HMD Global starts manufacturing in Europe with the ‘Made in Hungary’ Nokia XR21 5G phone


Nokia XR21
Image Credits: HMD Global

HMD Global, the phone maker and marketer behind the Nokia mobile phone brand, has launched its very first smartphone manufactured in Europe.

The news comes some six months after the Finnish company first revealed it was transitioning some of its manufacturing to Europe to meet a growing demand from enterprises for locally produced hardware to address security and sustainability concerns. HMD Global hadn’t revealed where, exactly, it was manufacturing in Europe, with the company telling TechCrunch in February that it was keeping the facility under wraps due to security concerns.

“Unfortunately, due to our customers being in various security-conscious industries, we’re not allowed to tell anyone which countries we are producing these devices in, simply to keep it as secure as possible,” HMD Global chief marketing officer Lars Silberbauer said at the time.

However, the company has now seemingly had second thoughts on that, and it has confirmed at least one of its manufacturing locations is in Hungary. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that it still can’t reveal where exactly in Hungary the manufacturing facility is, though they did note that they will be adding further manufacturing and assembly capacity to additional locales in Europe.

The first device off the line is the 5G Nokia XR21, which is available for enterprises to buy today. This is pretty much the same as the XR21 that launched earlier this year, except the new variant has been assembled in Europe and HMD Global can offer enterprise customers a “higher level of security assurance through customized software and security features,” a spokesperson said, adding that they are working with a number of additional IT security partners.

Additionally, the company is making 30 limited edition versions of these devices available to the general public through the online Nokia store for consumers in the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Finland, with a sticker price of €699 (£599). It also plans to launch a standard (i.e., non–limited edition) of the European XR21 smartphone for consumers, which will be available in black.

Nokia XR21
Nokia XR21 Image Credits: HMD Global

By way of a brief recap, HMD Global emerged from the ashes of Microsoft’s ill-conceived Nokia devices acquisition a decade ago, a move that spawned a $7 billion “goodwill” writedown following Satya Nadella’s promotion to the CEO hot seat. Microsoft eventually shed the entire Nokia business, with the newly established HMD Global taking on the Nokia brand in 2016.

In the intervening years, HMD Global has largely focused on feature phones and budget smartphones, but the brand value of Nokia has helped the Helsinki company raise $330 million in funding from the likes of Google, Qualcomm, and Nokia itself. But just last month, HMD Global confirmed plans to bring its own-brand devices to market, too, which will sit alongside its Nokia-branded handsets — though it hasn’t revealed any specifics around these plans. 


Nokia XR21
Nokia XR21 manufacturing facility in Hungary Image Credits: HMD Global

From a feature perspective, not much has changed in the new European device beyond what was already in the existing XR21, but it seems that durability and sustainability is the name of the game in terms of its target market. The company touts the XR21’s “military-grade durability” replete with an IP69K rating, meaning that it is designed for industrial use cases where there may be high risk of dust, heat, moisture, and impact, while it also says the device is made from 100% recycled aluminum.

It’s worth noting that the materials themselves will still have to come from elsewhere in the world, most notably China, where the various metals and components will still originate before shipping to HMD Global’s manufacturing and testing facility in Europe for assembly, calibration, and testing.

Indeed, one of the main reasons HMD Global is bringing manufacturing closer to home is the security requirements from enterprises that it’s courting. The company transitioned its data centers to Europe back in 2019 for this very same reason, and part of this will also involve designing and testing the phone locally from the get-go. The company says:

Every device undergoes rigorous software and malware testing in Europe, with some Enterprise customers requesting additional security in conjunction with a number of IT security partners.

Today’s news doesn’t signal the start of a giant “lift and shift” from its existing manufacturing capacity in China and India to Europe — it wouldn’t make a whole heap of sense to build all its phones in Europe only to ship them back to Asia, which is still a significant market for the company. HMD Global has been clear that this is all about catering to a very specific demand from a very specific set of customers where sovereignty and localization are paramount.

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

13 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

15 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android