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Nokia isn't coming to the US with any carrier partners

Startup HMD Global is backtracking after its CEO told CNET that Nokia phones wouldn't be coming to the US this year.

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Like the look of these phones? If you're in the US, you're not getting your hands on them anytime soon.

Katie Collins/CNET

HMD Global, maker of Nokia phones, laid bare its ambitions for capturing every corner of the phone market when it unveiled five new devices at its Mobile World Congress press conference in Barcelona on Sunday.

Appealing to a spectrum of consumers from "The Matrix" fans and feature phone lovers (with the reboot of the classic 8110) to entry-level Android Go users to those wanting something high-end and shiny to show off, the company seems at first glance to have something for everyone.

Now Playing: Watch this: My cellular, bananular phone: Nokia's 8110 returns
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But there's one market where HMD will take just baby steps for now: the US

On Monday, HMD CEO Florian Seiche said there were no plans to sell the new phones in the US. But the company later reversed itself, saying the Nokia 6 will be coming to the US in May. It won't, though, be available through any carrier partners.

"It's not a core focus for this year, but certainly it is on our road map," Seiche said in an interview after the unveiling.

It'll have to be, because HMD has some lofty goals for Nokia phones. "Our ambition is to become again one of the leading players, which means, top five or better in the next three to five years," said Seiche.

HMD says it's among the top five phone makers in 15 markets already, but it still has a steep mountain to climb before it can fulfill its ambition of being a top five player globally. Not only does it have Apple and Samsung to take on, but also Chinese phone giants like Huawei. At the moment it's a David among Goliaths.

Seiche doesn't seem phased, though. He explained with a breezy cheerfulness that HMD will double down on reinforcing its footprint in those markets where it's enjoyed success this year -- regions including Europe, India, Indonesia and Russia -- by offering a much wider range of phones.

"That momentum that we are now creating in the markets where we are present helps us to capture attention from future possible customers or countries," he said. "We still have on our journey some big opportunities like the US to follow up on."

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This year's retro reboot from Nokia was the 8110 banana phone that Neo uses in "The Matrix."

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Only the Nokia 6 is coming to the US right now, and it's set to land in retail stores in May. There's no word yet on the flagship Nokia 8 Sirocco and the Nokia 8110 banana phone, which is sad news for those in the US who'd like a little piece of "The Matrix." HMD also confirmed that the 8110 4G won't be making its way to Australia.

But Nokia fans in the US shouldn't give up hope just yet.

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


Originally published Feb. 26 at 5:02 a.m. PT.
Updated Feb. 27 at 6:00 a.m. PT: This story initially said no new Nokia phones would come to the US this year. HMD Global later clarified its intentions, saying it would bring the Nokia 6 to the US in May.

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