The new Nokia X20 smartphone from HMD Global.

Ryan Browne | CNBC

LONDON – The company behind the Nokia Mobile brand updated its smartphone lineup with a number of new budget models on Thursday as it struggles to compete with established players like Samsung and Apple.

Finnish start-up HMD Global holds the license to design and sell Nokia cell phones since it bought the cellular division of the telecommunications group from Microsoft in 2016. Since then, the company has released several smartphones and “dumb phones” – including redesigned versions of nostalgic devices like the 8110 “banana phone” and the 2720 flip phone.

On Thursday, the company announced six new smartphones. They are divided into three different series: X, which is at the top of the range in terms of pricing and specifications; G, which is slightly cheaper than X; and C, that’s the cheapest of them all. Prices start at 75 euros for the Nokia C10, while the Nokia X20 is the standout device of all six and is available in retail for 349 euros.

With the X20, you get a 6.67-inch screen, four rear cameras with a 64-megapixel main lens, and the ability to connect to super-fast 5G internet. The X20 and the cheaper X10 with a price of 309 euros are both operated with the Snapdragon 480 5G chipset from Qualcomm, run on Google’s Android operating system and offer three years of security updates and a three-year warranty – one year more than that of the G- and C series.

The X20 also has a “dual-sight” function that allows you to use two of the phone’s cameras at the same time to capture different angles from a recording.

Use the Nokia X20 dual sight camera feature.

Ryan Browne | CNBC

For reasons of sustainability, no charger is included in the packaging. Instead, a fully compostable case is included. The phone will ship next month in Europe, with availability to be announced in the US.

Tough competition

Nokia is struggling to play a significant role in the smartphone market due to strong competition from Apple, Samsung and Chinese players like Huawei and Xiaomi. This is a problem that preoccupies persistent manufacturers like Sony and LG. The latter, once a top Android brand, said earlier this week it was leaving the smartphone market.

“I think it will continue to be very difficult for (Nokia) to compete in the highest portfolios on the market, so they are now targeting lower price ranges,” said Francisco Jeronimo, vice president of European devices at IDC said CNBC.

“On the other hand, they have worked very hard to break into the B2B (business-to-business) market. This is a very good opportunity for them as there are not many players who offer an attractive portfolio.”

According to IDC data, Nokia branded smartphones made up only 0.6% of the market last year and shipped fewer phones than LG and China’s Honor. However, HMD has done well and done well in feature phones – also known as “dumb phones” achieved a market share of 16% in 2020.

HMD hopes to focus on business sales and new services to find other sources of income. The company, which is financially backed by Nokia, Google and other major investors, launched a SIM card with global data roaming called HMD Connect last year. After prioritizing online sales in the coronavirus pandemic, he managed to break even.

HMD is also launching a new cellular network in the UK called HMD Mobile. It operates as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which means it relies on another telecommunications company’s network infrastructure. Bundles start at £ 6.50 ($ 9) per month. It won’t start immediately with 5G, but the company said they are working on making the service “5G Ready”.