HMD’s Nokia phones arrive on Verizon and Cricket, without Google’s Android One

HMD's first phone on Verizon, the Nokia 2V, costs just $70

Nokia 3.1 Plus
Nokia 3.1 Plus arrives on Cricket Wireless. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

HMD Global, the Finnish startup creating Nokia-branded smartphones and feature phones, is expanding its presence in North America with its first carrier partnerships this side of the Atlantic. Three phones — all slightly tweaked from their existing international variants — are respectively arriving at Rogers Wireless in Canada, as well as Verizon and Cricket Wireless in the U.S.

We recently wrote about how HMD is planning to ramp up its presence in the U.S. this year, seeing it as a critical market for the two-year-old startup’s growth. The company already sells a handful of products at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy — these include the Nokia 1, Nokia 2, Nokia 3.1, Nokia 6.1, Nokia 7.1, and the Nokia 3310. These phones all cost under $350, and it’s an area HMD thinks it can succeed in. But most people in the U.S. buy phones through carriers, which is why HMD’s latest partnership is crucial. It brings the Nokia brand back into the U.S. public’s consciousness.

“There was a space in the value segment where the consumers was not served,” Maurizio Angelone, vice president of Americas at HMD Global, told Digital Trends. “Thirty percent of North American consumers buy in the value segment — so in the below $200 price point. We said this is the space where Nokia actually can deliver strong value for the consumer.”

The first partnerships bring the Nokia 2V to Verizon (a variation of the international Nokia 2.1), the Nokia 3.1 Plus to Cricket Wireless (a variation of the international model, which shares the same name), and the Nokia 2.1 (international variant) to Rogers Wireless in Canada.

“This is just an initial step and big step into the U.S. market,” Angelone said.

What happens to the unlocked Nokia phones currently sold at retailers? Angelone said HMD still remains very committed to its open market phones and expects to grow its product portfolio in this space over the coming months while expanding the price points. So you’ll still be able to buy unlocked Nokia phones — and potentially new devices — soon.

But there is a major difference between HMD’s open-market phones and those now being sold through North American carriers — they are no longer a part of the Android One program from Google. As a refresher, almost all Nokia phones in 2018 launched under the Android One program, which promises fast version and security updates straight from Google. It also offers a clean and uncluttered stock Android experience — bloatware free — for the best user experience.

android one stage presentation

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer at HMD Global, talks about the Android One partnership at Mobile World Congress 2018. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The carrier-branded Nokia phones run stock Android, but we’ve already noticed the Nokia 3.1 Plus on Cricket Wireless comes with a good deal of pre-installed third-party apps. Thankfully, these are all uninstallable. More importantly, however, the lack of Android One branding means these phones may not get the latest version of Android — or security patches — as quickly as Google releases them. HMD doesn’t think we need to worry.

“We work with all of our partners, from manufacturers to carriers, to bring updates to our devices as quickly as possible,” Angelone told Digital Trends.

But as we’ve seen over the years, Android updates delivered through carriers and manufacturers (that aren’t Google) have often fallen to the wayside, arriving several months if not a year after Google has released a new Android version. HMD has maintained a good track record with most of its phones so far — just look at our Android 9 Pie update tracker and you’ll see HMD has brought the update to numerous phones already, with more to follow in the first quarter of 2019. We’ll have to take HMD’s word for now and hope it delivers these updates alongside carriers at a similar pace as its Android One phones.

What’s promising is the Nokia 3.1 Plus is launching with the latest Android 9 Pie version, and it just may be the cheapest phone with it yet.

Nokia 2V on Verizon

The Nokia 2V is an Android Go smartphone (based on Android 8.1 Oreo), which is a lighter version of Android meant to perform better on budget phones with weaker processors, as well as less storage and RAM. It’s filled with “Go” version apps, like Gmail Go and Google Maps Go, which similarly are lighter version apps that take up less space and require less memory. The software is still stock Android, with “no skins and no [user interface] changes.”

The phone itself looks quite basic, with a plastic back and aluminum frame. It has an IPS LCD 5.5-inch screen, with a 1,280 x 720 resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio, along with dual speakers with stereo sound for a decent movie-watching experience. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425 processor, with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. Thankfully, there’s MicroSD card support that lets you expand space up to 128GB.

hmd global nokia us carrier partnerships verizon cricket wireless 2 v
Nokia 2V

There’s a single camera on the rear that has 8 megapixels packed in, along with a 5-megapixel fixed-focus selfie camera. You’ll be happy to hear there’s a headphone jack, but sadly HMD is sticking with MicroUSB for the charging port instead of USB Type-C, which is far more universal. There is no NFC, so you won’t be able to make contactless payments with Google Pay.

On the bright side, there is a 4,000mAh battery packed in, and considering the rather low-power specs, it should mean the Nokia 2V should last for a long time before it needs a recharge. HMD claims two days of life, specifically. There’s fast charging here so you can juice up quickly.

