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[Indian Express] The Future of Nokia: Interview with Miika Mahonen - Part 2

Hello Fans, This is Part 2 of the Indian Express interview with Miika Mahonen, Principal Designer, HMD Global.

[Indian Express] The Future of Nokia: Interview with Miika Mahonen - Part 2

dipankar paul dipankar paul
Staff member  /  edited February 2020

Hello Fans,

This is Part 2 of the Indian Express interview with Miika Mahonen, Principal Designer, HMD Global. (Click this to read part 1.)

Here, Miika talks about form factors, innovation and the megapixel wars.

Image: Miika Mahonen, Principal Designer, HMD Global, poses with Nokia smartphone consumers at the Let's Talk Design event in India.

Do you follow the design trends that your competitors are following?

When I talk about design trends, there are two sides to it. Some design trends are more about aesthetics and then there are design trends that are about user experience. Design trends have a side where it is a lot about aesthetics like fashion, colors, materials, etc. And then there’s also a lot of design trends of how the user experience itself is developed. So we do follow things and we incorporate and take inspiration from the best things, but at the same time, we stick to what is our own vision.

A lot of innovation is happening in and around the display. Some manufacturers are going with a 120Hz display, while others are using the waterfall displays to take the concept of curved screens to the next level. What do you have to say?

For us, the most important thing is whether the technology is mature enough that we can guarantee quality for the consumer. For waterfall displays and some phones being launched hasn’t been necessarily that straightforward how it’s been working. So any new technology that we will bring or incorporate in our designs…we bring it at a point where we are a hundred percent sure that we can guarantee the quality and the functionalism of the product. We don’t want to risk our products having any issues.

Foldable phones have finally arrived, though at present there are a lot of technical challenges that still persist. Is HMD Global looking at this space?

Visual information is very important and that’s why the display technology is so important. We are working on how we can come up with the second generation and how we can improve the visual technology but I cannot reveal too much. But I can tell you that we are doing a lot of future concepts right now in different areas and that’s something I can say for sure.

Well, if you look at a bigger scale, the trend is more about simplification and optimization of these products, right? We are driving away from having this portable computer into our comfortable design that supports your actions in everyday life. That’s a big trend and that’s something we are looking at. That’s why even in the industrial design, we are coming up with solutions to make it more comfortable, more simplified, improve the quality and improve usability.

The Nokia quality and durability is still very much our essential driver. And those values go really well together with minimal Nordic design. And this is what we are developing now. Anything that’s not needed is not there. 

Designing and manufacturing foldable phones isn’t easy. As a designer, do you think foldable phones are the future of smartphones?

Look, this is the basic law of physics. When something changes, for example, this material bands, there will always be certain a source of difficulties or challenges. Will the foldable phone be a definite thing in the future? Maybe not. Maybe there will be other solutions as well that can improve the visual experience besides foldable displays.

Why haven’t the megapixel wars ended, and why are smartphone manufacturers once again talking about a high megapixel camera?

The megapixel races are definitely ongoing, but I would say that for us (HMD Global) as a company, we are really developing our internal resources to improve experience and software design when it comes to cameras. The camera part is really important for us to and for example, our collaboration with Carl Zeiss. So we are really putting a big effort internally to develop these resources and teams so we can keep improving our camera experience through all the new models that we are releasing.

Reports suggest that HMD Global’s next flagship will drop the ‘PureView’ branding? Is it true?

Sorry, I cannot answer your question.

As a designer, how do you assess the current-generation of Nokia phones?

I think we have made good progress. I would say that we are really discovering our own identity in a way, but we don’t want to fully follow what our competitors are doing. We want to tap Nordic premium design that’s known for simplicity and long-lasting timelessness. That’s our key factor and that’s something we will continue to pursue. Like, we want to design devices that look great next year and look great even after 10 years.

Read Part 3 - Recreating classic phones, 5G, and what inspires Miika


  • singhnsk singhnsk
    Super User  / 

    Hi @dipankar paul, thanks for posting these here. These are some nice insights into HMD's current situation. More than anything else, I see some confidence and signs that there's finally a brighter side of the dark tunnel that HMD was in for a while.

