HMD Global has signed a patent licensing deal with Qualcomm to allow HMD to develop and sell smartphones that use Qualcomm’s 3G and 4G single-mode and new 5G multimode chips.
Qualcomm has granted HMD royalty-bearing patent licenses for developing phones using Qualcomm modem chips under the Nokia brand.
Nokia bowed out of the smartphone business in 2014, when it sold its handset arm to Microsoft. HMD, which was formed by former Nokia executives in 2016, acquired the feature phone business from Microsoft that year, and struck a deal with Nokia Oyj to use the Nokia branding. Under that agreement, HMD pays royalties to Nokia for the brand, but Nokia Oyj does not participate in the phone business.
HMD has focused on offering low-cost phones globally. The company has released 16 Nokia phones globally, including Android smartphones and feature phones, some of which are remakes of popular Nokia devices from the 1990s. In 2017, it released the Nokia 6.1, its first Nokia-branded smartphone and its best-selling model. The Nokia 6 retails for $270.
Over the past two years, HMD’s Nokia brand has become the biggest-selling brand in low-cost feature phones, according to data from Counterpoint Research, and ranks 13th among smartphone brands. The phones are sold at over 250,000 retail outlets around the world across 80 countries. In North America, the phones are supported by carriers Verizon and Cricket in the U.S., and Rogers Communications in Canada.
In 2018, HMD revealed it had sold 70 million phones since relaunching the brand. That same year, the company raised $100 million to boost its phone business, as part of its wider strategy to expand and improve its line of handsets.
“We are driven by our unique promise of delivering phones that get better over time,” said HMD CEO Florian Seiche in a statement. “Our collaboration with Qualcomm enables us to bring leading innovations to the market and deliver on our unique consumer promise.”
Its latest phone model, the Nokia 9 Pureview, features five cameras, Android 9 Pie, HDR and Q1 wireless charging. It retails for $700.