As someone who spends a lot of time with smartphones, we mostly get asked, “Hey Ron, what Android phone should we buy?” The high-end answer is customarily easy: buy a Pixel phone. But not everybody is peaceful to bombard out $650+ for a smartphone, generally a forms of infrequent users that ask for advice. Beyond a flagship smartphones, things get some-more formidable within a Android ecosystem. Motorola underneath Google used to be good during building a non-flagship phone, yet given a association was sole to Lenovo (which gutted a refurbish program), it has been tough to find a decent phone that isn’t super expensive.
Enter HMD’s Nokia phones, an whole lineup of inexpensive smartphones trimming from $100 to $400. HMD recently launched a second era of a lineup, with phones like a Nokia 2.1, 3.1, and 5.1. We recently spent time with a top finish phone in this array that happens to be one of a few HMD inclination for sale in a US: a Nokia 6.1. And for $269, we get a flattering spectacular-sounding package of a Snapdragon 630, a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, batch Android 8.1, quick updates, and a steel body.
The tumble of Nokia and a arise of HMD
Since this is a initial HMD-made Nokia phone we’ve reviewed, it’s substantially good to dive into a story of HMD first. Believe it or not, this association was specifically created to be “The home of Nokia phones.”
Once on a time in a post-iPhone world, Nokia hired a Microsoft executive to be a new CEO of a company. Nokia became an disdainful Windows Phone manufacturer. Many bad Microsoft-centric business decisions were done by Nokia’s Microsoft executive. Eventually Nokia’s value fell low adequate that Microsoft finished adult shopping Nokia’s phone division.
Thus, Nokia became a telecommunications association that didn’t make telephones, Microsoft got a phone manufacturer and a 10-year permit to use a Nokia brand, and a Microsoft executive got to go behind home to Microsoft.
In-house Microsoft phones weren’t eventually adequate to save Windows Phone, and when a height died, a finish of Nokia phones seemed imminent. With Nokia phones in trouble, a puzzling association called “HMD Global” appeared. Along with Foxconn auxiliary FIH Mobile, HMD shortly started shopping adult what was left of a aged Nokia assets. Eventually, branding, software, patents, licenses, and 4,500 employees were divvied adult between a dual companies. HMD became a tellurian licensee of a Nokia code for phones, and it had an agreement to do production during FIH Mobile’s newly fortified facilities.
But where did this puzzling “HMD” association come from? If you’re like me (and you’ve followed this kind of insider attention news for awhile), any time an aged code gets snatched adult by another company, we assume it’s some Chinese organisation looking to mangle into wider markets. Motorola, Blackberry, and Palm all roughly fit into this narrative. But evidently this predestine hasn’t befallen Nokia—HMD isn’t looking to wear a Nokia code like a droughty husk. HMD is different.
The similarities between HMD and Nokia are so numerous, it is roughly suspicious. HMD, like Nokia, is a Finnish company. Nearly all of HMD’s executives are former Nokia employees. HMD’s domicile is actually across a street from Nokia HQ. HMD is not Nokia, and Nokia doesn’t reason any investment in HMD, yet it seems doubtful that dual companies could be any closer while still being legally and financially distinct.
So far, HMD has stood out as a smartphone association by observant all a right things when it comes to a software. Most OEMs try to rebrand Android with a complicated skin that provides small value to consumers, yet HMD has been pulling a “Pure Android” angle for a software. It’s also putting an importance on quick updates, earnest inclination that are “pure, secure, and adult to date.” Today, HMD is also one of a singular companies that is putting bid into low- and mid-range smartphones.
HMD sells underline phones, too, an beginning that still moves poignant units in a building world. With a engorgement of Nokia DNA, HMD has even managed to make underline phones engaging by resurrecting mythological Nokia phones of a past. So distant we’ve seen remakes of a Nokia 3310 “brick” phone and a “banana phone,” a Nokia 8110.
In a latest turn of funding, HMD was valued during some-more than a billion dollars. In 2017—HMD’s initial year of operation—the association shipped 70 million Nokia-branded phones (that’s smartphones and underline phones) with sales operations in some-more than 80 countries. Between smartphones, underline phones, and a turn of second-generation devices, there are already about 20 HMD-made Nokia phones. It’s not purposeless indication spam either; Nokia’s 7 stream smartphones any occupy a singular cost point, trimming from about $100 to $700. This is an positively vast volume of swell for a association that is usually a year-and-a-half old—again, it’s all kind of curious. This doesn’t seem like a startup association during all. It feels some-more like someone walked into a dry aged Nokia factory, switched on a lights, and started churning out phones again.
Despite all a progress, HMD’s considerable scale hasn’t nonetheless translated to profitability: a association posted a $77 million detriment in 2017. It has usually been a year, though, and it positively seems like HMD’s off a good start. The association positively appears a lot some-more fast than a final billion-dollar smartphone startup, Andy Rubin’s Essential. Compare a initial year for each: HMD diversified and launched, like, 12 phone models during a operation of cost points. Essential gamble a plantation on a singular high-end smartphone, it didn’t sell well, and now a association seems to be encircling a drain.
For now, a usually bad thing we can contend about HMD is that it has been tough to get these Finnish phones in a United States. The Nokia 6.1 is one of a few HMD phones that has done a burst to America so far, yet there’s good news on that front. We’re scheduled to get some-more HMD inclination in a US this year than we did final year.