Wednesday, 21 August 2019 13:14

VIDEO Interview: James Robinson of HMD Global Australia talks upgradeable tech as Nokia launches 2.2 model with removable battery


HMD Global is the home of Android-powered Nokias, and I spoke to A/NZ Country Manager James Robinson about consumers investing in upgradeable rather than disposable tech as Nokia launches its 2.2 model with removable battery.

HMD Global has done an excellent job of bringing the Nokia brand back to life, with phones across the price spectrum delivering great value for money, very regular OS and security updates, an essentially pure Android experience and more, catapulting Nokia back to the public consciousness once more.

Nokia has even brought the removable battery back to its just released new Nokia 2.2 model, and while the company does not seem to be promoting this capability in its marketing at all, its something that technology journalists have certainly noticed.

At the A$199 price point for the Nokia 2.2, with 5.71-inch display and "Xpress-On" covers, which is another blast from the past, the company is instead focusing on what it calls "sophisticated low light photography at an accessible price, complete with biometric face unlock, a dedicated Google Assistant and the latest Android experience that keeps getting better".

Indeed, the 2.2 is also "Android Q" ready, which is the 10th version of the Android OS that will soon roll out to the world once Google's beta testing is finished, and which will presumably happen sometime over the next few weeks.

As you'll see the video interview with HMD Global's A/NZ Country Manager James Robinson below, Nokia is very proud of the speed with which it makes OS updates available while also being proud of the ability of Nokia devices to "keep getting better" over time, which is thanks to those speedy updates - something some Android competitors are comparatively absolutely terrible at.

Now, I have plenty more one the Nokia 2.2 below, but I did want to delve further into this topic, because especially at the affordable price points that Nokia's phones are available at in 2019, it's something that Nokia naturally hopes will be a factor in deciding which phone you plan on buying next,

This is especially so when you consider ABS stats (Australian Bureau of Statistics) which show that "electronic waste is growing at three times the rate of general waste in Australia, with mobile phones one of the biggest culprits".

It should come as no surprise at this point to see Nokia asking whether it is "time for consumers to invest in tech that is upgradable rather than disposable?"

Because Nokia sees its technology as much more upgradeable than disposable, seeing as some Android smartphones don't seem to get many updates at all, Nokia believes it is changing the smartphone ownership paradigm with devices that "keep getting better" as we discussed before, meaning "consumers don’t need to fall into the cycle of continually upgrading devices for the latest tech, which positively impacts both the consumer and the environment."

Now, it is true that Apple's devices have historically been upgradeable for years longer than any Android, even those from Nokia, but if you're on the Android side of the fence, that's what you're interested in.

Nokia also sells Android models at prices vastly cheaper than Google's Pixel smartphones, although its more powerful models are available at similar prices, so the smartphone model and brand you buy depends on your taste and budget, but even at the lower end, Nokia is ensuring its devices can be OS and security update upgraded.

Indeed, as part of the Android One program, the company proudly boasts that "every Nokia smartphone is guaranteed to receive 3 years of monthly security updates and 2 years of OS upgrades, meaning that your phone experience is not only getting better over time, but becoming more secure".

The company also states its smartphones "offer the most secure Android experience and have received over 300 security updates in the last two years. They’re also twice as fast as their competitors at upgrading to the latest OS – over 80% of the Nokia smartphone portfolio is already running Android 9 Pie".

2019 has also seen an increase in cyber security threats and HMD Global states it is "committed to ensure safety and experience for their consumers. As an independent, European company, Nokia complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which means Nokia smartphones are held to the highest, global security standards".

Ok, so here's my video interview with James Robinson, Country Manager ANZ, HMD Global on how Nokia is changing the smartphone paradigm with upgradable tech. The article continues thereafter with more info on the Nokia 2.2, please read on!

Nokia released its new 2.2 model last week in Australia. It is billing this new model as delivering "sophisticated AI-powered low light imaging and the Google Assistant button at a truly astonishing price", with the Nokia 2.2 being "the first 2 series Nokia smartphone to be part of the Android One programme, offering users the latest full Android experience on a modern 5.71-inch screen with a discreet selfie-notch".

It ships with Android 9 Pie but, as noted above, is Android Q ready and "will receive two years of OS upgrades and three years of monthly security updates, ensuring access to all the latest innovations from Android".

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer, HMD Global, said: “We believe that the latest and greatest innovations in the industry should be available for everyone. With the Nokia 2.2, we’ve brought the pinnacle of AI experiences to more people than ever before.

