Brief history: From Nokia, to Microsoft, to Foxconn and HMD
After its original Symbian platform was overshadowed by competitors, Nokia entered into a pact with Microsoft in 2011 to exclusively use the Windows Phone platform on all of its future smartphone devices.
In September 2013, the two companies had already been collaborating quite closely but had their own resources, tools and confidential secrets, which eventually resulted in Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s mobile division (Devices and Services) was in a $7.17 billion sale that took place in April 2014. This included everything from supply chains, accessories, developer relations and manufacturing plants. But a series of layoffs over the last two years eventually triggered Redmond to end production of all current Lumia-branded smartphones, while retaining only a small number of former Nokia employees.
In July 2015 prior to Microsoft’s end of Lumia sales, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri stated that the telecom company planned to re-enter the mobile phone business following expiration of a non-compete clause with Microsoft. But the following spring in May 2016, Microsoft had sold its feature phone business to both Foxconn and HMD Global for $350 million as its smartphone experiment costs soared above $8 billion, including restructuring costs and severance payments to thousands of employees.
The agreement eventually saw Microsoft transfer all of its feature phone assets, including brands, software, services, customer contracts and supply agreements, to Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile and HMD. These two companies then entered into their own collaboration agreement in May 2016 to build and manufacture future products under the “Nokia” brand.
HMD Global is the new Helsinki-based operation run by former Nokia employees and led by former Nokia and Microsoft executive Arto Numella. The company is expected to relaunch the Nokia brand name on February 26th during an announcement at MWC.
MWC 2017: Nokia 6 (worldwide), Nokia 5 and Nokia 3
In December, we reported that HMD global would be releasing a range of Android smartphones in the first half of 2017. On Monday, VentureBeat clarified that HMD will be releasing as many as four Nokia devices to Mobile World Congress later this month – they include the Nokia 6, the Nokia 5, the Nokia 3, and at least one non-Android device for the feature phone entry level market.
The Nokia 6 has already launched in China as of last month and features a 5.5-inch IPS display with 1080p resolution, an octa-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430 processor with Adreno 505 graphics and 4GB of RAM. Other specs include a 16-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, an 8-megapixel front camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack with Dolby Atmos sound enhancement, a microUSB 2.0 port, and a 3,000mAh battery. While currently available for ¥1,700, the device will be making its rounds to the worldwide market and could end up becoming available for around €249 / $263, according to the latest reports.
HMD’s other two devices, the Nokia 5 and Nokia 3, are expected to follow closer in Microsoft’s footsteps by announcing low-end specifications to push the entry-level market forward, at least initially. The Nokia 5 is rumored to include a 5.2-inch IPS display with 720p resolution, an eight-core 1.3GHz Snapdragon 430 processor with Adreno 505 graphics, 2GB of RAM and a 12-megapixel rear facing camera. This device is expected to sell for around €199 / $210. The Nokia 3 is rumored to include more “entry-level Android specs,” likely with a Snapdragon processor, and is expected to sell for around €149 / $158.
As for the company’s fourth device, not much has been revealed yet other than the suggestion that it could be a non-Android feature phone sporting long battery life and sturdy construction. It is estimated to cost just €59 / $62.
According to the collaboration agreement between Foxconn’s FIH Mobile and HMD, at least one of the four Nokia-branded devices for the worldwide market is expected to be launched on March 31st.