South African consumers are ready for a resurgent Nokia brand, the official licence holder believes.
According to HMD Global, Nokia smartphones which are now powered by Android are being welcomed into the market.
"HMD Global has received fantastic consumer response to Nokia Android smartphones in 2017 and gained good traction across the world - with many markets showing HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, in (the) top three to five mobile players," Justin Maier, vice-president of HMD Global Sub-Sahara Africa, told Fin24.
The company recently launched the Nokia 7 Plus, priced to compete directly with brands like Huawei (P20 Lite) and Samsung (Galaxy A6+) in SA.
The 7 Plus is a follow-on from a range of Android-powered Nokia devices including the 5, 6 and 8 Sirocco.
HMD is pleased with the consumer adoption of Nokia smartphones.
"Based on the previous year's success, we are extending that proposition further and expanding our smartphone portfolio for 2018," said Maier.
But the smartphone business is about scale, and smaller brands usually find it difficult to gain traction in a market that declined 2.9% in the first quarter of 2018, according to industry tracker the International Data Corporation.
That follows a marginal decline of 0.5% for 2017 - the first year-on-year decline for smartphones.
"We've been humbled by the level of support and love from the fans across the world. During MWC '18 [Mobile World Congress trade fair] Florian Seiche - CEO of HMD Global - confirmed that we shipped 70 million phones in 2017 globally. We don't break our sales down by region or market," said Maier.
Comparatively, that represents a small fraction of the total of 1.465 billion smartphones shipped in 2017 and is about equivalent to the number of handsets Samsung ships per quarter.
As the de facto Android standard bearer, Samsung's lowest quarterly shipment number since 2014 was 73 million in the third quarter of 2015.
But the Nokia 7 Plus is well-specced for the money, featuring an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of memory on board.
There is also a 16 megapixel (MP) selfie camera, while the main camera is rated at 12MP with a low f/1.75 that should be good for low-light images.
"We believe that everyone deserves access to the premium quality and attention to detail that is usually reserved only for flagship devices. With our new range of Nokia smartphones, we aim to democratise technology and bring this experience to everyone," said Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global.
Founded in 2016, HMD Global is based in Finland and recently raised $100m to fund its plans to aggressively expand its portfolio of Nokia smartphones.
The company's revenue for 2017 was €1.8bn, resulting in an operational loss of €65m.
Worldwide Smartphone Platform Shipments, Market Share, and 5-Year CAGR, 2018 and 2022 (shipments in millions)
2018 Shipment Volume*
2018 Market Share*
2018 Year-over-Year Growth*
2022 Shipment Volume*
2022 Market Share*
2022 Year-over-Year Growth*
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, May 30, 2018, forecast projections