The first Android-powered smartphone to carry the Nokia name from HMD Global has been announced. The Nokia 6 features 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of on-board storage alongside microSD support, a 16 megapixel main camera, and a 3,000 mAh battery.
The form factor may not push the limits of design – the handset is a monoblock form sculpted from a single piece of aluminium – but it represents the modern design ethics of a smartphone with a 1920×1080 HD screen measuring 5.5 inches on the diagonal.
As expected, the Nokia 6 will run 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 Nokia 6 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. It also keeps supply lines relatively short from the production facilities, and using a single retailer reduces the demand on logistics for HMD, which is still a company in start-up mode.
The Nokia 6 is clearly playing in the mid-range market. Shipping with a SnapDragon 430 system-on-chip is not going to set the world alight in terms of performance but the chipset should be able to hold its own against handsets at a similar price to the Nokia 6’s 1699 Yuan ($245). Leaning on the Nokia brand, pairing up with Dolby to use its Atmos sound processing, and promoting the use of an aluminium unibody all tie in with a mid-range handset that punches above its weight… all of which tie in with the values many expect from the Nokia brand name.
That said, what we’re looking at here is a handset that doesn’t really push any technological barriers. The market has a lot of Android-powered smartphones using the 400 series SnapDragon chips that come in at the $200-$300 price point. Design is enough to sell high-end handsets from the likes of Apple, is that enough for mid-range Nokia-branded handsets from HMD?
The handset will go on sale ‘early in 2017’ and will be available exclusively in China through a partnership with retailer JD.com. Although a date for public availability has not been announced, HMD’s CEO Arto Nummela has previously said that “it is good practice to go on sale very soon after a launch.”
With CES coming to a close HMD has made a late play to grab some headlines , even if it’s not on the Las Vegas floor. Next up in the smartphone calendar is Mobile World Congress, starting on 27th February. If I was a betting man I’d expect the Nokia 6 to not only be on show in Barcelona to the world’s press, but rolling out on sale in China at the same time.