Nokia has announced a comeback with a brand new high spec, mid-priced smartphone in SA.

The brand, which once dominated the cellphone market, on Wednesday announced the launch of the Nokia 7 Plus in South Africa.

HMD Global licences the Nokia brand and, unlike Nokia’s ventures with Windows and other operating systems, the smartphone is powered by Google’s Android Oreo (version 8.1) operating system.

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This is sure to remove a market barrier to the device which follows on from the Nokia 5, 6 and 8 series devices, as most smartphones run on the Android system.

If size is what you prefer, the Nokia 7 Plus is a phablet with a 6 inch (15cm) high-definition display and narrow bezel giving an elegant design feel.

Good camera

It’s powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory on board.

Departing from the industry standard for premium devices, the Nokia also has a micro-SD card slot with support for 256GB of additional memory.

For that all-important selfie, there is a 16 megapixel (MP) camera, while the main camera is rated at 12MP with a low f/1.75 that should be good for low-light images.

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The smartphone is powered by a 3 800mAh battery that Nokia says should be good for two days of use.

Compared to the Huawei P20 Lite, the Nokia 7 Plus is slightly heavier at 183g, but the two phones are equivalently priced. The Nokia’s battery does have higher capacity, however. 

The Samsung Galaxy A6+ is also comparable to the 7 Plus, as it also features a fingerprint reader on the back, but retails for about R500 more.

The difficulty for Nokia is that market leader Samsung has a large footprint in SA with an extensive dealer network and support. Nokia’s forays into alternative operating systems may harm consumer adoption of this device.

Counting in the smartphone’s favour is the price of R5 999 on prepaid and R329 on a 24 month contract.

Smartphone market decline

Data from industry tracker the International Data Corporation shows that global smartphone shipments declined 2.9% in the first quarter of 2018.

The IDC data showed that Huawei which markets smartphones in both the mid and upper market segments was the fastest mover, gaining 1.8 percentage points, giving it third place behind Samsung and Apple.

"Despite new flagships from the likes of Samsung and Huawei, along with the first full quarter of iPhone X shipments, consumers looked unwilling to shell out big money for the latest and greatest devices on the market," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

HMD appears determined to drive its market share by having raised $100m from multiple investors, giving the company a $1bn valuation.

The company posted revenue of $2.13bn at the end of 2017.