It is 2023 now, and it is safe to say that HMD Global is on the right track to release better Nokia devices and we will be hearing about them soon. But the start of the journey for HMD Global was not as smooth as it seems on the surface. There were a couple of devices that were cancelled, launches delayed and some abandoned midway.

The Nokia 8.1 is one of the better midrange devices made by HMD Global. In fact, it was one of my recommended devices as it was reliable, other than the issues with the charging port that was acknowledged by Nokia Care and was fixed through the extended warranty program. But we never got to see its actual successor. The subsequent 8 series that was launched was the Nokia 8.3, which was ill fated from the start and, unfortunately is still plagued with issues despite numerus software updates.

So, was there actually a device that was meant to fill in the gap between both these devices?

The Nokia X71

In terms of design, there were significant changes in the design language of Nokia devices which started with the Nokia 6. The next change in the design came in during the era of Nokia 6.2/Nokia 7.2 and currently we are in the third phase of the design which was introduced by the Nokia G21.

The Nokia X71 shares the same design language of the Nokia 8.1 on its rear with a vertical camera island on its center top while the front display is similar to that of Nokia 8.3 5G. In fact, the front display of the Nokia X71 is unique as it sports a very narrow bezel with the lack of the typical chin with NOKIA branding at the bottom. The 6.39in IPS display boast an impressive 83.9% screen to body ratio.

On the computing side, the Nokia X71 is powered by the reliable SD660 and comes in 2 configuration, 6GB RAM/64GB storage and 6GB RAM/ 128 GB storage which is expandable. The SD660 is a time-tested platform, yielding a balanced performance and battery life, albeit being an older architecture. This might seem like a downgrade compared to the SD710 used on the Nokia 8.1, but in reality, the SD710 might be culprit to the inconsistent rapid charging issues that plagued the Nokia 8.1.

On the imaging side, the Nokia X71 was a big upgrade compared to the Nokia 8.1, featuring the first 48MP sensor on a Nokia device at that time, coupled with 8MP ultrawide and a 5MP depth camera ton its rear, capable of shooting 4K videos at 30FPS. The front camera is a more modest 16MP sensor capable of shooting in 1080p at 30FPS.

Why was it cancelled?

With a capable setup and a beautifully crafted design, why was it actually cancelled? In fact, this seems to be the only device in their portfolio that did not have a global release.

Retrospectively, the Nokia X71 was probably cancelled as it might have been too late to the market. While the edge-to-edge display was something to be excited about, the Nokia X71 shares a very similar setup to the Nokia 7.2 which was released months later globally, introducing a new design language and more vibrant color option that would have made the Nokia X71 global release redundant. But there could be more to this as we do have many Nokia devices sharing very similar hardware with different naming conventions and slightly tweaked design or setup to justify its existence.

Final Thoughts

Personally, there are many “wow” factors on the Nokia X71 that would have given it a decent sale the least in the global front. A narrow bezzle display, a triple camera setup with a 48MP primary sensor and 8MP ultrawide camera is enough to sway in many buyers at that time.

Catch my review on the Nokia X71 with some camera samples here :

Having said that, moving into 2023, HMD Global should thread in carefully to solidify their presence in the mobile world.  The new G60 5G and X30 5G are two of their best devices currently with improved software and hardware offerings but is affected by limited availability, and steeper price. To appeal to the global audience, HMD Global should focus on introducing devices to key markets as soon as it is announced with a wider coverage following soon. Pricing is crucial to many markets, not because Nokia phones are expensive, but because the competitors are offering more for less. Gone are the days where one could boast on build quality, software reliability and even imaging superiority to justify the pricing. These days, the markets are flooded with capable device from reputable companies, offering good hardware and software with timely updates and continued improvements on the software sides to appeal new buyers.

My hope for 2023 is for Nokia to get more positive attention on the global front, to see a capable high end mid ranger the least, if not a flagship grade device, and to have a sensible approach to pricing and availability.

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