The company that makes Nokia phones is spinning off its own branded phones

Nokia XR20 standing upright on a table with its back shown off
(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The company behind Nokia phones is making a "new portfolio of HMD branded mobile devices."
  • HMD Global will make Nokia phones and HMD phones simultaneously, plus other unnamed "partners." 
  • HMD obtained the Nokia license in 2016 but only has access to it until 2026, unless a new agreement is signed.  

HMD Global CEO Jean-Francois Baril announced on Monday that the company would establish its own HMD brand of smartphones. HMD is best known for its Nokia-branded phones, but now it wants to make a bigger name for itself within the Android community.

In his LinkedIn announcement, Baril explained that his company would produce HMD and Nokia phones in tandem. He did not give a timetable but mentioned in a comment that we "will be hearing very soon about [their] launch."

In addition, Baril hinted that HMD would work with "other partners" to produce phones. We don't know yet who these partners are, but the post emphasizes HMD's expertise in the European market, which may indicate where these phones will sell. 

HMD Global acquired the Nokia license in 2016, after Microsoft sold off its smartphone business and lost access to the brand. Since then, HMD started off with a wide range of Nokia phones with Android One software and fast updates, including the experimental Nokia 9 Pureview camera phone, before slowly transitioning its focus to budget Android phones and tablets.

Although long-time Android fans associate the Nokia name with excitement and innovation, HMD's time with the brand has had no shortage of controversies. Part of the blame goes to Google, which could never deliver the speedy updates that the Android One program promised

When HMD itself failed to update the Pureview to a promised Android 11 update and then "gave up" on flagships for budget fare in 2022, it pushed a lot of former Nokia customers to other brands.

HMD Global has ownership of the Nokia license through 2026. It's possible that the company could extend this license, but this latest move suggests that (at the very least) HMD is covering its bases in case it cannot, building brand awareness with consumers instead of remaining tied to another company's name.

In the meantime, HMD will still continue to make phones like the recent Nokia G22, a sub-$200 phone that was designed to be easily repairable by consumers. 

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.

  • fuzzylumpkin
    They probably need to, because I had forgotten they existed and would have thought Nokia phones were manufactured by TCL. If I ever thought about Nokia phones in 2023.
  • G4Grandad
    I have had a Nokia (5.3) HMD built phone for nearly 3 years. They still make a few really good phones claiming to offer 3 years of guaranteed OS and software updates. Sadly that guarantee seems worthless. Their"flagship" model released more than a year ago on Android 12 is still waiting for Android 13. My Nokia was still one Android 11 when Android 13 was released. It did eventually get Android 12 but their version has ruined the performance and stability. I'll never but another from Nokia or HMD