MWC 2018: New Nokia Phones Build On Successful Relaunch


The Nokia brand, relaunched at MWC only a year ago, has already reached No. 11 in smartphone shipments worldwide – and No. 3 in the UK

HMD Global introduced a new range of Nokia phones on Sunday, including a relaunched version of one of Nokia’s most popular handsets of the 1990s and a high-end Android smartphone, as it looks to consolidate a relaunch that has seen it become No. 3 in the UK’s smartphone market after only a year in existence.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco is an updated version of the company’s flagship Nokia 8 and is priced at €749 (£658), while a 4G-capable version of the 1990s-era Nokia 8110 costs €79. The Nokia 8 Sirocco is set to become available in April, with the 8110 arriving in May.

On Sunday in Barcelona, ahead of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) expo, the company also introduced new versions of three of last year’s phones.

Last year HMD relaunched the Nokia brand with a new version of the 3310, originally sold in 2000. The newer version included the popular game Snake, but only ran on 2G networks.

Retro slider phone

This year’s 8110 is a slider phone whose earlier counterpart featured in the 1999 film The Matrix. The inclusion of 4G could help encourage network operators to adopt it, which could boost sales, analysts said.

It’s available in black or bright yellow. The latter colour is a nod to the original device’s nickname as a “banana phone” due to its curved shape.

Its Kai operating system runs a limited number of “smart” apps, including Google Assistant, Google Maps and Facebook.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco. Credit: Nokia

Flagship Nokia 8 Sirocco

For the Nokia 8 Sirocco, HMD opted for durability and sharp design, with a steel frame of the kind used in the iPhone X – but at a more modest price.

The lower price comes at a cost, however, with the Sirocco using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 rather than the top-of-the-range 845.

The phone features an all-screen design, with a display that curves around the device’s sides and small top and bottom bezels. It also brings back a manual-control photo mode called Pro Camera that Nokia previously offered on its high-end devices.

Like HMD’s other smartphones, the Sirocco runs Android One’s version of the Android operating system. Android One bills it as a “pure and simple” version Google’s software, without the sometimes clunky modifications introduced by other handset makers.

Nokia relaunch

Finnish start-up HMD was set up by ex-Nokia executives and launched at last year’s MWC.

It became the world’s top seller of low-cost feature phones and No. 11 worldwide in smartphones for 2017, according to Counterpoint Research, which estimates it has a combined ranking of No. 6 across both categories.

In the UK, Counterpoint said HMD was No. 3 for smartphones in the fourth quarter of last year, behind only Apple and Samsung, in part due to strong sales of low-cost models such as the Nokia 3 and the Nokia 6.

At MWC, HMD chief executive Florian Seiche said the company has sold around 70 million of the 11 models it has introduced over the past year.

To quickly grow its sales, HMD has used a network of about 600 leading mobile and retail distributors worldwide and tried to build a reputation for reliable, affordable devices with cutting-edge features.

On the software side, the company offers monthly Google security updates, something more difficult to come by on other Android phones.

The strategy has seen it surpass the likes of better established rivals including HTC, Sony and Lenovo.

Credit: Nokia

Rise and fall

Finland’s Nokia once dominated the mobile phone market, but quickly lost ground when Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android arrived on the scene.

It sold its handset business to Microsoft in 2014 and now concentrates on making equipment for telecommunications companies.

HMD took over Nokia’s feature phone business from Microsoft in 2016 and reached a licensing deal with Nokia Oyj to produce smartphones under the Nokia brand.

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