Nokia is making its way back, initially announcing that it's going to be embracing Android and producing a number of smartphones and tablets over the coming years in May, leaving us to consider what might be coming from Nokia in the future.

Nokia's story has more twists and turns than a mountain pass, with an equal number of ups and downs. The announcement that we'll be seeing Nokia branded phones once again is certainly exciting, so we'll be keeping our ear to the ground and reporting on all the different strands of this story.

So with that in mind, what's the story on Nokia's return to consumer smartphones and what do we want to see?

Pocket-lintLumia 930-4135

First up, there's rumours that Nokia is working on two (or more) handsets and these handsets are said to be in the prototyping stage.

Currently there's no word on what they might be called, so it's difficult to talk about them as there are no codenames to work from, which is where we often start with rumour stories. 

In terms of design, it's said that the Nokia Android phones will offer a premium metal design. Nokia isn't especially well known for metal design - unlike someone like HTC. That said, the last Nokia-branded Android device we saw was the Nokia N1. The Nokia N1 was a Foxconn-built tablet, and it's a Foxconn subsidiary that Nokia has partnered with for the return of its devices.

In terms of details, apart from metal, there's been talk of water and dust protection.

However, when Nokia started churning out Lumia handsets, there was one thing that made them stand apart: colour. No one else was making devices in colours other than black or silver, perhaps gold, or a special edition pink. Meanwhile Nokia was giving us neons with punch and verve. We're certainly hoping that we see these things again.

But alongside those colours, Nokia has produced some phones that feel great and look great, without going all-out metal, like many of current flagships. On the design side, we'd certainly expect a feel that takes us back to some of the Nokia greats of the past, and even some of those more interesting Lumia devices before Microsoft Devices took over.


Currently there's no word on what to expect from the cameras on forthcoming-Nokia devices - except passing mention of a 22.6-megapixel camera.

Nokia's Symbian swansong before this whole Microsoft thing was the 808 PureView. In some ways this was demonstrative of everything that was going wrong at Nokia, presenting a slightly under-specced phone that was too expensive, sitting on an operating system that lacked the consumer ease of the iPhone and the maturing Android (we're talking 2012, remember the burning platform?)

But it gave us the 41-megapixel PureView camera and that trumped everything else around at the time. PureView, with Zeiss lenses continues into the Lumia line and the next big hit was the Lumia 1020, again punching hard with the camera in 2013. 

The smartphone camera game has changed in the last few years, but there's still a lot to play for. Camera performance still gets top billing from all manufacturers - Apple gives its iPhone launch over to camera demos, Samsung does the same - so there's everything to play for.

So this is where we have high hopes for future Nokia Androids: we want to see a class-leading PureView camera on an Android handset.

Currently the spec cupboard is rather bare, but it's reported that there will be a 5.2-inch handset and a 5.5-inch handset. This information can't be verified, so we'll have to take it with a pinch of salt. 

It's thought that these will be Quad HD OLED displays, which is par for the course for a flagship handset. Whether that comes to pass, of course, we just don't know.

Aside from that there's no word on what to expect in terms of chipsets, but we'd be expecting Snapdragon 820 or 810. We would hope for all the convenience features like USB Type-C, microSD card support and hardware powerful enough to take advantage of some of Nokia's other interests, like VR. With Google's new Daydream VR platform due to launch later in 2016, we hope that Nokia will be jumping on board.

Despite jumping off the Symbian train and falling into the Windows Phone quagmire, one of the details that Nokia has publicly confirmed is that it's working on Android devices. The Nokia N1 tablet was also Android, but otherwise Nokia isn't really known for its Android devices.

However, that didn't stop BlackBerry making the jump off its own sinking platform. BlackBerry managed to introduce plenty of lovely Android features on the Priv, proving that you don't need to have a long history with a software platform to be able to innovate with it.

Nokia did release a launcher for Android called Z Launcher. This launcher would let you scribble to find apps to save you digging into the apps tray to get what you want. It's likely that we'll see a full range of Nokia innovations when its Android phones surface.

Nokia hasn't officially confirmed when Android devices might be hitting the market, but it's reported that the target is for the end of Q4 2016. That would fall into the latter stages of the year and avoid clashes with most of the other device launches which - with the exception of the iPhone - are mostly done for 2016.

The above timeline is credited to a Nokia exec talking to the media in China. If that is a realistic timeframe, there's also no guarantee that we're looking at an international release at that time.

For Nokia to make a big bang, the most obvious time to do so would be at Mobile World Congress 2017, in February. 

The Nokia and Microsoft smartphone dalliance we'll put down to a nasty affair. With Nokia realising that it was falling behind, it embraced Windows Phone with the Lumia line.

Soon the Lumia line was pretty much all there was to Windows Phone and Microsoft took over. The Nokia name was dropped, Microsoft Devices ruled the roost and several Microsoft Lumia devices followed.

That hasn't really worked out so well, so Microsoft has sold off some of the Nokia business it acquired, a new company has been formed called HMD (staffed by ex-Nokia and ex-Microsoft people), Nokia has granted a brand license to this company to make smartphones and tablets, and that's how this messy break-up will play out. 

Nokia has said, however, that it's going to be keeping a close eye on things to make sure that everything carrying the Nokia name meets the standards you expect, which is an important point.