For the past few years, HMD’s Nokia has continued to release serviceable but unremarkable smartphones. Instead of competing with the likes of Samsung and Apple, it’s settled into a routine of releasing solid mid-range and entry-level smartphones, wireless headphones, and even tablets.
It has now announced a new subscription plan that it claims will “reward users” for keeping their phone for a longer period of time. Its new Circular subscription, which will initially be available in the United Kingdom and Germany, is centered on the environment and sustainability.
It’ll be on display alongside four new devices, including what HMD calls its most environmentally friendly smartphone yet. The Nokia X30 is made of 100% recycled aluminum, including the device’s frame and speaker grills, and contains 65% recycled plastic.
The X30, which will not be available in the United States for the time being, has a 6.54-inch screen and a 50-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS). Despite those recycled material credentials, HMD confirmed that there is still no removable battery, which is one of (several) issues with electronics waste.
The Circular service is more interesting than the phones themselves. The subscription fee will cover the phone, and any accidental damage, loss, or theft will be covered without additional monthly fees. The monthly pricing is reasonable, if not revolutionary.
For the time being, two devices (not even the new Nokia phones) will join Circular; the Nokia XR20 will cost £20 (approximately $23) per month with a £30 (approximately $35) setup fee. It’s a toughened 6.67-inch 5G smartphone with dual cameras, one of which is a 48-megapixel primary sensor.
The Nokia T10 LTE, an entry-level 8-inch tablet, is also available for £10 (approximately $12) per month with the same £30 (approximately $35) setup fee.
While the aforementioned X30 will not be available on Circular at launch, concerns about a smaller footprint when the battery isn’t removable have been addressed in part. When you return a phone to them, whether to upgrade or leave the service, the device is recycled or refurbished.
It will also donate devices that cannot be resold to charitable causes, though details on what these will be were scarce. There will be longevity incentives for keeping your Nokia phone longer, but they will not be financial.
Instead, you’ll earn credits for every six months you keep your phone, with credits increasing as the phone gets older. These can then be used to ‘purchase’ tree saplings or carbon offset credits.
Given the structure (and power) of US mobile carriers, this model is unlikely to be replicated at comparable prices, if at all, but the company has stated that Circular will be rolled out globally in the coming months.