"And including features like biometric face unlock with liveliness detection adding extra security to your phone, AI imaging, Google Lens and Google Assistant at the press of a button, we aim to revolutionise the way our fans interact with the phone.

"Nokia 2.2 joins our Android One family, and like all Nokia smartphones, offers an experience that stays fresh longer. With two years of OS updates and three years of monthly security updates guaranteed, Nokia 2.2 is Android Q ready and will just keep getting better.”

So, what is Nokia's pitch on the AI-powered low light imaging and other features?

We're told that "bringing sophisticated AI powered low light image fusion at this price point, Nokia 2.2 can take detailed photos even in trickier low light conditions. The camera snaps multiple images simultaneously and through advanced algorithms creates a single image with more light, greater detail and less noise.

"HDR photography captures vivid colours with greater dynamic range in every shot. Make your photos stand out with Google Photos’ AI-powered features – ‘Colour Pop’ draws attention to your subject, ‘Colourise’ enables monochrome pictures to be turned into full colour and ‘Beautify’ enhances natural features for the ultimate selfie."

In addition, we're told that "fans get access to the latest tech trends with ‘face unlock’ and Google Lens. Nokia 2.2 comes with a biometric face-unlock feature, enabling you to unlock your phone effortlessly. And unlike other handsets at this price point, the advanced AI driven face-unlock uses deep learning algorithms and liveliness detection for an accurate and distortion-free experience.

"Google Lens lets you search what you see so when you see a product you like, simply point the camera lens at it to find out how you can buy it or point the lens at an album artwork to discover new music to stream via music services such as Spotify.

"Nokia 2.2 also offers the latest trends in screen design, featuring an edge-to-edge display with a modern discreet selfie-notch, maximising screen surface while maintaining a pocketable size factor. The 5.71” HD+ display offers a large screen, while still ensuring the Nokia 2.2 is compact enough for single-handed use. The display, equipped with 400nits brightness, allows for a more vivid viewing experience. All this comes powered by the quad core MediaTek A22 CPU chipset, which is designed to deliver battery optimisation, so your phone charge lasts you up to an entire day."

Ok, so what about the personalisation experience with Nokia's famous Xpress-on covers?

Here we're told the Nokia 2.2 gives fans "the chance to express themselves, bringing back personalised smartphone style with exchangeable Nokia Xpress-on covers. The covers use the same nano-texture coating technology to offer you a premium glossy look in a range of vibrant colours.

"The Nokia Xpress-on covers can be easily interchanged in a matter of seconds and will be available in Pink Sand, Ice Blue and Forest Green".

In Australia, the Nokia 2.2 is available in Tungsten Black at The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi, with Big W also offering a bonus Ice Blue Nokia Xpress-on cover for launch. From the 3rd September, Nokia 2.2 will also be available on Telstra Prepaid for $149, complete with the Ice Blue Xpress-on cover in box.

Fast access to the Google Assistant with dedicated button

"Nokia 2.2 brings the best of Google Assistant with a dedicated Google Assistant button at our lowest price point yet. Ask it questions, get directions, make calls and tell it to do things faster than ever before. One press gives you instant access to your Google Assistant and a long press lets you do in-depth requests and multiple tasks.

Nokia phones keep getting better

"Nokia 2.2 is the first 2 series Nokia smartphone to be a part of the Android One family. With a proven track record of offering the latest Android and Google experience, Nokia 2.2 is also Android Q ready.

"Running Android 9 Pie out of the box, Nokia 2.2 offers access to new digital wellbeing tools including a dashboard, app timer, Wind Down mode and the improved Do Not Disturb. The smartphone helps you monitor device usage and turn off all visual interruptions letting you disconnect when you want to. Other features like Slices and App Actions anticipate your next move, delivering app integration and shortcuts that help you accomplish your next task faster and easier than ever before. Furthermore, Adaptive Battery limits battery usage from apps you don’t use often.

"The Nokia 2.2 joins the comprehensive line-up of Nokia smartphones in the Android One family, which means it delivers the latest version of Android innovations and software experiences. Nokia smartphones with Android One offer great storage and battery life right out of the box and come with three years of monthly security updates and two OS upgrades guaranteed. As with all Nokia smartphones, Nokia 2.2 has no additional bloatware, skins or UI changes and hidden processes eating up your battery life or filling your storage."

Here's the official Nokia 2.2 promo video:

Here's Nokia's video on how to update your Nokia smartphone:

Nokia has more videos at its official YouTube channel, here are a few more that other smartphone makers should also offer!

How to chat with Nokia support:

How to reboot your Nokia:

How to use the hotspot feature on your Nokia phone:

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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