HMD and Nokia have just wrapped up their local launch of Nokia’s new smartphone line-up, and have revealed some fine-looking phones.

They all run Android Oreo, and feature some pretty cool innovations that could potentially tempt South Africans away from their current favourite mobile phone brands. Nokia is launching them into the SA market now, and they will be available through MTN, Vodacom, and Cell C either by the end of the month, or in early May.

Nokia 1

The entry-level model is the Nokia 1, a R999 smartphone that Head of Product Southern Africa at HMD Global, Patrick Henchie, says “brings Nokia craftsmanship to the value segment”.

Looking at it, holding it, and browsing its interface at the event, I have to say he might actually be onto something: the Nokia 1 looks and feels like a quality entry-level device, and while the screen isn’t as sharp as those of more expensive phones, the IPS panel they’ve used makes the colours pop and it was clearly visible in bright daylight. And yes, that’s right: this sub-R1000 phone comes with an IPS display. Impressive, no?

The Nokia 1.

The Nokia 1 runs Android Oreo Go, a lighter version of Android’s new operating system, which won’t put as much strain on its modest internals (1GB RAM, 8GB storage, quad-core MediaTek chip), in order to deliver a rock-solid end-user experience.

All of that for R999 is a pretty compelling offer.

New Nokia 6

The new Nokia 6.

The next entry is the new Nokia 6, an update to the company’s popular original Nokia 6 that introduces a new construction approach: it’s made from a single piece of machined aluminium, and “one strong twist” of a single screw holds everything securely in place. Inside, it’s been updated to the Snapdragon 630 mobile platform, 3GB/64GB or 4GB/128GB of RAM/storage (there are 2 models to choose from), and a gorgeous 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD that’s protected by Gorilla Glass.

The Nokia 6 will retail for R3999, we were told. This is a robust and powerful mid-range phone that’s sure to find an audience among price-sensitive South African smartphone enthusiasts.

Two Flagships

For this year’s line-up, Nokia actually has not one, but two flagship phones, but there’s a twist: the first, the Nokia 7 Plus, is referred to as “A  flagship for everyone” as it’s packed with features but comes with an affordable price tag, whereas the other one, the Nokia 8 Sirocco, is the true flagship – complete with all the high-end specs you’d expect and a price tag to match.

The Nokia 7 Plus.

The 7 Plus uses Qualcomm’s 660 mobile platform, has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It’s a nice, big phone too, with an 18:9 FHD+ screen and a “two-day” battery life is expected from its 3800maH battery. We weren’t told an exact price, but we heard that it should come in at less than R400 per month on a 24-month contract.

Having handled both the 7 Plus and the Sirocco, I must say I am impressed with Nokia’s craftsmanship on both phones. They feel as over-engineered as they appear, although the Sirocco is slightly heavier (which I personally prefer). The 7 Plus is surprisingly lightweight for a high-end phone, even though it has Gorilla Glass protecting its front and six layers of ceramic paint protecting its underside. That’s the phone to go for if you’re a fan of big-but-not-huge phones.

The Sirocco, meanwhile, is a thing of beauty. It’s protected on both sides by Gorilla Glass, which sandwich a single piece of machined stainless steel that protects its powerful internals. The edges of the phone taper to edges that are barely 2mm thick, and the rest of the phone is 7.5mmm thick at its thickest point. Such incredible craftsmanship went into this phone that other manufacturers (particularly those who favour plastic) are going to struggle to better it, in my opinion.

The Nokia 8 Sirocco.

And on the inside, you’ll find excellent mobile hardware: the Snapdragon 835 mobile platform, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage (with a slot for an SD card in case you need more). LTE Cat 12 and AC WiFi connectivity means a super-fast connection to the internet, whether you’re tethered to a WiFi hotspot or out on the road.

Of all the phones Nokia launched today, the Sirocco attracted most of my attention. It’s not only nice to look at and hold, but it promises the kind of flagship performance that hardcore phone users are going to love. We were once again not told the prepaid price of the phone, but they did at least say it’ll cost R499pm on a 24-month contract on a post-paid basis.

While yes, the Sirocco captured my heart more than the other phones, all of them look pretty damn good, and this launch, for me, marks a welcome return to the Nokia quality and craftsmanship the company has been known for in the past.

BFF

HMD and Car Zeiss have also renewed their partnership – all of Nokia’s new phones but the Nokia 1 feature cameras with Zeiss optics. And since that partnership was behind the excellent photographic capabilities of Nokia’s older Lumia 1520, consumers can expect excellent results from the snappers on these phones. The Sirocco gets the very best Zeiss has to offer – dual rear cameras and a 2x optical zoom lens.

A word on security

One of Android Oreo’s key features is its robust security and its suitability to enterprise use. To that end, Google has rolled out something it calls “Android Enterprise Recommended”, a badge that can be applied to phones that qualify that alert prospective buyers to their suitability to the enterprise environment.

Three of these four new phones are Android Enterprise Recommended, and yes, the one that isn’t is the entry-level Nokia 1.

The badge will make it easy for enterprise IT people to narrow down the list of phones to investigate when looking for new phones for staff, and give them “…consistent deployment, management and user features that make it easier to deploy, scale and support Android”.

Availability

Three of these phones will hit the market in April, so expect to see them on offer from Vodacom, Cell C, and MTN soon (if they aren’t available already). The Nokia 8 Sirocco will go on sale on the 7th of May.

And for those of you interested in Telkom, apparently Nokia/HMD is still talking to Telkom about making the phones available via their outlets.

 

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.