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Nokia 6, your mission is to get the US to care about Nokia

It'll be a lonely foothold for the midrange phone, as the once mighty brand focuses its attentions elsewhere -- for now.


The Nokia 6: arriving stateside in May.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

HMD Global, the startup behind the latest incarnation of Nokia phones, is coming to America after all.

The Nokia 6, which made its debut at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona on Sunday, will hit the US market in May. It won't be available through any carriers, but instead will be available to buy outright through retail partners, said Juho Sarvikas, HMD's chief product officer, in an interview with CNET. He declined to give details on which partners or on the US pricing. The phone will cost around £200 in the UK, converting to about $280.

"The trend is that the open market is growing," said Sarvikas, explaining the company's decision not to partner with any carriers for the phone's launch.

The confirmation of the Nokia 6's arrival in the US is a 180-degree turn from what HMD CEO Florian Seiche earlier told CNET. Seiche had said Monday that the Nokia phones unveiled at MWC wouldn't be coming to the US. "It's not a core focus for this year, but certainly it is on our road map," he said.

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Nokia is the latest handset maker to test the US waters by selling a phone directly to consumers, circumventing the normal method of partnering with a large carrier for promotional and retail distribution support. But aside from a few exceptions like OnePlus, companies have struggled to get consumers to notice. The vast majority of people still get their phones through a carrier. Nokia, however, has the advantage of name recognition -- even if the brand's relevancy in the US has largely evaporated. 

It's still a brand that many around the world have fond memories of, helping to give it an extra boost at trade shows like MWC 2018. The Nokia 6 is one of five phones the company unveiled at the Barcelona show on Sunday. It sits squarely in the midrange device bracket and serves as an updated version of last year's Nokia 6 (that's right -- same name, different phone), but with several new color options available.

"If you look at this US open market, this midtier is where you have a lot of people purchasing their device," said Sarvikas. The Nokia 6 is a very good proposition for this market, he added.

Some Nokia fans in the US might be frustrated that they can't get their hands on a flagship Nokia 8 Sirocco or the rebooted 8110 banana phone. But it's not HMD Global's intention to neglect the US market.

"We have a more focused plan for the US and we have long-term ambition as well -- it's a key market globally," said Sarvikas. "We'll have more news to share later on this year."

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