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article imageNokia confirms it's building new smartphones, four devices coming

By James Walker     Aug 18, 2016 in Technology
Famed Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia has confirmed its name will return to handheld devices later this year with the launch of as many as four new Android phones. The company recently hired a new marketing officer to lead its mobile efforts.
Nokia has been building mobile phones for almost as long as they've existed. In recent years, it's been most associated with its ill-fated line of Lumia Windows Phone handsets, a sales nightmare that led to the company selling itself to Microsoft in 2014.
Microsoft placed restrictions on the remains of Nokia, preventing it from selling smartphones for a period of two years. That time is now up however, and the company is preparing to unveil its first devices since the Lumia range transitioned to Microsoft.
Nokia has been rumoured to be working on new phones for months. This week, Mike Wang, general manager at Nokia Siemens Networks in China, confirmed to Chinese news site The Paper that Nokia intends to return to building smartphones by the end of 2016. He suggested as many as four devices could be launched, contradicting rumours that two phones are in development.
A leak from earlier this year exposed two purported Nokia smartphones, one with a 5.2-inch display and another 5.5-inch model. Those handsets are said to have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and Android 7.0 Nougat, the latest version of Android set to launch this summer. Nokia's tradition of high-quality camera equipment will continue with the inclusion of a 22.6MP camera.
Purported images of the Nokia C1 Android smartphone  date 07/09/2015  via
Purported images of the Nokia C1 Android smartphone, date 07/09/2015, via
Despite wearing the Nokia name, these devices won't actually be built by the company. Nokia has licensed its brand to China's HMD Group. It will take responsibility for the development and marketing of the handsets, based on input provided by Nokia of Finland. It's a demanding task for the Chinese firm, particularly as Nokia is one of the most famous names in the mobile industry.
To help it ensure the launch goes smoothly, HMD hired Pekka Rantala, the former CEO of Angry Birds developer Rovio, as its new Chief Marketing Officer this week. Rantala previously worked for Nokia from 1994 to 2011. He will be well-positioned to lead the reformed company and bring the Nokia name back to smartphone consumers.
According to Wang, HMD Group is working to get phones into the hands of customers this year. However, the launch may be postponed if development and testing takes longer than anticipated, potentially pushing it back into early 2017. When the devices are unveiled, they'll be accompanied by a sizeable marketing push. HMD will need to at once advertise the return of the Nokia name while separating the brand from its Windows Phone history.
Since acquiring Nokia's devices business, Microsoft has done very little with the company. It has shelved numerous projects that Nokia was building before the acquisition completed, launching only a few handsets that were already heading to production.
The most notable aspects of Nokia's Lumia technology, such as its well-reviewed PureView camera systems, have been integrated into Microsoft's own devices business, built from the remnants of Nokia. Having taken all it wanted, Microsoft has effectively abandoned Nokia, cutting thousands of jobs in the unsuccessful business.
The Nokia name combined with the Android operating system could prove to be more attractive to consumers than Windows Phone has ever been. Nokia did launch a handful of Android devices alongside its Lumia range but they used a heavily skinned version of the OS and failed to become popular.
The new devices will be viewed as the first true Android phones from the company, using an interface that's closer to the stock Google experience. Whether the reborn Nokia will be more successful than its last incarnation remains to be seen. HMD Group seems to be taking the task of reintroducing the brand to the world seriously however, committing to spending $500 million over the next three years in promoting the new handsets.
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