HMD’s reborn Nokia phones will soon be sold directly through carriers in North America. Today, the company announced partnerships with Verizon and Cricket Wireless in the US along with Rogers in Canada to start directly offering Nokia phones.
The first wave is pretty small: Verizon and Rodgers will get their own carrier-exclusive versions of the Nokia 2.1 (the Verizon model will be rebranded as the Nokia 2 V), while Cricket will get the Nokia 3.1 Plus.
None of these phones are flagships, really. Verizon’s Nokia 2 V is a reheated 2018 model that runs Android 8.1 Go with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor and 1GB of RAM, although the 4,000mAh battery is on par with the massive Galaxy Note 9 for sheer size. Pricing has yet to be announced, but it’ll go on sale in Verizon stores and online on January 31st.
Cricket’s Nokia 3.1 Plus is a little better. It runs Android 9 Pie with a Snapdragon 439 and 2GB of RAM, along with a larger 5.99-inch display (but a smaller 3,500mAh battery). It’ll be available starting today for $159.99 from Cricket. Lastly, there’s Rogers’ Nokia 2.1 variant, which should be coming later in Q1 2019, and it should also resemble the Verizon and regular versions in terms of specs.
More importantly, HMD is laying the groundwork for the future here. By starting to break into the North American market with budget phones that are sold through carriers, HMD can continue to build its new-wave Nokia reputation among users that may not be as familiar with it. That brand recognition can then be leveraged in the future to expand to more interesting and flashy phones that offer more powerful specs, both through carriers and on the open market.
So even though the first phones HMD is bringing to North American carriers aren’t the most exciting, it’s the foundation for the future that could have a real impact on today’s news.