Snake helped sell 10m retro Nokias — flip-phone is next

HMD Global plans to release its 1st 5G smartphone in 2020

By NATE LANXON / BLOOMBERG

THE company behind Nokia-branded phones said it’s sold more than 10 million retro-revival handsets. Now, it’s revamping the flip phone.

The Nokia 2720 has 2 screens — a primary display measuring 71mm, and a smaller, 33mm one on the outside for notifications

Florian Seiche, CEO of HMD Global Oy — which produces consumer products under the Nokia name — said the company would also release its first 5G smartphone in 2020. It would be “affordable, yet premium”, compared to what’s available to consumers in Europe today.

“We’ve started making investments in 5G and have a very focused strategy together with Qualcomm Inc and Google Inc,” Seiche said.

First launched in 2000, the Nokia 3310 featured a small monochrome display and the instant hit game Snake.

It went on to sell in the millions.

The revamped, slimmer version released two years ago included a colour screen, but many of the basic features remained intact, including Snake.

An updated version of the Nokia 8110, as used by Keanu Reeves’ character Neo in 1999’s “The Matrix”, was released a year later.

Seiche said the popularity of the two relaunched products led HMD Global to launch a classically inspired “flip phone” in Berlin last Thursday, along with a range of new mid-range smartphones running Google’s Android operating system.

The Nokia 2720 has two screens — a primary display measuring 71mm, and a smaller, 33mm one on the outside for notifications.

Flipping open the device answers any calls. The phone doesn’t use Google’s Android, but does feature the Google Assistant, as well as Facebook and WhatsApp.

An updated version of the Nokia 8110 was released last year

It’ll go on sale later in September across Europe and cost about €89 (RM411). “It’s for people who were previously smartphone-rejectors,” Seiche said.

Premium device makers have been trying to get consumers to upgrade their phones more frequently, but high prices, the increasing similarity of designs and strong competition from cheaper Chinese brands are making that harder.

It also opened a window of opportunity for HMD Global to use a historic brand to market feature phones that can cost US$30 (RM126) or less, Seiche said. It’s been helped by the trade war between the US and China that’s hit demand for devices from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

“The strongest impact we’re seeing is the interest from European operator partners, and it’s meant we’ve been able to accelerate our US growth plans,” Seiche said of the trade dispute. — Bloomberg