Nokia-branded Android smartphones will arrive in the first half of next year

It’s been a rough decade or so for Nokia’s smartphone business. In 2011, then-CEO Stephen Elop famously described the company’s situation as a “burning platform” in a memo to his staff. That same year, the company plunged into the icy waters of a deal to make Windows Phone 7 its primary operating system.

The partnership didn’t do much to curb the company’s flagging sales, and three years later, it went ahead and sold its mobile division to Microsoft, which quickly went ahead and removed Nokia’s name from its smartphones.

Earlier this year, Microsoft sold off its remaining feature phone business, helping to create HMD Global, a Finnish company devoted to returning the once mighty Nokia name to the market – another strange twist in a saga that began a century and a half ago in the form of a paper pulping mill.

Today HMD took the wraps off its plans to add Nokia-branded Android smartphones to its existing feature phones in the first half of next year, part of a decade-long branding deal with Nokia.

Here’s HMD’s CEO on the announcement,

We see this as a brilliant opportunity to solve real life consumer problems and to deliver on the quality and designs that the Nokia brand has been always known for. Our talented and passionate team is uniquely placed in this modern setup to deliver our promise of reliable, beautifully crafted and fun Nokia phones for consumers across the globe.

The partnership doesn’t include direct funding from Nokia, though HMD does employ a number of key former Nokia/MS employees, like Arto Nummela, quoted above. All of whom are convinced that the return of the brand will energize consumers in an overcrowded smartphone market.

HMD certainly moved fast to make the most out of the deal – and squeeze what’s left of Nokia brand loyalty, announcing these plans roughly six months after its official launch.