These specifications are quite similar to the Nokia 2.1, which released internationally last year. The Nokia 2V comes in blue and silver, has a Verizon logo on the back, and is available now in Verizon stores and It costs just $70.

Nokia 3.1 Plus on Cricket Wireless

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is the most interesting phone of the lot, as it seems to offer genuinely strong features for an unbeatable, low price. While a similar variant of this phone is sold internationally (with a MediaTek processor), you’ll only be able to buy this one in the U.S. through Cricket Wireless, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) owned by AT&T and operating on its network.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

A 5.99-inch IPS LCD screen sits on the front, with HD+ resolution (1,440 x 720), and an 18:9 aspect ratio. The bezels are a little more slimmed down than the Nokia 2V, and it comes in a blue color. Inside is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 439 processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. There is a removable plastic back, but sadly it’s not to replace the battery. Instead, remove the back to insert the SIM card and MicroSD card, which lets you expand storage space up to 256GB.

On the back is a dual-camera system — one 13-megapixel lens is paired with a second 5-megapixel one. You’re able to use HMD’s Live Bokeh feature thanks to the dual camera setup, which is similar to Apple’s Portrait Mode. The front camera has 8 megapixels.

Software-wise, this phone runs the latest version from Google — Android 9 Pie — and HMD said it will work with Cricket Wireless to ensure timely version and security updates. It’s stock Android, but there are third-party apps pre-installed (that you can delete).

NFC is onboard here, which is rare to see on phones in this price range. That means you can use this phone to make contactless payments via Google Pay. There is also a fingerprint sensor on the back for additional convenience and security. It’s a USB Type-C charging port on the bottom, and the phone packs a 3,500mAh battery, which HMD said should last for two days.

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is available now from Cricket Wireless stores and online for just $160.

Nokia 2.1 on Rogers

The Nokia 2.1 on Rogers is the same international version we’ve covered before, but with branding specifically for the Canadian carrier. It will be available in the first quarter of 2019, likely around March.

Product Review

Nokia’s 3.1 Plus is an affordable phone that’s crippled by its camera

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is HMD Global’s first smartphone to be sold by a U.S. carrier in-store. It’s only available on Cricket Wireless right now, which underlines its focus on affordability. Should you buy a phone this affordable?

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Galaxy S9: How much better is Samsung’s new flagship?

You'd naturally expect the Samsung Galaxy S10 to be better than last year's S9, but just how do the two phones differ? We break down the specs and compare Samsung's flagships in various categories to pick a winner.

Google’s radical Gmail redesign is finally rolling out on Android

Google is slowly but surely giving its apps a refresh, modernizing them and ensuring that they're easy to use. The latest app to get a redesign is the Gmail app for Android, which has been redesigned with a few tweaks.
Movies & TV

An Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series might be headed to Disney Plus

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney Plus compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.
Home Theater

Samsung Galaxy Buds first look: Are they ear candy or ear worm?

Samsung’s answer to the oddball design of Apple's AirPods is the new Galaxy Buds, which are cheaper, better looking, and bring some neat features. Can Galaxy Buds snuff out the AirPods?
Product Review

Samsung's Galaxy S10 phones are its most refined yet. Be prepared to pay up

Samsung has unveiled its lineup for its most popular smartphones, and it includes the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. The two flagship phones boast hole-punch cameras, fingerprint sensors embedded in the display, and beefier batteries.

Adobe Premiere Rush CC is coming to the Samsung Galaxy S10 this year

The Samsung Galaxy S10 boasts a number of hardware improvements over previous Samsung phones, but it also offers a few software improvements too. Adobe Premiere Rush CC, for example, is coming to the Samsung Galaxy S10 later this year.

Folding smartphones hinge on the success of the Samsung Galaxy Fold

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. S10 Plus vs. S10e vs. S10 5G: Which should you buy?

With four stunning Galaxy S10 phones to choose from, Samsung is bombarding us with choice, but which one should you buy? We compare the S10, S10 Plus, S10e, and S10 5G in various categories to find out exactly how they differ.

Samsung's new Galaxy Watch Active can track your blood pressure

Looking for a new fitness buddy? Samsung just launched the Galaxy Watch Active and the Galaxy Fit, two new wearables with a raft of fitness-focused features that'll keep you moving and get you down the gym.

Here’s where you can buy the brand-new Samsung Galaxy S10

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced, however, you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.

Samsung Galaxy S10 optimizations make it great for Fortnite

Samsung's new line of Galaxy S10 devices have been optimized for gaming. All three offer improved support for the Unity engine and the S10 Plus also offers vapor chamber cooling, similar to the Xbox One X.

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.

The best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus cases to protect your $1,000 phone

Can't get enough of big phones? The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is absolutely up your alley. But it's still fragile, and damage is easily gathered through normal life. Protect it with the best Galaxy S10 Plus cases.