HMD’s first new Nokia handset is a $26 feature phone

Just last week, HMD was priming the press for the return of Nokia-branded handsets, slated to arrive at some point in the first half of next year. The young Finnish company, founded by a number of Nokia expats, seasoned the pre-announcement announcement with all sorts of superlatives, with the CEO tossing out words like “brilliant,” “passionate,” “beautifu[l]” and “reliable.”

At this point, it’s way too early to know how the whole thing will shake out. While the newly formed company does count former Nokia employees among its headcount, it’s easy to see how the whole endeavor might amount to little more than just the leveraging of a brand name that still means a lot to consumers in many parts of the world.

Meantime, HMD unveiled two new handsets today that are simultaneously disappointing to consumers who have been waiting for the brand’s return to smartphone glory, while in keeping with a key part of Nokia’s legacy. After all, feature phones have long been a cornerstone of the company’s business model, even in those final years as it flirted with Windows Phone, before allowing that division to be swallowed up by Microsoft entirely.

The first two offerings from the startup are the Nokia 150 and Nokia 150 Dual SIM — the difference, well, it’s right there in the name. The feature phones sport a 2.4-inch display, a full numeric keypad and a battery life of up to 22 hours, by the company’s count. Branding aside, the most interesting bit is the price, which starts at $26, making the handset potentially appeal to users in the developing world, which has long been a target market for the Nokia brand.

The handsets will go on sale early next year in select markets, including Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East and Africa.