Nokia denies reports it plans to return to smartphones

Former handset giant calls reports it will rejoin the smartphone sector in 2016 "false."

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Nokia calls reports it will resume smartphone manufacturing false. SARI GUSTAFSSON/AFP/Getty Images

Nokia Technologies said Sunday it has no plans to resume smartphone manufacturing, denying recent reports it would return to a business it famously abandoned not so long ago.

"Nokia notes recent news reports claiming the company communicated an intention to manufacture consumer handsets out of a R&D facility in China," the company said in a statement. "These reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive."

Nokia was said to be working on a secret project that would result in the company announcing a new smartphone as early as 2016. The Finland-based company was expected to unveil the device and then license its design and name to another company that would handle production and sales, according to the report.

The company was once the dominant handset maker in the world but failed to adapt swiftly to the touchscreen smartphone craze and soon found itself well behind Samsung and Apple. As Nokia tried to rebuild its business, customers increasingly turned elsewhere.

Nokia exited the handset business one year ago when Microsoft formally acquired Nokia's phone division for $7.2 billion, giving Microsoft the rights to use the Nokia name for a period of time and to continue producing Nokia smartphones through 2015. Nokia Technologies -- one of three divisions that was not included in the sale -- licenses the company's patents to other firms and is charged with new product development.

Since it sold its handset business to Microsoft, Nokia has been focused on its long-running telecoms business, building equipment that enables mobile networks to function, as well as its Here mapping service. Earlier this month, Nokia confirmed it had finalized a deal with Alcatel-Lucent to acquire the French-based telecommunications company for $16.6 billion.