The first Nokia-branded handsets running Android are due to arrive early next year. After announcing its plans to return to tablets and phones back in May, Nokia is providing more details today as it formalizes a licensing agreement with HMD Global (HMD). Also based in Finland, HMD global is the new home of Nokia phones under a brand licensing deal that will last for at least 10 years.
Nokia is launching a new phones section on its site today, marking the return of Nokia-branded smartphones and tablets after Microsoft acquired its phone business and killed off the Nokia brand in favor of Lumia for smartphones. The first Nokia-branded smartphones powered by Android will be available in the first half of 2017, alongside Nokia-branded feature phones.
Nokia already experimented with Android just ahead of Microsoft’s acquisition, and the company’s first device after that deal was an iPad mini clone running Android. A Nokia return to phones — even in brand, only — is an odd twist in the Nokia and Microsoft story of struggling to adapt to smartphones and Apple’s iPhone. We’ll be left waiting until early next year to see if the dream of an Android-powered Nokia phone is truly able to compete with Apple, Google, Samsung, and the many other Android phones on the market.
Update, 7:10AM ET: Article update to clarify Nokia’s branding efforts with HMD Global.