Nokia-branded handsets are returning to the market with the first announced device being a $26 dumb phone complete with the classic “Snake” mobile game.
Earlier this year, a company called HMD Global, which is formed of ex-Nokia executives, acquired the rights and intellectual property licenses from the Finnish firm. This gives HMD exclusive global brand licensing rights for the next 10 years.
Under the agreement, Nokia will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of every Nokia branded mobile phone or tablet.
The first result of this deal is the Nokia 150 and Nokia 150 Dual SIM – two feature phones announced by HMD on Tuesday which will cost $26. They are so-called “dumb phones” – without internet connectivity.
HMD Global’s Nokia-branded device is expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2017.
Here are some of the features of the devices: FM radio and MP3 player; 2.4 inch screen; Physical keypad; Battery life – 22 hours of talk time and 31 days on standby
In a nod back to the classic durability of Nokia phones, HMD said the devices are “built to last”. The company has also pre-loaded “Snake Xenzia” onto the phones, which should excite Nokia fans.
Both handsets will come in black or white, cost $26, and will be rolling out in Asia-Pacific, India, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe in the first quarter of 2017.
As expected, the phone will run on Android, and HMD has confirmed that it will ship with Nougat, the seventh major version of Google’s operating system. Unlike the Nokia Lumia range of Windows Phone-powered handsets, using Android should allow the brand to tap into the wide range of third-party Android applications available on the market.
Launching in China opens up a number of interesting dynamics. Unlike the markets in Europe and North America, the Chinese market is one that is still going through its growth phase. Re-establishing ‘brand Nokia’ is going to be easier here than it would be in the saturated citadels where Nokia once ruled.
There are still many emerging markets where the Nokia 150 might find appeal, helped by the $26 price tag as well as the strong Nokia brand.
Nokia exited the phone business when it completed the sale of the division to Microsoft in 2014. The U.S. technology giant failed to make the acquisition work and has since wrote off its entire purchase of Nokia and announced 7,800 layoffs, mostly in the phone division.
Since that sale, Nokia has been focusing on its crucial Networks division and new areas of technology such as 5G Internet, virtual reality and health care. For Nokia, this will help them earn revenue without having to manufacture phones.