By Prabhu Ram
Nokia aims to challenge OnePlus 5T with its Nokia 7 Plus, and Google Pixel with its Nokia 8 Sirocco.
It is that time of the year again when some of the world’s leading and biggest smartphone manufacturers and other ecosystem players converge at Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018.
While Samsung cast a long shadow on the MWC2018 with its new flagship updates: Samsung S9 and S9+, HMD Global came to the party, upping its ante from last year’s MWC Show with five new offerings: four smartphones and one feature phone.
As per the CMR India Mobile Handset Review for 2017, Nokia shipped an estimated 5.2M feature phone units and 785K smartphone units in India. While Nokia aimed to win big on smartphones, it was the feature phone that powered its growth. Last year’s successful show-stopper at the MWC, the Nokia 3310 saw shipments of 515K units in India.
As such, Nokia had its task cut out for 2018. At the MWC2018, of the five new offerings, three were Android One devices, one was the Android Oreo Go edition, and another was a reloaded 4G version of its iconic 8810 feature phone.
Among the Android One devices are two new mid-range devices, the new Nokia 6 and Nokia 7 Plus that are made out of a single block of Aluminium. While the 6 features a rear Zeiss camera and supports fast charging, the 7 Plus has dual rear Zeiss cameras and a a 3800 mAh battery that Nokia claims will offer two-day battery life on a single charge. For HMD, the Nokia 7 Plus is critical, and aimed at the mid-tier price band in India market, which would pose competition to OnePlus 5T.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco is carved out of a single block of 2.5mm steel. The Nokia 8 Sirocco comes with a 5.5-inch curved 2K OLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, Android 8.0 Oreo, 128GB inbuilt storage and 6GB of RAM. The Sirocco comes with dual rear cameras and features wireless charging.
The premium Nokia 8 Sirocco would attract those undecided customers who are fatigued of Samsung and Apple flagships. The Sirocco rivals the Samsung S9. For Google Pixel, this would mean that the Sirocco would pose a serious threat to its growth in India.
The Nokia 1 is among the first set of smartphones to be part of Google’s Android Oreo (Go edition) program, aimed at the entry level.
The new smartphone launches from Nokia also underline once again the big challenge that handset manufacturers are facing: Smartphone innovation has hit a plateau. It is no wonder then that the new Nokia 8810 stands out in the crowd.
The reloaded Nokia 8810 4G is a “smart” feature phone that is powered by a Qualcomm 205 SoC. The 8110 is preloaded with Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Search. It also comes with Facebook, Twitter and more apps which can be downloaded from its app store, which is powered by KaiOS. KaiOS has grown in India on the back of the popular Jiophone.
In conclusion, Nokia has something for everyone this year. With the right marketing push, it stands a chance to revive its smartphone story and push hard against the market leaders in the mid and premium segments. How successful they would be remains to be seen.
(The author is Head – Industry Intelligence Group at CMR)