From Nostalgia To Next-Gen: Nokia Returns To Oz

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HMD Global has announced it’ll be bringing the Nokia brand back to Australia, with a trio of new smartphones due out in late July.

HMD Global CEO Arto Nummela, himself a former Nokia veteran since the 90s, was on hand to ring in the occasion.

During his presentation, Nummela discussed up the cumulative forces that helped the Finnish company bring the once-iconic brand back to the market.

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He described the launch of these devices as the start of the next great chapter for the Nokia brand and HMD as the right company to mount the comeback.

“We took back the business from Microsoft and have the trust of Nokia,” he said.

Importantly, Nummela argued that for the brand’s comeback to succeed, they need to put their best foot forward.

“In order to that, you have to partner with the best of the best,” he said.

Specifically, he says HMD will be working with Qualcomm, Google and Foxconn to bring together the best in brand, design, software and hardware.

The new range of Nokia devices – the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 – start life in Scandinavia as product designs before prototype units are carved out of solid aluminum bricks.

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Nummela talked up this unique build-quality as key in achieving the relentless reliability that the brand is known for. He says the phones are subjected to countless tests during this phase of production.

He went on to emphasize the ease of use and “human touch” as equally important elements of the brand’s past and argues that focusing on achieving those qualities is key to not only recapturing the wide audience of Nokia’s hey-day but also tapping into the millennials of today.

In pursuit of this goal, Nummela highlighted the company’s on-going efforts to provide a “purer” Android experience, working directly with Google as a Tier 1 partner.

According to him, this strategy will yield more than just promotional results. They say they’re committed to providing two years of post-launch support for their new handsets, delivering both monthly security updates and fast-tracked major feature updates like the upcoming Android O.

The Nokia 3, the entry-level device, features a MediaTeK 6737 quad-core CPU and 2GBs of RAM. With a 5-inch IPS LCD display and pair of 8-megapixel cameras, it’s far from the best product on the company’s slate but a considerable offering nonetheless.

Then, the Nokia 5 sweetens the deal with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 and bumps the screen size up to 5.2-inches and the front-facing camera up to 13-megapixels.

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Lastly, the Nokia 6 weighs in with a 5.5-inch display, 3GBs of RAM and a 16-megapixel shooter. It also expands the 16GB internal storage found in the rest of the range to 32GB.

During our hands-on time with all three devices, we came away impressed with the weighty build quality and smooth ergonomics present. There’s a compelling balance to the devices that allows them to feel both sturdy and expensive.

Nummela claims the company’s tiered approach has had “very good results” in China, where the devices launched earlier in the year.

When asked by journalists whether or not larger offerings like phablets and tablets would be on the cards, Nummela insisted that “I don’t want to reveal our future plans” but said that “The Nokia brand allows us to do pretty much anything in the portfolio.”

“People are expecting that from Nokia and we will expand these things,” he said.

The final puzzle piece for the new handsets is the cost. At $249, $329, $399, the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 come in at a price-point that seems destined to tempt consumers back to the brand.

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Even if the new devices can’t compete with the Samsung Galaxy S8 or HTC U11 on specs, the significantly lower-price point is almost impossible to discount. The combination of respectable specs and elegant design on display make you want to ask what the catch is.

For that reason, it seems likely that a successful launch for HMD will put more pressure on mid or budget players like Alcatel and Motorola than it will Samsung and Apple.

HMD says that the handsets will be launching through retail first, via JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman.

During the presentation, they also indicated that discussions to secure availability through local carriers are on-going – with further announcements due at a later date.

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