HMD’s Nokia launches a smartphone subscription service with eco-friendly twists

HMD’s Nokia has continued to release serviceable but unremarkable smartphones in recent years. It eschews attempts to compete with Samsung and Apple, and has settled into a groove of releasing solid mid-range and entry-level smartphones, wireless headphones, and even tablets. Now a new subscription plan has been announced that aims to “reward” users for keeping their phone longer.

Launching first in the UK and Germany, the new Circular subscription focuses on the environment and sustainability. It will appear alongside four new devices, including what HMD calls its greenest smartphone yet. The Nokia X30 is made from 100% recycled aluminum, including the device’s frame and speaker grilles, and uses 65% recycled plastic.

The X30, which isn’t coming to the US for now, has a 6.54-inch screen and a 50-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS). However, despite these bona fide recycled materials, HMD confirmed that there is still no removable battery, one of (several) problems when it comes to electronic waste.

The circular service itself is more interesting than the phones. The subscription fee covers the phone itself, and any accidental damage, loss, or theft is repaired at no separate monthly cost. The monthly pricing is reasonable, if not groundbreaking. For now, two devices (and that’s not even the new Nokia phones) will join the circular; The Nokia XR20 costs £20 (around $23) per month with a £30 (around $35) setup fee. It’s a 6.67-inch 5G rugged smartphone with dual cameras, including a 48-megapixel primary sensor.

There’s also the Nokia T10 LTE, an entry-level 8-inch tablet, for £10 (about $12) a month with the same £30 (about $35) setup fee.

While the aforementioned X30 won’t be on Circular at launch, having the battery non-removable will at least partially address those concerns of a smaller footprint. If you return a phone to them, either upgrading or leaving the service, the company will recycle or refurbish the device. It will also donate devices that cannot be resold to charity, although there were few details as to what those would be. There will also be longevity incentives to keep your Nokia phone longer, it just isn’t a financial one. Instead, you get credit for every six months that you continue to use your phone, which increases as the phone ages. These can then be used to “buy” tree seedlings or for carbon offset credits.

Given the structure (and power) of US wireless carriers, this model is unlikely to catch on at similar prices, if ever, but the company said it will roll out Circular globally in the coming months.

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