Nokia brand licensee HMD Global launched several smartphones and feature phones in India in 2021. While the Finnish company continued delivering a pure software experience, it has launched models such as the Nokia C20 Plus, Nokia 110 4G, and the new Nokia XR20 intended to attract young consumers. The company also carries Nokia-branded accessories, including true wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds to complement its smartphones. The growing presence of Nokia phones and accessories aims to bring the old brand back to the Indian market. But did it work towards the goal?

On this week’s episode of Gadget’s 360 podcast Orbital, host Akhil Arora and Senior Reviewer Aditya Shenoy talk with HMD Global Vice President for India, the Middle East, and North Africa (MENA) Sanmeet Singh Kochhar to review the company’s performance. Understand and learn what it’s like trying to prevail against the fierce competition from Chinese players, including Realme and Xiaomi.

Nokia Phones

Kochhar talks about the Nokia C, Nokia G, and Nokia X series that HMD Global has released as a replacement for its previous numerical range of smartphones. While the Nokia C-series is aimed at new smartphone users, the Nokia G-series has unique features such as a two to three days battery life and the promise of software updates. The Nokia X series, on the other hand, is designed to push the boundaries and support technologies such as 5G connectivity, says the director.

He also points out that HMD Global deducts the Rs. 10,000-16,000 bracket as an important market segment. In that segment, it already has models, including Nokia 3.4, Nokia 5.4, Nokia G10, Nokia G20, and Nokia C30.

However, instead of planning to bring a huge range of phones quite aggressively – something we’ve seen so far with Realme, Oppo, and Xiaomi – HMD Global wants to focus on software and hardware and its unique selling points (USPs).

“We have a very different view on this, we believe, while hardware innovations are important and will continue to do so. But at the same time, software, security, privacy, all these aspects play a very, very important role,” Kochhar said.

The director also notes that, in addition to smartphones, HMD Global has a strong foundation in India’s 2G feature phone market.

Last year, the company introduced the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic (2020) as a feature phone aimed at music lovers and those watching digital detox. Kochhar says thousands of Nokia 5310 XpressMusic (2020) units have been sold online.

To bring a distinctive experience to the market, HMD Global recently launched the Nokia XR20 as a rugged phone. Kochhar encourages podcast listeners to experience the phone’s ruggedness by dropping it in real life.

“We have demo phones [Nokia XR20] in selected stores. I would encourage you to go there… hold that device in your hand and try to drop it on the floor,” he says.

HMD Global plans to launch the Nokia T20 tablet in India in the coming days. The tablet debuted worldwide just earlier this month. Kochhar tells us that the launch will take place “around the Diwali time frame”.

HMD Global has been producing its phones for quite some time now. Kochhar says that the Nokia C3, Nokia C01 Plus, and Nokia C20 Plus were the phones that were not only manufactured locally in the country but were also designed specifically for the Indian market. He adds that the company plans to export its locally-made phones to other markets.

We also talk about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HMD Global and the smartphone market as a whole. In addition, the discussion revolves around how the company is working to maintain consumer trust and value in the Nokia brand. You can watch all this and listen to our full conversation with Kochhar by hitting the play button on the embedded player above.

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