​Nokia attempts a smartphone comeback with Android

By using a standardized, secure version of Google's Android in its new smartphones, the Nokia brand seeks to rise from the ashes.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Remember when Nokia was the powerhouse of mobile phones? Remember when Windows Phone was Nokia's primary operating system? Under a new owner, HMD Global, the brand is trying to make a comeback to the top with Android smartphones.

It's a smart move. While most of the attention is going to Nokia's 8110 4G, a modern, low-powered slider phone you may remember from The Matrix, which runs KaiOS, there's so many users who want to take a nostalgic visit to 1999 feature phones.

Many more people want a smartphone with vanilla Android. Android users tend to hate vendor specific interfaces; glued in add-on programs, which just devour battery life; and annoying customized standard programs. These people may well want a Nokia 8 Sirocco, and the Nokia 7 Plus, Nokia 6, or entry-level Nokia 1.

Fancy? No. While the Nokia 8 Siorocco, Nokia's swanky flagship phone, looks good, what has the people who want high-end luxury smartphones salivating are the new Samsung Galaxy S9 models. But these no-frills Android operating systems -- Android One and Android Go for the Nokia 1 -- work great for someone who wants a clean Android experience and monthly security updates.

Google calls Android One the "purest form of Android". What do they mean by that? It's plain-Jane Android with all the Google programs. That's what you used to get in Google's Nexus phones, but those smartphones were built with Google's help. With Android One, any vendor can make phones using this no-frills version of Android.

Well, I say "no frills", but Android One comes with built-in Google Play Protect to help secure your phone and it's optimized for use with Google Assistant. That, and all the Google Apps, really makes it attractive.

Nokia handsets through the ages: Bricks, bananas, and back

The real advantage is for two years, you'll get all Android major updates and monthly security updates. With this one simple move, Google and Nokia have removed the pain point that afflicts most Android phones: The lack of timely updates and patches.

This is a huge deal if you care about security and software updates. If all you want is the next biggest and thinnest phone, look elsewhere. There's always another pretty phone. But, if you're serious about getting work done with your phone, you must check out the new Nokia phones.

Can this work? Can HMD Global get Nokia to rise up from the grave? ABI Research analyst David McQueen thinks so. "By resurrecting its distribution partners and building a solid partnership with Google, most notably through Android One with the promise of a 'pure, secure and up to date' experience, the company is slowly rising from the ashes as a brand to once again be taken seriously in the mobile phone marketplace," McQueen said.

I think Nokia can rise again. And I never thought I'd be saying that. What do you think?

Previous and Related Coverage:

Nokia 8110 Matrix phone points the way back to the future for smartphones
A banana-yellow retro phone may be one of the most forward-looking devices on display at MWC because it puts design front and centre again.
Nokia 8110 'Matrix' slider phone is back: This time it's reloaded with 4G
The Nokia 8110 curved slider phone makes a return in bright 'banana yellow'.
Nokia revamps smartphone lineup with Nokia 8 Sirocco, hits multiple price points at Mobile World Congress
HMD's second phase of bringing back the Nokia smartphone cache includes a high-end flagship, devices at every price point and naturally an old school reboot of a slide design.
Nokia 8 review: A solid but uninspiring flagship
There's little truly remarkable about the Nokia 8, but it delivers a flagship spec and excellent battery life at a competitive price.

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