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'Awesome' Nokia phone or home device launching Feb. 25

A tweet teases something "awesome", but it's the official invite that lays on the hints.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It's been almost a year since we saw the first Nokia phones running on Android. Now we're being promised another "awesome" announcement next month.

A tweet on Thursday from the chief product officer at HMD Global -- the company that licenses the right to make Nokia-branded phones -- teased a phone launch for Mobile World Congress, called MWC for short. The world's largest global phone conference takes place Feb. 26 to March 1, with announcements beginning as early as Feb. 25.

However, an official invitation to the "Home of Nokia phones" at MWC also hints at a connected home product. The invitation to a Feb. 25 event depicts a couple sitting on the floor inside an apartment or house, with sketches of a side table, overhead lamp, framed wall photo and window around them. 

The invitation capitalizes the word "Home," emphasizing the concept, and also asks invited guests to register for a "house key" to get in to the event. Although the invitation also calls HMD "the Home of Nokia phones," there is no phone in sight.

nokiahome

HMD Global

We suspected HMD would launch Nokia phones at MWC, but this connected home tease could show the brand branching out beyond handsets alone and entering the crowded-but-developing smart-home space.

Making Nokia phones that run on Android is part of a comeback play for HMD Global. Nokia phones were once a top global brand, before iOS and Android surged in popularity while Nokia's proprietary mobile software declined. 

After Microsoft bought and then sold the rights to make Nokia-branded phones using Windows software, HMD Global picked up the license. HMD Global operates independently from Nokia Corporation, but their phones do appear on the Nokia website.

When HMD first launched with an Android-based Nokia phone, the world hoped for a stellar high-end device. Instead, HMD Global released a bevy of entry-level and midrange devices in the Nokia 2356 and 7. By the time the far more premium Nokia 8 emerged late in 2017, the hardware couldn't keep up with today's best phones

Now Juho Sarvikas, the HMD Global exec, hints at a premium device of some sort, one that will hopefully be able to grab attention alongside the next products that Samsung launches at the same show, including the phone widely expected to be called the Galaxy S9

HMD Global's Sarvikas didn't explicitly reveal what the company has in store for MWC -- HMD Global did not immediately respond to a request for comment -- but the company will have to pull out the big guns for Nokia's showing to rival Samsung.

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Even if HMD Global does unveil a smart home device, we still expect to see new Nokia-branded phones as well. It was discovered that the recent Nokia 5 camera update includes the names of several unannounced Nokia model names, including the Nokia 1, 4, 7 Plus and 9. We don't know much about these phones, but we may hear more come MWC.

There's also a chance HMD will revamp some of last year's Nokia models, similarly to how it recently announced the 2018 version of the Nokia 6.

So if you're a fan of Nokia's brand, be sure to stay tuned to CNET as we cover MWC next month.