This is a stealthily smart move.
Nokia's making some waves in the Android market, and came out swinging in 2017 with several phones at affordable price points with solid design and really good specs. Its phones have been lauded for offering a very clean and well-performing version of Android, both with its initial Nougat builds and later with Oreo updates.
Now, the company says it's partnering with Google and committing to using the Android One software on all of its smartphones going forward. That means everything at the Nokia 3 level and above — the Nokia 1 is an Android Go phone, and the featurephone-level devices like the Nokia 8110 aren't running Android in the first place.
Starting with the new Nokia 8 Sirocco and Nokia 7 Plus, we're going to see Nokia's phones ship with the Android One "version" of Android — currently, 8.0 Oreo. I put "version" in quotes because it's important to understand that Android One isn't a separate track of Android at all — it's functionally identical, but simply passes an extra level of scrutiny from Google in terms of performance, functionality and user experience; plus a full suite of Google's apps and services, of course. In return for playing by Google's rules, you get help in terms of software updates and support. Win-win, really.
Functionally there isn't a whole lot different between what Nokia was already doing with software and what Android One promises to offer, but this Google partnership does provide a bit of confidence and credence to the Nokia brand as its reinvents itself.
Having Google's stamp of approval helps give potential buyers confidence in the Nokia brand.
Having Google's stamp of approval to make these new phones Android One "certified" (for lack of a better term) helps give potential buyers confidence that the performance and experience will be solid — and of course it also comes with a guarantee of two years of platform updates. The €399 Nokia 7 Plus is precisely the kind of phone the Android One program has started to target recently, with really good specs and interesting hardware at an affordable mid-range price. At the same time, the €749 Nokia 8 Sirocco is immediately the most expensive Android One phone by a wide margin — but even though it has high-end specs it can still benefit from the Google-sanctioned software experience.
We don't have details on what this means for Nokia's current handful of phones that shipped in the last year, but my best guess is that they continue on their own software paths as they're slowly replaced by new models under the Android One software branding.
Introducing five new Nokia phones
Pure, secure and up-to-date Android reinforced with smartphone portfolio commitment to Android One programme
Barcelona, Spain, 25 February 2018 – HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, today announced four new additions to its award-winning portfolio of Android smartphones – Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 7 Plus, new Nokia 6 and Nokia 1. Delivering all the craftsmanship you expect from a Nokia phone, each new smartphone offers durability and reliability as standard, with the range setting new benchmarks in materials and design.
Furthering its promise to a pure, smart, secure and up-to-date Android experience, HMD Global also announced it is to become the first global partner to have a full suite of devices selected into the Android One programme by Google. The unwavering commitment to deliver a pure, secure and up-to-date Android experience has ensured Nokia smartphones were a natural fit for the global programme.
In addition to these stunning new Android smartphones, the iconic Nokia 8110 is reloaded, delivering 4G connectivity, apps including Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Search, Facebook and Twitter, and the return of the slider phone.
Pure, secure and up-to-date reinforced with Android One commitment
Three new Nokia smartphones – the Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 7 Plus and the new Nokia 6 – join the Android One family, offering a high quality software experience designed by Google. Each phone will stay fresh over time with the latest AI powered innovations to the highest grade of security from Google. With a pure Android installation, Nokia smartphones come with no unnecessary UI changes or hidden processes that would eat up battery life or slow them down so you can enjoy your new phone for longer. Each of the new phones comes with a limited number of pre-installed apps so that you'll get more storage space, as well as the latest innovations that help you stay ahead of the game every day.
By shipping with Android Oreo™ out of the box, you'll be able to enjoy the latest features, including Picture-in-Picture for multitasking, Android Instant Apps to discover and run apps with minimal friction, 60 fantastic new emojis and battery-maximising features like limiting background app use.
Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer of HMD Global, said:
"We pride ourselves on making smartphones that address real-world needs. Our commitment to pure, secure and up-to-date Android is core to our strategy and is loved by consumers. Today, we take that commitment to a deeper level by becoming the lead partner for the Android One programme globally, delivering an experience that is endorsed by Google."
Pekka Rantala, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer of HMD Global, said:
"A smartphone is an everyday partner and something people need to know they can rely on. Last year we promised that we would deliver on all the hallmarks of a true Nokia phone experience and that we would live up to the trust people have in the Nokia brand. This year, we are delighted to join the Android One programme that reinforces our commitment to pure, secure and up-to-date Android and makes us a natural choice. Today, with our expanded portfolio, we feel every consumer can pick a Nokia phone they can truly rely on."
Jamie Rosenberg, VP, Business & Operations, Android & Google Play:
"Android One is our flagship partner programme, and this comprehensive line-up of new Nokia smartphones represents our biggest partnership to date. Now, users around the world can find the perfect device to fit their needs and know they're getting a high-quality hardware and software experience that's smart, secure, and simply amazing."