Nokia Launches Nokia 6, Its First Android Smartphone

Finnish cellphone manufacturer Nokia has finally launched its first Android smartphone, the Nokia 6.

However, it’s a very limited launch as of now, with the phone being available only in the Chinese market, Engadget reports. The limited launch does nevertheless indicate that Nokia is moving closer to selling the Nokia 6 or other smartphones in the U.S. and European markets.

“The decision by HMD to launch its first Android smartphone into China is a reflection of the desire to meet the real world needs of consumers in different markets around the world,” Nokia’s parent company, HMD Global, said in a statement quoted by Engadget. “With over 552 million smartphone users in China in 2016, a figure that is predicted to grow to more than 593 million users by 2017, it is a strategically important market where premium design and quality is highly valued by consumers.”

Microsoft had previously been partnered with Nokia to sell smartphones with the Nokia branding but eventually opted out of the deal. That is when HMD Global, which is also based in Finland, stepped in and signed a licensing deal to sell Nokia phones.

HMD began selling traditional Nokia cellular phones last year, and there has been talk for some time that they were moving into the Android market.

Nokia was once one of the strongest competitors in the cell phone industry, but its sales peaked at 120 million units globally in 2010, Business Insider previously reported. Since then, it’s sales and stock shares have been in a steady decline.

That’s one reason Microsoft stepped away from the deal in 2015 after purchasing the company in 2014 — and losing a whole mess of money on the wager

“Given that Microsoft is about to axe another 7,800 employees, take a restructuring charge of $750 million to $850 million related to the layoffs plus a $7.6 billion impairment charge, it’s hard to argue that the $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s phone business 18 months ago was anything but folly,” Barb Darrow wrote in a July, 2015, story for Fortune.

Microsoft eventually sold its stake in Nokia to Chinese manufacturer Foxconn for a comparatively paltry $350 million.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Nokia. The company is entering the Android and smartphone market at a particularly competitive time.

Apple is still way ahead of the smartphone pack, capturing 91 percent of all smartphone profits for the third quarter of 2016, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Samsung is on the rebound and is expected to post record profits for the final quarter of 2016, despite the Note 7 recall debacle. Granted, most of Samsung’s profits came from its semiconductor division, but that still leaves the company with plenty of capital power. And Chinese smartphone giant Huawei just launched its Mate 9 Android in Europe last year and is about to do so in the United States.

Competition is tight.

Africa and Asia are the two fastest-growing mobile phone markets. If there is a place where Nokia can slip in and get a toehold in a growing market, China might be the best bet. They still have a tough fight ahead, though.

That said, Engadget had good things to say about the new Nokia 6.

“The Nokia 6, however, is a legit LTE smartphone that runs Nougat out of the box,” the Engadget review reports. “It has a 5.5-inch HD screen, 16MP rear and 8MB front cameras, is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 processor and packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.”

Nokia might have another edge as well: Price.

For a legit LTE smartphone with solid features, the Nokia 6 will be selling for a very reasonable 1,699 Chinese yuan, which works out to about $246 USD.

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]