Nokia smartphone with near $1,000 price tag launches to compete with Apple and Samsung devices

  • HMD Global, the company that now makes Nokia-branded phones, launched a slew of smartphones on Sunday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
  • The smartphones are the Nokia 1, a new version of the Nokia 6, the Nokia 7 Plus and the Nokia 8 Sirocco, HMD's most premium offering.
  • At 749 euros ($921), the Nokia 8 Sirocco is nearing the $999 price of Apple's iPhone X.
The full range of Nokia-branded phones launched by HMD Global at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona.
HMD Global
The full range of Nokia-branded phones launched by HMD Global at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona.

HMD Global, the company that now makes Nokia-branded phones, launched a slew of smartphones on Sunday, including a high-end offering to compete with giants Apple and Samsung.

The smartphones are the Nokia 1, a new version of the Nokia 6, the Nokia 7 Plus and the Nokia 8 Sirocco, HMD's most premium offering.

At 749 euros ($921), the Nokia 8 Sirocco is nearing the $999 price of Apple's iPhone X. The Nokia device runs on Android, has a 5.5-inch curved display, with a dual camera and wireless charging. It will be available in April, although the company did not reveal if it would be sold via a carrier in the U.S.

HMD also unveiled a new version of the Nokia 6 at 279 euros, and the Nokia 7 Plus at 399 euros. All of the devices run Google's Android mobile operating system.

HMD is expanding its portfolio of smartphones to offer devices at different price points.

"It's a critical year for HMD to again to make a deeper impact in the key geographies and our path is to become one of the key smartphone players," Florian Seiche, CEO of HMD global, told CNBC ahead of the launch at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

HMD said it sold 70 million smartphones and feature phones in 2017, even though it was only selling devices for two quarters. The company would not break down what percentage of that was smartphones.

"Of course, still a very large number is on feature phones, but the momentum on smartphones is really great," Seiche said.

Feature phone upgrades

Beyond mid-to-high-end smartphones, Nokia also took the wraps off of an $85 device called the Nokia 1. It runs Android Oreo Go Edition, a version of Google's mobile operating system designed for entry level devices. Apps on the Go Edition use less data, which is key for emerging markets where data is more expensive.

Around 400 million feature phones are expected to be sold this year, according to CCS Insight, and HMD is hoping to convert those people still using such devices and bring them into the Nokia brand.

"We see especially with the Nokia 1 there is this unique opportunity that so many previous feature phones users are getting ready to embrace smartphones, and there were maybe reasons why they haven't moved to a smartphone as quickly as we would have liked," Seiche said.

The Nokia 1 will have key Android features such as Google Assistant. HMD also revealed a remake of the Nokia 8110 "banana phone" with 4G connectivity.

Key markets

Seiche said there are a number of key markets around the world for Nokia, especially those that are still growing despite an overall dip in global smartphone demand. India is one of those markets. Smartphone shipments in India grew 14 percent in 2017, while the global market was relatively flat, according to data from IDC.

HMD has its own factory in India, and Seiche revealed to CNBC that the company is thinking of setting up another, which will help bring costs down and get products out faster.

"Cost is one consideration, but… the ability to be to market quickly is very important," he said.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.