Nokia 2021 & ahead: A look back to expect what’s coming forward

Over the years Nokia has been one of the most loved brands in India. Right from the days of early 2G communication, Nokia was the king. Phones from Nokia were by far the most durable and had the best battery life in those days. Right from the Nokia 1100 to the N-series, people bought them like hot cakes! Personally, I had a phone from every segment, with the Nokia N73 being my final purchase from the brand back in the day before I shifted to using Android around 2011-2012. This article sums up some of the “greatest hits” for Nokia phones in India. To know how far Nokia has come, we begin at “The End” of Nokia or, Nokia 1.0 back in the day.

The Windows Phone era

After the end of the original Nokia phone brand, its acquisition by Microsoft, and later by HMD Global through a licensing deal), the main focus has shifted to a different product segment. Before we look into the Android phase we go over the highlights of Nokia under Microsoft and some of the innovations in the phone brand and how the phone brand was rekindled with the Windows Phone Project.

The top end Lumia series experienced good success with the great cameras and intuitive UI. The Nokia Lumia 920 was reviewed on this website, and was very pleasing back in the day. This was a time when both Windows Phone and the desktop Windows OS were starting to have many shared libraries.

Nokia Lumia 920

The idea is that any developer with a Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8 app, won’t have to start from scratch in order to make the app available on the other platforms.

Nokia Lumia 920 review, Cristian Trohin (2013)

This is a very significant shift that Microsoft made. Although the Windows Phone as a platform is completely done now and is abandoned, Microsoft is still trying to integrate phones onto Windows 10 better. Microsoft and Samsung have launched a syncing system that pretty much lets any user use their phone along with most of its capabilities from a computer itself. Information about it can be found here.

What else?

Consumer mobile phones are only maybe half the brand that Nokia is. It’s no secret how Nokia had a huge presence in the networking equipment market. Nokia Networks is one of the largest divisions in the company with presence in over 150 countries. Nokia Networks has been in this industry way back when CDMA and GSM were in its nascent stage. Today it ships the current 5G deployment equipment that are being used in many countries around the world. To the surprise of many, a lot of this manufacturing has been taking place in India. The manufacturing plant located at Chennai, India was established in the year 2008. Nokia has invested nearly INR 600 crore into making it a world class facility. We shall explore some of the major manufacturing work done at that plant and its plan going forward in 2021 and beyond.

Nokia India: 2021 & Beyond

  1. Nokia nMIMO (Nokia Airscale): Since 2018, the company has been manufacturing the 5G New Radio (NR) based on the 3GPP 5G New Radio Release 15 standard. This standard was designed to be the global standard for 5G devices (air interface). It has two frequency ranges, along with two deployment modes. When initially launched, these networks launched in a “non-standalone” mode. Much like how 2G & 3G co-existed and later 3G & 4G to help the transition from 4G to 5G. A standalone mode is also available that would help the deployment once this transition is completed.
  1. Mobile Phones: According to reports earlier, HMD Global wishes to turn India into a global hub for the export of low cost 4G and 5G mobile phones from India. The government is ready to disburse up to Rs 40,951 crores as production-linked benefits over a period of 5 years. However, some earlier reports indicated that the components of these phones need to be manufactured in India. This is to make the whole process a financially viable incentive in the long run. Manufacturers can be granted incentives from 4% to 6% by the government over a period of 5 years.

What’s Next?

After it’s first sale to Microsoft, Nokia has come a long way. It has consolidated its position in the next generation equipment manufacturing. Going forward, it seems India will play an even greater role for the products that are in the pipeline. The reputation Nokia had in India as a whole was second to none. Even when it made some “sub-par” products, the desire for Nokia products had not gone down. When earlier Android phones used to lag a lot, a lot of people dreamed about Nokia launching one phone in the market that wouldn’t lag and have good battery. Of course, it couldn’t happen under Microsoft but under HMD Global there is no such restriction.

Nokia is no longer a new-entrant into the Android segment. The move may have benefited if it happened several years earlier. Something like a Nokia Lumia 920 running a decluttered version would have been killer. Still, better late than neve . Even with various phones in the pipeline, and the recently launched Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 5.4 things are definitely getting better from a product point of view for the company. HMD global has been certainly been releasing some good phones now and it’s only getting better. Will we see a return to the old Nokia from the early 2000s? It’s hard to say. But one thing is for sure, Nokia is cementing its place both in the consumer and enterprise space with each new product. Here’s to a great decade ahead!

Karan Raj Baruah