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HMD, can you restore Nokia to its former grace and glory?

HMD has decided to return Nokia to its former glory of yesteryear. Several smartphones under the Nokia brand have been presented in recent times but things are about to seriously kick off next month with the launch of the Nokia 8, a high-end smartphone. Nokia is going to have to go big on this one to win us over because as things stand, we're a little underwhelmed with Nokia.

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A disappointing return

We anticipated so eagerly and waited so long for Nokia's triumphant return. Of course, it was never going to be the Nokia we knew from before, it's HMD that's pulling the strings now. Luckily for us, we've had the opportunity to test three of its latest devices: the Nokia 3, the Nokia 5 and the Nokia 6. While some of those reviews are still waiting to be published, our overall impression of the three devices was similar: the potential is there but we're a bit disappointed overall.

Granted, it was not through these phones that HMD intended to showcase the full extent of its potential. Perhaps it was due to nostalgia, or maybe just naivety that we had (overly) big expectations and it would seem that for the time being, HMD is playing the nostalgia card to the old Nokia rather than offer something that is really innovative and stands out against its competition. Yes, the devices have some advantages for their price range, but overall it's disappointing.

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These Nokia phones have potential but it's not well exploited. © AndroidPIT

User experience has to be the best

HMD proposes a size argument: an up-to-date system. The Nokia 3 will quickly shift to Android 7.1.1 while the other two devices already have it, which is no mean feat for devices in this range, knowing that even the top competitors aren't all at this level yet. It's sad to have to marvel at having a new smartphone that's up to date, but that's the reality of the current situation at Android. In this respect, HMD is doing a fantastic job. On other points though, it leaves much to be desired.

If one does not necessarily expect maximum reactivity from an entry level or mid-range smartphone, the minimum requirement for that phone is that it must be pleasant to use. The three Nokia phones offer a rather average user experience, even taking their price into account. It doesn't make much sense to have such a successful design if it will be slow or if the battery doesn't even last the day. On this point, the competition really does offer much better. 

Opinion by Benoit Pepicq
A nice design doesn't excuse poor user experience
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There is no doubt that HMD will make the user experience on the Nokia 8 much more fluid, as is required for any high-end device today. But here's hoping that it won't repeat the mistake of thinking that a nice design gives it a pass for other downfalls: the ultimate results (photo, sound, etc.) must be up to the competition.

There has to be "special" features

When it comes to pleasing their customers, manufacturers are spoiled for choice. Some manufacturers such as Samsung and LG opt for screen-based innovations, others like Lenovo/Motorola prefer to opt for modules, etc. HMD however preferred not to dip its feet in the pool just yet. And that's unfortunate because now there are other devices in a similar price range that offer for example fast charging, like the Moto G5 Plus. At the end of the day, it's the manufacturer's choice, and the manufacturer certainly had its reasons, but from a user perspective it's a shame to have missed out. As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather have the fast charging than Android 7.1.1, but this is subjective, and there are many that wouldn't agree with me.

Who will be the opponents of the Nokia 8? Will it want to face off against the Samsung Galaxy S8LG G6 and other market leaders, which are the current reference phones? Or will it instead throw its hat in the ring against the OnePlus 5 where it will, without necessarily aiming for first place, still stand a good chance? Depending on the answer, HMD's strategy may be very different.

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Good resolution with a battery that lasts long is the minimum requirement for a high-end smartphone these days. © AndroidPIT

This top of the range device from HMD will undoubtedly offer the classic seen-a-million-times formula of any 2017 high-end phone: Snapdragon 835 processor, dual camera and so on. But if it wants to compete with the key players of the moment, HMD's going to have to come up with more than the bare minimum to stand out. If it wants to position itself better in terms of quality/price ratio, it must satisfy its users with the most useful features. Right now, it has only sought to stand out by being the quickest to have the latest Android version, and has not sought to provide a good experience to the user, so hopefully things will improve with the change.

In short, we can only hope that HMD will pay more attention to the expectations of users for its high-end devices in future. What features would you expect from this Nokia 8? What does HMD have to do to win you over?

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  • Karl E 2 weeks ago Link to comment

    Nokia needs to be up to date in this "modern times" but Nokia needs also to be like in the "classic times" ... the Nokia 3,5,6 are classic and modern ... so they meet the times anyway (my opinion), but Nokia can´t be the company they have been in the years before Microsoft. Lets give them the amount ot time to develope and "evolve" .... At first, the phone should be really in stores ... here in Germany, you can´t buy any untill now (2nd August)

  • yes your being naive, and a victim of your own hype, your the folks that write about stuff.. which includes your own hyped up (overly) big expectations..

    my expectation of Nokia is based on 25yrs use of simple solid reliable and well priced hardware..
    I'm still using a device that's nearly 16yrs old..
    my perception of old Nokia is a brand of excellent value and reliability..

    HMDs Nokia have in a very short time met my expectations.. solid build and well priced hardware and now it seems with exceptional software support.. Nokia 6 gets its July security patch before Pixel !..
    very impressive..
    old Nokia didn't need "software" updates, but new smartphones do and HMD are making all the right moves.

    if you want hyped up features with fashionable flashy specs.. get yourself a Samsung..
    you can for a premium price get a nice glossy glass construction and "enjoy" premium features like Bixby..

    Nokia 8 priced in UK at £500 represents old Nokia's values very well.
    some premium specs.. solid build.. reliable well priced hardware with stock android that's potentially going to be updated and supported as well as Pixel..
    and all this in a very short time..
    Be reasonable...
    they only announced Nokia 3 and Nokia 6 at MWC in February 2017... ffs that's only 6 MONTHS ago.
    now with a possibly more "premium" design Nokia 9 on the way I'm more than impressed with HMDs efforts so far..

  • Go so excited when i heard that Nokia was on its way back with Android,but HMD better get themselves sorted out quickly or the use of the Nokia name might not be successful,we have no Nokia phone yet released in Europe,so how can they hope to compete with Samsung and the rest,loads of consumers already know that Nokia use to produce super camera phones,so will be keeping a close eye on the future Nokia 8,to see if Nokia can produce top class premium phones

  • Nokia was one time holding around 50% of mobile business at one stage. But it loses most of it

    coz NOKIA didn't EVOLVE with time

    Nokia stick to their symbian mobile phones while Samsung launched their Android Phone.
    At first Samsung gain market share as Android phone are easy to use plus user gets more APPS/SOFTWARE to install on their mobile phones.
    Then other companies like Micromax etc also come in market and surviving till now just coz of their Android phones.

    Nokia should have launched their android phones at that time.

    PLUS= Old nokia symbian phones and Lumia series dont have much of the APPS of Android play store.
    Thank you

  • Personally, I think they're doing okay for a new company that managed to get their hands on one of the most iconic brands in the cell-phone market. It will take them a while to get to the point of being able to field super powerful flagships like Samsung or Apple, but if they focus on dominating the mid-range market, that will give them a solid support following that should hopefully follow on when they finally manage to bring flagship or flagship killer handsets to bear.

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