Last year, HMD Global acquired the rights to use the Nokia brand in smartphones. The company went on to launch its first Nokia-branded Android phones at MWC 2017. The Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3 were later followed by the flagship Nokia 8, mid-range Nokia 7, and the low-end Nokia 2. At MWC 2018 in February, HMD launched its new device portfolio consisting of the Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 7 Plus, Nokia 6 (2018), and the entry-level Nokia 1.
The company’s phones have been praised for shipping with stock Android, and for quick updates. However, up until now, HMD Global hadn’t released the kernel source for any of its phones. As such, this was a violation of the GPLv2 license. The company stated that releasing kernel source code was a work in progress back in September, but we hadn’t heard anything since then.
This changes now as HMD Global has released the kernel source code for the first-generation Nokia 6 as well as the Android Go-powered Nokia 1. The Nokia 6 shipped with Android Nougat and has received its Android Oreo update, while the Nokia 1 is powered by Android Oreo (Go edition). The company still doesn’t offer the kernel sources for other phones in the company’s lineup, including the flagship Nokia 8.
Also, the second part of the equation — offering an official bootloader unlock tool — is still absent. In September, the company stated that it would not unlock the bootloaders of its devices for “security reasons,” but then went on to say that it would unlock one phone at a time. It has been seven months since then, and we have yet to hear anything more about the official bootloader unlock tool. This means that all Nokia phones still have locked bootloaders which can’t be unlocked officially.
Naturally, this means that development for HMD Global’s devices is crippled. The release of kernel sources won’t help development until the company releases an official bootloader unlock tool, as things such as TWRP or custom ROMs remain out of the question. The lack of a bootloader unlock tool also means that users of newer Project Treble-enabled Nokia devices that shipped with Android Oreo (such as the Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 7 Plus, and more) can’t flash a Generic System Image (GSI) of Android Oreo.
At XDA, we urge HMD Global to follow up on its promises and fulfill the legal requirements of the GPLv2 license by releasing the kernel source code of every Nokia-branded phone. We also urge the company to release an official bootloader unlock tool, which will help start development for Nokia phones. The release of the tool would be a win for all parties involved in the matter, and here’s hoping that HMD Global steps up in this regard.
Download kernel source code for the Nokia 6 and the Nokia 1