HMD aims to bring 'accessible' 5G Nokia smartphones to US carriers after latest funding round


UPDATE: While HMD Global didn't initially care to elaborate on the actual names of the "top global strategic partners" that contributed to the latest $230 million investment into the future of the Nokia smartphone portfolio, TechCrunch got CEO Florian Seiche to confirm their identities in Google, Qualcomm, and Nokia itself.

That would be a stellar trio of partners even for mobile industry veterans, let alone a 2016-founded company. In case you're wondering, this 2016-founded company claims to have sold a grand total of over 70 million phones in 2019 alone, with the advent of 5G expected to boost that number as early as next year. Next year is also when HMD expects to launch a 5G device at a "mid tier price point." More specifically, around mid-year.

In the meantime, the upper mid-range Nokia 8.3 5G remains vaguely slated for US and European availability in a "matter of weeks." Our original story follows below.


Back in 2016, when a little Finland-based startup called HMD Global secured the exclusive licensing rights to the Nokia brand for both the smartphone and "dumb phone" markets, we... really didn't know what to expect.

As unlikely as it initially seemed, the unknown company managed to do what Microsoft couldn't, putting the Nokia name on the Android map with an extensive portfolio of aggressively priced low to mid-end devices. These quickly developed somewhat of a cult following across various European and Asian markets thanks to their robust hardware and stellar software support.

HMD-made Nokia smartphones didn't take very long to enter the US either, with the company's regional lineup currently including almost two dozen models sold both unlocked and on carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and Cricket Wireless. Obviously, there's always room for better US operator support as far as non-Apple and Samsung devices are concerned, with HMD Global looking to go the extra mile in the near future to strengthen those ties.

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One of the company's biggest short-term objectives is "make 5G smartphones accessible to consumers across the world, with an emphasis on strong partnerships with US carriers" that will be accelerated by the closure of a $230 million Series A2 funding round.

This follows in the footsteps of a $100 million round of funding closed a little over two years ago to help "aggressively expand" the Nokia-branded smartphone portfolio. Seeing as how that goal was undoubtedly met, we can safely expect HMD Global to succeed in launching "accessible" 5G handsets on US carriers before long.

The Nokia 8.3 5G could be the first such product to see daylight on the likes of Verizon this fall, although for the time being, we only know an unlocked variant of the 6.8-incher is headed for US stores... at some point... at an unspecified price. Besides, we're not too optimistic about the affordability of that particular device, so let's hope HMD is planning to bring even cheaper 5G-enabled Nokia smartphones stateside in the near future.

The $230 million investment secured from a number of unspecified "top global strategic partners" will also be used towards "further transitioning to digital-first offerings as part of a new post-COVID reality", as well as expanding HMD's presence in "key growth markets" like Brazil, Africa, and India.

In case you're wondering, HMD Global made Counterpoint Research's top ten smartphone vendor list for Q2 2019, failing to retain that position however in the subsequent quarters, which means this latest capital injection definitely comes at an opportune time.

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