The Nokia brand has a special place in my heart. It’s one of the brands I started covering professionally when I started in the business more than a decade ago in 2005. I was there when the company was at the height of its glory, and I was there when the company crashed and burned. The news of the brand’s revival at the tail end of 2016 had me excited for the stuff that was to come, but 6 years on, it doesn’t seem like HMD Global has managed to recapture the magic that the OG Nokia had. Looking at Nokia’s current crop of Android phones announced during this year’s CES made me go back to a question I’ve been asking myself each time the brand releases a new batch of phones: maybe we should let Nokia die off?
I’d like to preface this article with a disclaimer: I have nothing against the people behind Nokia and HMD Global – this isn’t me writing a hit piece because of a particular person in their organization. It is an article written to point out something painfully obvious – aside from banking on nostalgia and the old glory days of a company that once used to rule mobile phones, the brand really hasn’t brought anything new to the table.
If you take a look at the brand’s past and current lineup, you’d be hard-pressed to like any of them. The current crop of phones look incredibly dated VS other devices in the same lineup, and the C100 especially looks like it came out 2 years ago. The price of the phones aren’t amazing either – the G400 is easily beaten by offerings of Xiaomi that look like it actually was released in 2021.
This isn’t the Nokia I remember. Nokia was the biggest brand during the 2000s because they came out with phones that had great, innovative features. While they weren’t the first company to release a camera in a phone, they were the first to have a successful camera phone in the form of the Nokia N90 and had an immensely popular cameraphone in the Nokia N95.
While some of the OG Nokia’s phones weren’t as good (the NGAGE was a commercial flop and the Nokia 808 didn’t sell as well as the company would have hoped) they were still phones that tried to push what the technology available at the time had to offer. While Nokia did die because of its inability to see future trends and integrate good software and hardware into its products, at least it made interesting, cutting-edge stuff for us to enjoy.
This brings us to the Nokia of today. Aside from the 5-camera Nokia 9 PureView, the revived brand hasn’t really shown us anything to be excited about. Instead of pushing boundaries, the new Nokia has pushed nostalgic-featurephone cash-grabs and generic bargain-bin smartphones.
And despite that strategy, Nokia phones aren’t getting snapped up, and are getting out-competed by relatively newer companies like Infinix and Tecno Mobile in the market. Nokia hasn’t even broken into IDC’s top 5 vendors in 2021, which pretty much tells you how popular the brand is currently.
I asked myself the question if Nokia still had a place in the fast-paced world of Android smartphones when they made their comeback, and six years on, I’d have to say the answer is no. At the way things are going, I don’t have a lot of faith in Nokia as a brand. Unless they really come up with something new and unique in the next few months, I feel that history’s going to repeat itself, and if Nokia does die again, maybe we should let the name rest this time around.