Nokia is back, baby!

Nearly two years after Microsoft wrote off $7.6 billion against its Nokia business and fired 7,800 staff, Nokia is back in the smartphone game.

HMD Global, which acquired the rights to Nokia’s brand in 2016, has launched the Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6 smartphones in South Africa.

The Nokia 3 launched on 7 June. The Nokia 5 will launch in early July, while the Nokia 6 will launch two weeks later.

Nokia’s new smartphones have ditched Windows Phone in favour of Android, and HMD Global said it has a deal to run a version of the OS on its devices that is as close to Google’s as possible.

The devices will feature the Google Assistant and benefit from regular security updates.

Android security updates in SA

Many Android manufacturers in South Africa have promised regular updates and feature upgrades, but none have truly delivered.

This is because of the way mobile network operators around the world handle new software for devices. For every update you need to do, you must have the new software tested on your device – usually at a cost.

Since many network operators want the software on the phones on their network to be customised, each device has hundreds of different versions of its software.

Rolling out a significant change, like upgrading from Android 6.0 to 7.0, therefore becomes a massive undertaking.

Overcoming this hurdle requires “clean Android”, HMD Global president Florian Seiche told MyBroadband.

This allows Nokia to quickly deploy updates without needing to adapt and test that they work with device-specific customisations.

Nokia was also able to convince operators it would use one firmware for the whole world, with operator-specific features delivered over-the-air.

“When we started, we discussed security with operators and they loved that we’re going to do security updates,” said Seiche.

Updates would not impact on network and phone functionality, and operators were getting so many calls about malware-related issues that they welcomed the idea, he said.

“We benefited from the fact that we started fresh with this set of devices.”

Guaranteed updates

Nokia devices will receive two types of updates: monthly security updates, and less-frequent feature releases and operating system upgrades.

HMD Global CEO Arto Nummela said that for the duration of a two-year contract, South Africans can expect to receive new operating system and feature releases from Google.

“We chose chipsets so that they are compatible with future releases,” said Nummela.

He said the MTK chip in the Nokia 3 currently only supports Android 7.0, but they made a deal with MediaTek to supply the chip under the condition it would ensure future support for Android 7.1.1 and beyond.

“We told them they would not be the chipset provider if they do not support the latest software.”

He said they have already seen promising progress on the MTK 6737 chip the Nokia 3 uses.

Nokia 6

Nokia 5

Nokia 3

Now read: Nokia 5 and 6 officially launched in South Africa – Dates and prices

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Nokia is back, baby!