    @Miika Mahonen I'll wait for your work on more Nokia phones. Especially your inclusion of the software aspect. The software experience is as important as the hardware. I'm seeing some signs of HMD's deeper involvement in the development of the final product. Here's hoping that you'll make a really practical use of the "foldable" display technology if ever you'll decide to finally launch a product featuring that. The galaxy fold was probably never a good example even though it will likely take the crown of being the "first", the Moto Razr definitely is! So, yeah.. looking towards that.

    Some great examples of devices that look great next year and look great even after 10 years are these guys 👇👇👇👇

    The start of that elegant design: N9

    The 925: Such a design and I like how the pogo pins were used to ensure that there's always a possibility to extend the functionality.

    The 830: I think the camera decoration resembles the new Nokia 7.2/6.2.

    These devices were launched years ago and if you still look at one, you'll find it so fresh even for the year 2020. There are several examples from Nokia itself. And even though HMD Global has carried that design legacy, probably we still don't have something that beats that "fabula design" levels. Maybe that's due to the fact that HMD has been a little shy of making the use of colors.

    Looking forward for more in 2020. Best wishes :)

  • praveenp praveenp
    ✭✭✭✭  / 

    It's good that HMD is not running after design experimentation with notches and as Miika said, sticking to their own vision. Putting a simple un-notched display on a flagship phone like 9 PureView rather than some notched design was a good decision, and hope it continues.

    I am looking forward to revival of Lumia type designs and an Android based Symbian OS.

  • thanoofnaina thanoofnaina
    ✭✭✭  / 

    oooh didn't see that coming, the second last question. It should not be true.... please. don't stop the pureview branding. instead make it everlasting, just like the old nokia pureview devices being compared with mobiles with new software and technology. make the pureview live through generations

  • singhnsk singhnsk
    Super User  / 

    That's probably only because they'll reserve the PureView for devices with great camera experiences. I find it as a sacred term given its history. It was really special and to carry the legacy branding, the PureView device should meet the expectation all of us have from PureView. I mean, it is not just a marketing term, it is an all-inclusive camera experience.

    Taking a break till they can make a camera breakthrough wouldn't hurt much 😊

  • madbilly madbilly
    Super User  / 

    PureView was used on loads of devices. My 925 has PureView branding, but it only had an 8.3MP camera I think. IIRC the 808 was PureView, but the 1020 was PureView Pro, because by that time there were many other PureView devices because Nokia changed the meaning of PureView from the 41MP oversampling algorithm to the use of OIS in the 920, then combined these two in the 1020 and called it PureView Pro. The 20MP phones (1520, 930, 950s) were back to just PureView, although they had oversampling and OIS.

    So, using PureView for a lesser camera setup does have precedence. Let's wait and see how HMD decide to use it.

    Cheers 🙂

  • singhnsk singhnsk
    Super User  / 

    @madbilly Ditto, as long as the camera does exceptionally well in its segment, it is okay to flaunt the PureView branding. After all, PureView became more about giving a great camera quality and not just about oversampling.

    I am also missing how Nokia used uncommon camera megapixels and more or less proved that megapixels aren't everything. They showed that the master has his way to do things differently. The Lumia 720 with a 6.7MP camera received great reviews (even though it wasn't a PureView). It was also the Lumia which I always wanted to have, but never managed to 😟

  • user123 user123
    ✭✭✭  / 

    Hi @dipankar paul ,

    Any update on BOOTLOADER UNLOCK for Nokia devices??

    Seems to simple feature but it will do a Lot.

    This is the feature that will retain the device existence for longer period.

    For example if I take galaxy s2 ,It was released nearly 9 year ago and last official update was android 4.4 but the positive move of Samsung regarding bootloader unlock make the device still usable and android Q is available for the device but controversial bootloader unlock policy of HMD Nokia makes device is no more usable after 2 years (I am currently using Nokia 6) because of lot of OS issues.

    If you provide the BOOTLOADER UNLOCK we can use the device until its hardware failure ( at least 30 out of 100 users who were interested in device modification) because investing 15-20K every 3 years for a device is waste of money.

    Either HMD support until the device last or HMD should provide a room for developers to serve the device until last else Device built for last Doesn't have any meaning, its just a piece of brick after two years.

    @HMDLaura , @juho

    Is Nokia is really for POWER USERS???

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