With a New Smartphone, Nokia-Maker Takes on Apple and Samsung

  • Nokia 8 marks first move into higher end of market for HMD
  • Company rethinks the selfie with split-screen photo and video

Finnish company HMD Global Oy unveiled its latest Nokia-branded smartphone in a first bid to win over Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc. customers.

The Nokia 8 will be available in September and will retail for a global average price of 599 euros ($703), HMD said Wednesday.

The company, which started operating in 2016 with an exclusive license for Nokia-branded phones, has so far focused its efforts to revive the Nokia brand on cheaper smartphones and a redesign of the classic Nokia 3310, first sold in 2000. In February HMD unveiled the Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 smartphones, priced at 139 euros ($163) and 189 euros respectively.

The Nokia 8 smartphone “dual-sight” photo and video function

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Juho Sarvikas, HMD’s chief product officer, said now was “the perfect time” to introduce the model, which he describes as a flagship product. The phone will feature a “dual-sight” photo and video function, in which images from the front and rear cameras will be displayed simultaneously on a split screen. HMD describes the feature as “less Selfie, more Bothie”.

HMD had chosen to release cheaper models first because 50 percent of global demand was for phones costing between 100 euros and 250 euros, Sarvikas said in an interview. “We wanted to start there, where we know that we are highly relevant with our proposition. We’re very eager to enter the flagship segment as well.”

New Optics 

Zeiss cameras on the Nokia 8

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The new device has Zeiss cameras, after HMD said in July that it had signed a partnership with the group, part of the German optics company Carl Zeiss AG.

The launch comes as Apple prepares to launch a new iPhone and Samsung rolls out its new Galaxy Note 8. Sarvikas said by phone that HMD was “less concerned about competition; we’re here to design for the consumers.” 

Demand for the redesigned 3310 feature phone, unveiled in February, had been “very strong.” Sarvikas was unable to share detailed sales figures but said HMD had sold “millions” of smartphones and “tens of millions” of feature phones - of which the 3310 is just one model.

Nokia Oyj sold the handset business to Microsoft Corp. in 2014. In 2016 Microsoft sold it to HMD and FIH Mobile Ltd., a subsidiary of Chinese phone maker Foxconn Technology Group. HMD’s Chief Executive Officer Arto Nummela, a former Nokia executive, left the company last month.

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