03/03/2017 2:37 PM IST | Updated 03/03/2017 3:45 PM IST

Finnish Phone-Maker Nokia Will Face The Chinese Challenge In India

It will have plenty of user goodwill when it hits the Indian market in Q2 of 2017.

Paul Hanna / Reuters

The new Nokia smartphone announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was greeted with a huge cheer in the user community. The legendary Finnish phone brand announced the launch of three new smartphones, along with a resurrected model of Nokia 3310 at the event. Nokia has partnered with HMD global to design and manufacture the phones. And, it plans to bring the devices to India in Q2 of 2017.

There is little doubt that Nokia is still a cherished brand name in India, with legions who grew up using its phones. The current scenario is of course quite altered. Nokia will no longer be producing the phones itself. While the devices will bear the Nokia name tag, it is HMD Global that will make and sell them.

The sale of Microsoft's feature phone business — which had taken over Nokia's mobile phone business earlier — led to the founding of HMD Global. Many staff members in the company are experienced Nokia professionals. HMD Global understands the importance of India, with its huge potential customer base, in the smartphone market. The phone-maker will face its own challenges here.

Nokia phones were known to be reliable and sturdy. While the keynote at Barcelona duly highlighted these features in the new phones, they are yet to be proven in practice. Only a few users have laid their hands on the Nokia 6, the highest end Nokia phone in the market right now.

Eddie Keogh / Reuters

The phone, which is priced at 229 Euros (₹16,100 approx.) does not carry a specification sheet matching many other phones in that range. Assuming that the Nokia 6 will be released at a similar price in India, it will face stiff competition from established Chinese players such as Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Vivo.

The Nokia 6 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor whereas competitors are using the latest Snapdragon 625 chip. This could lead to a noticeable difference in performance. The camera being crucial to the whole smartphone experience these days, HMD Global will have to ensure that users are happy with their phone cameras.

The phone-maker will be launching the phone with Google Assistant, but by then the AI feature will also be available in most other new phones. HMD Global has also promised to provide a secure and pure Android experience with regular updates and a key factor in ensuring this is battery life, something that Nokia fans swear by till date.

Chinese smartphone companies have done tremendously well in India in the past year. While HDM Global has said that Nokia phones will be manufactured in India in partnership with Foxconn, sales channels are still unclear. Brands relying on online sales, such as Xiaomi and Lenovo, have taken their time to grow, while OEMs such as Oppo and Vivo have banked on offline channels to gain market share.

In all likelihood, Nokia will sell a lot of phones initially because of the brand's legacy. Whether it will be able to sustain that momentum remains to be seen.