Is Nokia threatened by Nothing in Europe?

The other day I was browsing the vastness of the Internet and stumbled across an article from the local Croatian press. Actually, for some reason Google thought I’d like to read Croatian tech newspapers, which I have been avoiding for years, since most of the articles are obviously sponsored and the editors do not even hide it. Anyway, the article is about strong European smartphone brands and whether Europe can have its own brand in a time when Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi top the sales charts.

The headline made me curious, because somehow I expected an analytical approach to the current European brands, and of course, I wanted to see what local journalists write about Nokia phones. To my surprise, Nokia was not even mentioned as a current smartphone brand, but rather as a remnant of a once great name in the cell phone industry

So the brands mentioned are Fairphone and Nothing. While Fairphone is a nice idea that some of my friends who live in Germany like and even use, Nothing is a bit weird as a European. Well, Nothing’s HQ is based in London, which is geographically in Europe, but the rest of the brand is pretty international. Some might say that today’s Nokia phones are not as European as they used to be, but there’s a big difference. Nokia as a brand has been around for a long time and is still run by Nokia itself, while the smartphone business has been built up by ex-Nokias and foreign investors.

Nothing was founded in 2020 by Chinese-born Swedish entrepreneur Carl Pei, also known as the co-founder of Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus. Investment has come from Google Ventures, the co-founder of Reddit and Twitch, and even Youtuber Casey Neistat.  The interesting bit is the investment of EQT Ventures in 2022, and the interesting part is that the same group invested in Nokia’s Vertu brand of luxurious phones back in 2012.

Nothing had a slow start and started building up its fan base by launching earbuds. Nothing phone came a year later and brought different notification lights to the market. However, the main idea behind the brand is quite similar to the idea of Nokia Mobile and that is why Nothing might be a serious competition to Nokia.

They are presenting themselves as a “London-based tech company on a mission to remove barriers between people and technology”. This does sound a bit familiar, right? Another thing familiar is the announcement of midrange products that are not the best but not so bad. Nothing phone is nothing special, but when you are 30 years old, you don’t need the top hardware specs. You just need a functioning product that performs well and offers good results. Nothing buds are generating a good audio output and Nothing phone is probably working well with its Snapdragon 778G+ 5G (6 nm), 50 MP camera, and an OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. Well, there were some issues with the camera output and Nothing said it is working on software updates that will further perfect its first phone.

However, if you compare Nothing 1 and Nokia X30, you can clearly see that Nokia Mobile is competing rather well both with price and specs, and you get better service support along the way. However, with wireless charging, a bit faster memory, and a more dynamic industrial design, Nokia X30, although a classy phone, looks dull next to Nothing 1.

Now, I could argue that X30 isn’t in the same class range as Nothing 1, but it is the current best Nokia Mobile has to offer to European customers that are looking for a midranger whose brand doesn’t originate from the far east.

The mistake a Croatian journalist made in the article from the beginning of the story was not bringing Nokia to the game, but is he to blame? Nokia X30 and G60 are a change in the direction we expected, but these phones sacrificed the unique look of the phone which is something Nokia was cherishing next to durability and connectivity. Nevertheless, Nokia is a European brand next to Fairphone, and Nothing if you like, and every possible competition is welcomed as long as it is healthy. There is a place for everyone and Nokia will find a way to resist and keep improving its products. Maybe a thing or two can be learned from Nothing although that brand is suggesting otherwise :). One would be to focus on less products, but hey, I’m not an educated expert, but just a guy who has been following tech for years and saw the repeated mistakes…