HMD Global will be able to continue developing and selling new Nokia devices with Qualcomm technology inside, including the latest iterations of those, following a recently revealed direct worldwide license arrangement covering branded single-mode and multimode devices.
Details surrounding the deal are slim but it does include royalty-based licensing of 3G, 4G, and 5G technologies. In statements associated with the announcement, Qualcomm Technology Licensing executive Alex Rogers indicates that the agreement builds on previous arrangements with HMD Global and alludes to 5G transitional technology. HMD Global CEO Florian Seiche points to the technology enabling further innovation and devices that get better over time.
No financials tied to the deal have been released.
5G Nokia, anyone?
Nokia, as a brand, is no stranger to 5G and has taken part in multiple tests of the next-gen networking tech over the past several years. Those have included tests performed alongside Qualcomm and at least one test rollout that built the foundation for 5G in the Middle East with Zain Saudi Arabia. But this may be the first official indication that a 5G smartphone is on the way from the HMD Global-run mobile side of the brand.
Rumors first cropped up about the possibility of a Nokia 5G handset back in January and, if speculation is to be believed, the first of those will be a direct follow-up to the device HMD Global launched in February. While the Nokia 9 Pureview is very nearly a flagship in its own right, it didn't actually come with the latest hardware on board and 5G certainly wasn't part of the package.
Priced to sell at $699, that device was a Snapdragon 845-powered 5.99-inch handset with five 12-megapixel cameras, software to match, and a whopping 6GB RAM with 128GB storage. The display panel on that is a Quad HD+ P-OLED screen. A 20-megapixel selfie camera and 4,000mAh battery packed into a modern design, bringing everything together.
Rumors of a 2019 follow-up to that have centered around a similarly powerful device with improvements such as the inclusion of a 5G-capable Snapdragon 855 processor. RAM and storage could get a boost as well as the battery and cameras, building off of recent trends in the market pushing the boundaries on both fronts. It's not immediately clear whether or not the device would ship with 5G enabled by default or in different configurations with only one of those supporting the next-gen networks.
Is 2019 a good timeline?
Another detail noticeably missing from Qualcomm's announcement of the deal is a time frame expected before handsets begin hitting the market with technologies covered by the agreement.
With the Nokia 9 Pureview now only a few months old and 5G infrastructure still serving only a very small percentage of the world population, it seems unlikely that 2019 will see the launch of a 5G Nokia handset.
A significant portion of the growth in terms of 5G isn't expected until well into 2020 or 2021, varying from region to region. Advanced variants of 4G LTE are much more widespread and can offer speeds in excess of 500Mbps based on widely reported tests. So being among the first to release handsets capable of taking advantage of 5G's reduced latency and increased speed may not be among HMD Global's top priorities just yet.