HMD Global, the maker of Nokia phones, celebrates its 5th anniversary

Five years ago, a Finnish startup started bringing the Nokia brand back to the mobile phone market. HMD Global, the holder of the Nokia brand for phones and tablets, officially began operations on December 1, 2016.

The Finns started selling already available Nokia cell phones, as the cell phone business was taken over from Microsoft. A month later, the first new Nokia smartphone on Android was announced – the Nokia 6.

HMD was initially very well received by the market with the most notable achievement being the 3rd place in the UK smartphone market in Q4 2017. With solid build quality and a Pure Android approach, the first generation of phones Nokia created a buzz in the first year. of HMD’s business, with the reborn Nokia 3310 playing a big role in promoting the business. The positive atmosphere continued into the first half of 2018, when Nokia 7 plus was released. The 7 plus quickly captured the hearts of many fans – with the new Snapdragon 660 SoC and great design, the phone was considered one of the best midrangers around. After the 7 plus, in my opinion things started to slow down and maybe even fall apart for the Finns.

For some reason, HMD bought every Snapdragon 660 SoC Qualcomm owned and continued to release phones using the then obsolete SoC. Not to mention jumping on the bandwagon of market trends like glass backing, notch, etc., it didn’t help the company stand out. Soft play didn’t help either, as Android One started to lag behind with features compared to other UIs. I mean, it’s really subjective and for some Android One is great others don’t like it, but in general – in a market where hardware becomes more and more similar, software becomes an area where companies are trying to differentiate themselves.

At MWC 2019, Nokia Mobile announced its latest flagship, the Nokia 9 PureView. The 9 PureView is the first (and the last device at the time of writing) to use a penta-camera setup with Light’s technology that used all five cameras together to take images. The device hit the market prematurely with a broken fingerprint sensor and buggy camera app, which was mostly patched with software updates weeks or months later. An innovative device that had potential died quickly. Interestingly, the phone was originally advertised as a “limited edition,” but it was never really communicated what that meant. Years later, Light, the company that co-developed the camera setup with HMD, no longer does smartphone imaging. Yesterday, I was deeply disappointed to learn that HMD had abandoned its plan to update the PureView 9 to Android 11, breaking its promise of Android upgrades.

That brings us to 2020 and 2021. Years that are mostly known for the Covid pandemic, and where phones weren’t as important as health and living conditions. During the pandemic years, HMD focused more on accessories, especially headphones. The company also released the James Bond – Nokia 8.3 5G phone, and we also saw the Nokia T20 tablet and Nokia XR20, which are probably the most exciting (at least to me) things from HMD since Nokia 9 PureView.

In this brief overview of the last five years of the Nokia brand in the market, I haven’t mentioned a lot of devices and solid developments around the HMD as it would be more suitable for a book than an article. At the start of the trip, the company announced that it plans to be in the top 3 or top 5 phone makers in the world for the next 3-5 years. The license to use the Nokia brand is valid until 2026, so HMD is halfway through – until the license provided by Nokia expires or renews.

I still feel like more could have been done in those five years, and still naively hope we’ll see more of the brand-worthy devices they offer.

Happy birthday