Recently, it was with great sadness and regret that my 82-year old grandfather relinquished his Nokia 3330 and purchased an iPhone 7. His devotion to his Nokia handset was proven not only by its longevity (exceeding a decade), but by his decision to hang it proudly around his neck on a measure of thread.
As it turns out, it looks like he could have kept things in the family, so to speak. Ten days into 2017, Nokia has unveiled a new budget smartphone dubbed the Nokia 6. The Android handset is only available in China, but Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of Finnish company HMD Global (the firm under which future handsets will be created) has hinted at a potential upcoming flurry of new products: “We have set ourselves a mission to deliver the best possible smartphone experience [...] The Nokia 6 marks the first step on our journey, with more to come in 2017.”
Before heralding the triumphant return of the old-school titan of mobile devices, it's important to note that these aren't strictly Nokia phones. When Nokia was bought by Microsoft in 2014, Lumia was maintained by Microsoft Mobile, albeit not to massive commercial success. Enter HMD, who licensed the rights to the Nokia name in a ten-year deal.
And whilst it might trigger cascades of fond nostalgia, HMD's Nokia 6 is not really a feat of dazzling innovation. It is aimed at the budget market, sporting a 5.5in LCD screen, 64G of storage, 4GB of RAM, a 3,000 mAh battery, a 16MP camera while running Android Nougat. It features a Snapdragon 430 processor, which we last saw in the Wileyfox Swift 2. It doesn't exactly set the world alight .
The phone will retail for around $US250 in an exclusive deal with China's Jingdong Mall online shop. And whilst the return of the much-loved brand is drumming up plenty of online interest (Nokia's cult following is heralding the return of 'The King'), future Nokia Android releases are likely to remain in the mid/low end of the market. So even if a model does launch in the U.S., it's unlikely that Samsung or Google will be quaking in their boots.
Still, the return of Nokia is still an exciting development. And not just to people who hark for the days of tapping “7” four times to get an S in their text messages.