All through Android’s early years, old guard smartphone enthusiasts like myself secretly dreamed of a Nokia-powered Android phone. And in 2017 that dream came true; HMD Global resurrected the brand and gave the world a range of devices running pure Android. The best part is that I can even buy one of them right now from Amazon. Amazon Canada. On Prime.
So why haven’t I? For the simple reason that the new Nokia does not appear to be in the business of selling modding-friendly hardware.
In a September 29th tweet an HMD exec seemed open to the idea of shipping a phone with an unlockable bootloader; more than four months later this basic requirement for flashing a custom recovery and gaining root access is still nowhere in sight for any North American Nokia device. HMD has also failed to release any kernel sources for their Android builds—which aids in the development of custom ROMs, but more importantly is a legal obligation under the GPL v2.
The company did a brisk business in 2017, in Asia and Europe at least. Tomi Ahonen estimates year-end handset sales to be around 8.5 million units, or 1% of the global smartphone market. But to win the hearts and minds of the XDA crowd—and for basic compliance with Android’s open source license—HMD clearly needs to do better.