Android is a diverse ecosystem, and while there are many who are glad to heft about Samsung or LG's latest heavily-skinned device, Android purists that like things the way Google intended them may want to look to Nokia. Relatively new to the Android space, the long-time phone maker currently conducts much of its business through HMD Global, and the vice president of that company took to the stage at a recent trade show in Dubai to declare that not only are OEMs overdoing it with their customizations to Android in most cases, but that users "have the right to have the latest version" of their favorite smartphone OS. Perhaps more excitingly, he promised that Nokia devices will be pushing those updates out as soon as they're available from Google.
Low cost devices with decent specs, minimal skinning, and quick updates conjure memories of the late Nexus lineage and the regionally limited Android One program, despite HMD Global vice president Per Ekman not mentioning them by name. The smartphones that Nokia has put out thus far using Google's OS do indeed fit that mold nicely, though custom ROM enthusiasts have thus far found themselves disappointed by how difficult the devices are to root, unlock the bootloaders on, and build custom firmwares for. Nokia has yet to say whether this aspect of their devices will be changing. Nokia's last big push in the Android space, the Nokia X, had a fairly robust development community, so there is hope. In any case, the devices, as Ekman notes, show off Nokia's trademark qualities like reliability, high quality, and ease of use quite handily.
According to Ekman, Nokia isn't going anywhere, and HMD's partnerships with them, Google, Foxconn, and other key players in the smartphone field give them access to the kind of technology that they'll need to build a truly competitive product line and stake their claim in the business. The built-in brand appeal doesn't hurt, of course; they managed to sell one million Nokia 6 units within mere seconds of opening up pre-registration in China, a traditionally tough market for outsiders that's fraught with homegrown OEMs who know their demographic quite well. Nokia's first round of new smartphones, including the Nokia 6, Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and a Nokia 3310 update, will be making their way across the globe in the first half of 2017.