It may not be long before Nokia, the mobile phone titan of yesteryear, makes a triumphant return. Reports have been gathering that we’ll see up to four new phones with the company’s name on the body in the coming year. While they won’t be made by Nokia, they will be designed and branded by the firm, and are likely to be a mixture of basic and more complex devices.
All we have to go on is rumor at the moment, so here’s what we think we know about the new Nokia phones.
It’s highly unlikely the Pixel name will be used on any version actually put on sale, but an unreleased Nokia phone used in a benchmark test has that name attached. Sadly, it’s not the most exciting phone we’ve seen, and definitely occupies the lower-end of the smartphone scale.
The Nokia Pixel, as it’s known here, has a basic dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor inside with 1GB of RAM, resulting in a very ordinary performance test on the Geekbench website. The good news is it has the latest version of Google’s operating system, Android 7.0.1, installed. No other specification details are revealed in the test, so the screen size and resolution are a mystery, but don’t expect it to challenge the Galaxy S7 on either.
Earlier leaks have detailed more technically impressive phones, indicating Nokia will launch a complete range of smartphones, with models suited to all wallets, and for all markets around the world.
Flagship Nokia phones
According to a report in Nokia Power User, there are two Nokia-branded Android handsets bound for an unveiling in late 2016 or early 2017, and alleged images have leaked of both.
“Trusted sources” told the publication that the two handsets, one smaller (5.2 inches) and one larger (5.5 inches), have “sturdy” metal bodies characteristic of Nokia’s historical designs. And one of their rumored features has the potential to break new smartphone ground. The phones’ cameras are being described as the “most sensitive ever” to come to market, and are reportedly the product of a years-long, $1.35 billion graphene development effort. Another reported innovation is a “touch & hover” interaction that might, much like Microsoft’s scrapped McLaren project, use a combination of sensors to respond to finger gestures.
Other highlights include water and dust resistance up to IP68, fingerprint sensors, and OLED displays with QHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) resolutions. In terms of software, the handsets will reportedly sport an improved version of Nokia’s predictive Z-Launcher — a newer version than the beta available in the Google Play app store, apparently — atop the very latest version of Android, Android Nougat.
Under the hood, both Nokia Android N powered phones will pack the Snapdragon 820 processor. We don’t know details regarding RAM, storage and camera at this point of time, but the leak suggests that sensors on the two phones will be the most sensitive ever and will be based upon Nokia’s extensive research on wonder material “Graphene.”
MWC 2017 launch?
When will these Nokia phones arrive? Both Nokia and HMD Global have a large presence at Mobile World Congress in 2017, and it’s possible some of the new phones will launch at the show, held in Barcelona at the end of February. Leaks have shown the new Nokia brand will launch in 2017, suggesting we won’t see any new devices this year.
Built by HMD Global, designed by Nokia
Assuming the report is accurate, it won’t be Nokia at the helm of the forthcoming devices’ development, technically speaking. HMD Global, a Finnish company co-founded by former Nokia executives Arto Nummela and Florian Seiche, acquired the rights to the company’s mobile brand from Microsoft in May. HDM has a contract with FIH, a subsidiary of iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, and under a strict licensing partnership, follows Nokia’s design and hardware guidelines in exchange for access to the company’s extensive patent library.
News of new handsets is consistent with HMD Global’s stated intentions. In May, the company promised a range of devices, including feature phones, smartphones, and tablets, in late 2016.
In recent years, Nokia has struggled to gain a foothold in the high-end mobile market. Following the company’s adoption of Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system in 2011 and its acquisition by Microsoft in 2014, sales of its handset suffered — shipments in 2013 alone were down 22 percent year on year, according to Strategy Analytics.
Following Nokia’s divestiture from its parent company earlier this year, things haven’t looked much better. In April, thanks in part to lower-than-expected smartphone shipments, it announced 900 million euros in downsizing measures — a plan which in part involved the layoffs of 1,400 staff members in Germany, 1,300 in Finland, and 400 in France.
Despite the Finnish company’s woes, though, it’s setting its eyes on the future. It has teamed up independently with Foxconn to produce the N1, an Android-based tablet. It has dipped its toes in virtual reality with the Ozo, a $60,000 professional-grade 360-degree camera. And it’s getting into fitness, too: it acquired French fitness device company Withings this year.
“We have been reinventing ourselves for 150 years using this amazing brand,” Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia’s consumer Nokia Technologies division, told Digital Trends in June. “We’re starting to focus on people’s happiness and health in a way that wasn’t possible before because the technology wasn’t possible before. You can expect some really surprising products in the next year or two directly from this company as we turn a new chapter.”
Article originally published in July. Updated on 11-07-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added leaked images.