Today was already going to be pretty exciting thanks to the keynote kicking off Google’s biggest event of the year, Google I/O, but an unlikely contender for biggest news just popped up out of nowhere. Nokia. The company which sold its devices and services division to Microsoft back in 2013 tried to play off its return to the smartphone industry back in 2015, but apparently all those wishes from Nokia fans out there in the wild actually paid off.
Nokia’s coming back, and it has plans to run Android on its smartphones and tablets.
To do this, Nokia has acquired the assistance of a brand new, Finnish-based company called HMD, which Nokia says is populated with a bunch of great people fluent in the mobile industry. HMD will be the global licensee of Nokia smartphones and tablets, and plans on spending more than $500 million in marketing over the next three years to promote Nokia’s brand across the world.
As it does that, HMD will also be releasing Nokia-branded smartphones and tablets, which, one can hope, means we’ll finally, finally, see the arrival of a truly flagship Nokia smartphone running Google’s mobile operating system, Android. We’ve seen what Nokia is forced to build thanks to its partnership with Microsoft in the Nokia X, but that didn’t last long, and it was a cheap option with barely any semblance of Android software.
Back when I was trying to make myself use Windows Phone, insofar that I had to accept I wasn’t going to be able to use any of the apps I regularly used on Android or iOS, Nokia phones were the only ones I really liked. The Lumia lineup was a truly standout series of devices, even if you just wanted to give the company a round of applause for having colorful devices. But the features, and the cameras, and the build quality, were all top-notch. For all intents and purposes, as other manufacturers dropped like flies away from Windows Phone, Nokia was the company making devices worth buying.
And here we are again, several years later, and Nokia is on the brink of making a big return to the smartphone (and tablet) market. It’s big news! And I’m sure I’m not the only one that wished this announcement, ahead of the Google I/O keynote, meant that we’d see some hardware announcements today, but that’s not likely.
We’re stuck in the waiting game all over again, but at least we know, officially, that there’s something to look forward to. Something new and exciting. This is going to be a truly brand new phone, if we just look at the Android lineup, because Nokia is a fresh company to the playing field. Nokia isn’t just a soldier in the Android army, but an already-appointed general, and if Nokia’s first unveiling is a truly flagship handset, well, that’ll certainly make waves.
There are questions to be asked, though. Will HMD and Nokia go back to something similar to the Lumia design? If not, what does a new Nokia-branded flagship device look like? We’ve been seeing Lumia devices for so long now that imaging something else, and, frighteningly enough, maybe something not as colorful is almost frustrating.
And what about a proprietary skin? I don’t think we’re going to see something like the Nokia X, where Android was basically just a marketing scheme and a bullet point on the features list, completely hidden by customized software. No, I think we’re going to see something much different from that, but I can’t help but think Nokia could aim to try and differentiate its devices like Samsung and HTC and many other companies do with a customized user interface.
If that is the case, I hope they don’t go crazy with it. I don’t even know if I want a stock experience per se, considering I don’t think proprietary user interfaces are inherently evil, but I think I still prefer that scenario over customized software. Less of a possibility for things to go wrong, potentially.
Still, no matter what, this is exciting news. But what do you think? Are you hoping to see something fantastic from Nokia? What would you like a flagship Nokia Android handset to look like and feature, based on what we’ve seen from past Nokia-branded flagships? Let me know!