New Nokia smartphone coincides poignantly with iPhone 10th birthday

HMD launched the Nokia 6 in China while Apple exhibited its customary modest understatement on junior’s big day.

Having tested the water a few weeks ago with a couple of burner phones HMD has finally taken the plunge into full-blown smartphones with the Nokia 6 (1-5 having presumably self-destructed or something). For some reason HMD has chosen the violently competitive Chinese market for this launch, despite Nokia smartphones having flopped there as soon as the iPhone caught on.

It’s an Android phone with a 5.5-inch screen and is Nokia in licensed brand only. HMD seems to think making the body really nice might be a key differentiator. “It takes 55 minutes to machine a single Nokia 6 from a solid block of 6000 series aluminium,” gasped the release. “It then receives two separate anodising processes, taking over ten hours to complete, with each phone being polished no less than five times. The end result is an aluminium unibody with the highest level of visual and structural quality.” And so it should.

“Our ambition is to deliver a premium product, which meets consumer needs at every price point, in every market,” said Arto Nummela, HMD CEO. “We start today, with our premium, high quality Nokia 6; built to deliver a fantastic core user experience for Chinese consumers. We look forward to unveiling further products in the first half of this year.”

The Nokia 6 is available exclusively through for just 1699 CNY (~$250). The price seems competitive and the novelty of the Nokia brand might help a bit, but it’s hard to see HMD/Nokia taking much share in a market where even strong local incumbents such as Xiaomi, Lenovo and ZTE are struggling.

Meanwhile the phone that catalysed the spectacular fall of Nokia as a handset brand – the iPhone – has just celebrated its 10th birthday. Apple, which couldn’t describe pouring a glass of water without resorting to breathless hyperbole, is celebrating the big day with an announcement entitled “iPhone at ten: the revolution continues”.

The late Steve Jobs, for whom the launch of the iPhone was the defining professional moment, described the new shiny thing at the time as “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.” While surprisingly understated and to-the-point, that description nicely summed up how much more than a phone the iPhone was.

Perhaps conscious of this rare lapse in marketing speak from his mentor, current Apple boss Tim Cook tried to redress the balance. “[The] iPhone is an essential part of our customers’ lives, and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live,” he marketed. “[The] iPhone set the standard for mobile computing in its first decade and we are just getting started. The best is yet to come.”

Of course the qualities Cook attributes to the iPhone can equally be applied to a thousand other devices today and that’s a problem for him and his declining iPhone shipments. Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller dutifully trotted out more of the same generic guff and the press release concluded with a bulleted list of iPhone 7 features and benefits. Yawn. Jobs would have done better than that, surely.

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