The first Android feature phone could be on the way. The Nokia 400, spotted last year, has received a Wi-Fi certification update.
HMD Global Nokia 400, first Android feature phone, receives Wi-Fi certification update
The upcoming Nokia phone is a feature phone that runs Android and has touch buttons but no on-screen gestures. It brings back to mind old cell phones that don't have smart features like AI but have a web browser, for instance. In this case, HMD would take a phone without any smarts and give it Android software. The Wi-Fi certification first appears in 2019 but is being updated. The certification update is a sign that the phone is getting closer to launch.
From the Wi-Fi certification, the device bears model number TA-1208 and is called "Nokia 400 4G." The non-smart feature phone will offer 4G cellular connectivity. Here's a testimony to the inexpensive nature of the phone. In this new 5G era, phones that will run only 4G will be more affordable than 5G-enabled devices. Along with the idea of affordability, the Nokia 400 will also run on the 2.4GHz band only instead of the 5GHz band. Running on one of the two frequency bands is another indicator that the Nokia 400 isn't trying to offer everything but rather, the majority of the essentials.
Nokia 400 to feature old WiFi standard
The Nokia 400 features 802.11b/g/n, which is more affordable Wi-Fi. It's not the top Wi-Fi standard, however. That belongs to 802.11ac, 802.11ad, or the new standard, 802.11ax. 802.11ax is what many know as Wi-Fi 6. The Galaxy S10 series is futureproof with Wi-Fi 6 support. The Nokia 400 is far less expensive than Samsung's flagships. Qualcomm and Intel are already producing Wi-Fi 6-capable processor chips for mobile devices. There's no word on what processor will power this feature phone.
The interesting part pertains to the operating system of the device. Though it is marked a "smartphone," the OS is "proprietary" and will run version "GAFP." Though there is no word on the meaning behind this acronym, some say it refers to "Google Android for feature phones" or "Google Apps for Feature Phones" (GAFP). There's a chance that the acronym stands for the former rather than the latter.
HMD's Nokia 400: Spotted some time ago
The Nokia 400 has received an update to its Wi-Fi certification, which means that this isn't the first time the feature phone has been spotted in the wild. Last year, an image of the device appeared. Later, a video surfaced of the phone showcasing its Google Assistant integration.
Google's Android for Feature Phones: Nokia 400 is just the beginning
The new proprietary OS for this feature phone suggests that HMD Global isn't the lone wolf staking new territory. Rather, it seems as though Google itself supports the new venture. After all, Google has said time and time again that it wants to make Android available to "the next billion people." The search engine giant's Android Go program targets the budget segment.
A feature phone running Android cannot do so without Google's knowledge and support. HMD Global licenses the "Nokia" name and is in partnership with Google. Huawei, for example, is no longer an Android OEM due to the Huawei Ban in the US last year. As such, Huawei, unlike HMD, cannot place Google's Android software on any new phones. Only OEMs with Google's "blessing" can do what HMD is attempting to do.
Since Google is aware, and the new OS is proprietary, it's likely the case that the Nokia 400 is just the beginning of Android feature phones. Motorola and Samsung are making phones with the familiar flip phone form factor that run Android. It's not farfetched to think that Google intends to produce feature phones that also run its mobile OS. Nostalgic hardware design is a top priority of Android these days.