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Nokia returns with an Android smartphone but you can’t get it in the US

The first Nokia-branded smartphone will be a 1,699 yuan ($245) device and will be exclusive to the Chinese market.

HMD Global, a start-up formed of ex-Nokia employees which owns the licenses to the Finnish firm's brand, announced the 5.5-inch Nokia 6 Android device on Sunday.

Features of the Nokia 6 include:

  • High-definition display
  • Aluminum body
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor
  • 64-gigabyte storage
  • 16-megapixel rear camera, 8-megapixel front 'selfie' camera

Data from eMarketer estimate that there will be 593 million smartphone users in China this year, up from 552 million in 2016. HMD still feels there is growth in the world's second-largest economy.

"It is a strategically important market where premium design and quality is highly valued by consumers," HMD Global said in a press release Sunday.

HMD Global

But it is also an incredibly tough market, dominated by domestic Chinese players Oppo, Vivo and Huawei, which collectively own around 47 percent of the market, according to Counterpoint Research. On top of that, Apple has struggled with revenues in Greater China falling 30 percent year-over-year in its fiscal fourth quarter.

That's why HMD is selling the Nokia 6 through one of China's biggest online retailers JD.com when it becomes available in early 2017.

"Launching our first smartphone device, in such a strategically important market, with JD.com a trusted online retailer marks a signal of intent," Nestor Xu, vice president of Greater China at HMD Global, said in a press release.

The Nokia 6 is priced competitively and this will be key as it comes up against the likes of Vivo and Oppo who have been known to produce high-spec phones at low prices.

Last year, HMD Global, which is formed of ex-Nokia executives, acquired the rights and intellectual property licenses from the Finnish firm. This gives HMD exclusive global brand licensing rights for the next 10 years.

Under the agreement, Nokia will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of every Nokia-branded mobile phone or tablet.

HMD already announced two dumb phones with the Nokia brand in December called the Nokia 150 and Nokia 150 Dual SIM.