HMD Global reveals their first non-Nokia branded smartphones

HMD Global's first phones without the Nokia branding are finally here, targeting the budget-tier with its new handsets.

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By Aaditya Menon

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HMD Branded Smartphones

In a bold move that signifies a strategic pivot, HMD Global, the company once synonymous with the revival of Nokia phones, has announced its first series of self-branded smartphones. The launch of the HMD Vibe and Pulse series marks the company’s transition from leveraging the nostalgic Nokia brand to establishing its own identity in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

HMD Vibe and Pulse Series: Catering to Varied Consumer Needs

Various countries in Europe and other parts of the world are getting a trio of smartphones under the HMD Pulse moniker. All the smartphones are in the budget category, with barely passable specs in a 2024 smartphone. Amongst the announced devices, the HMD Pulse Pro stands out as their top tier offering, boasting a dual camera system at the rear with a 50MP primary and 2MP depth sensor. The company has branded it as “50MP AI Camera”, although it is unclear what AI features will be available with this smartphone.

For a $150 smartphone in 2024, the Vibe’s rear camera combination may not make a dent amongst the competition as these HMD smartphones no longer have Zeiss Lenses and the Nokia Pro Camera features – a hallmark of previous Nokia smartphones. The 5MP front-facing camera might not be a great choice for 2024 either. The one thing that does call for being a great choice is the IP52 rating for a budget phone, ensuring durability against dust and water sprays.

It also houses a 6.56-inch HD+ display with a 90Hz refresh rate, and a 5,000mAh battery and the company claims the battery would last for two days. The internals of the smartphone are powered by the Unisoc T606 processor, a very surprising choice in 2024 as the SoC does not come with 5G connectivity, an important feature available with their competition. It comes in two variants: one with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, and another with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. The Pulse Pro is available in three colours: Glacier Green, Black Ocean, and Twilight Purple.

The HMD Pulse and Pulse+ share the same internal specifications as the Pulse Pro, ensuring consistent performance across the range. The Pulse+ offers similar memory, camera and storage configurations as the Pro model, while the standard Pulse scales back slightly with options for 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage paired with a 13MP rear camera. Both phones are restricted with 10W wired charging with no wireless charging capabilities. HMD Global has not yet revealed the pricing information for any of the three smartphones in the Pulse lineup.

The HMD Vibe is a rebadged HMD Pulse launching in the United States market. Priced at an affordable $145 for the unlocked version, the smartphone is poised to disrupt the budget smartphone segment. It has the similar specs as the HMD Pulse, except for the Snapdragon 680 processor, which also does not have 5G capabilities. It is also coupled with a lesser 4000 mAh battery and has only one variant: 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, expandable up to 512GB via microSD card.

Software Updates, India Launch?

All the four announced smartphones are powered by the Android 14 operating system, with HMD Global committing to two years of Android upgrades and three years of Android security updates. While this commitment to software excellence should be a testament to HMD Global’s dedication to providing a secure and up-to-date user experience, their previous track record with software updates for their Nokia branded smartphones hasn’t been so great, particularly with the more recently launched phones.

It is also not clear whether the HMD branded phones will have a clean Android like the Nokia smartphones had, or whether it will now start housing bloatware like most other budget smartphone manufacturers these days. There is also no word yet on an India launch for either of these smartphones, however HMD Global has been ramping up its manufacturing capabilities in India lately, by tying up with various manufacturers like Foxconn, Dixon and Lava. It has also recently announced a partnership with the IPL team Rajasthan Royals, so one should expect HMD to launch their self-branded smartphones in India within the next few weeks.

A new era for HMD Global

The introduction of the HMD Vibe and Pulse series is more than just a product launch; it’s a declaration of HMD Global’s ambition to carve out its own niche in the market. With competitive pricing, regular software updates, and a focus on user needs, HMD Global is not just challenging its rivals but also redefining its corporate identity. As the Vibe becomes available in May and the Pulse series makes its debut in European markets, the industry watches with anticipation to see the impact of HMD Global’s strategic shift.

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Aaditya Menon

News Reporter

83 articles published
Aaditya is a cricket and video gaming enthusiast. He loves writing about developments in and around mobiles, games and software.

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They couldn't sell Nokia. How do they plan on selling their own branded phones?

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If they couldn't sell smartphones with the name and brand value of Nokia then for sure they won't be selling any with HMD name😂😂

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