Nokia’s Normandy project gave the smartphone world a pleasant surprise when it was first leaked at the end of 2013.
For years, users had been crying out for the Finnish phone maker to release an Android phone.
Instead, Espoo went all-in with Microsoft and is about to become the Redmond giant’s phone division, following a multi-billion pound takeover.
After leaked pics of the device itself and stories about how Nokia had created a forked version of Android so it could be used on smartphones in developing countries, stories emerged that the project had been killed.
With the takeover almost complete, Microsoft clearly didn’t want its new acquisition working on phones using rival Google software.
However, screenshots leaked this week, showing the device running a dual SIM and with a neat interface, have suggested all is not lost.
And even though Microsoft may not like it, surely Nokia should rush this device out.
It would doubtless sell brilliantly in developing countries, offering a welter of Google-backed apps in a package that would almost certainly be highly affordable.
Microsoft is expected to finish up its deal for Nokia in the next couple of months.
But with the Normandy project so advanced, Nokia could perhaps get devices ready for Mobile World Congress in February and start flogging them before everything is signed and sealed.
If they sell, then perhaps Microsoft could be convinced that this approach is one worth sticking with in new markets.
It would at least allow it to sell devices at a swift rate, even if users weren’t plugged into its app economy.
If not, then we’d get an idea of what a slimmed down Nokia could be cooking up for a couple of years time.
Under the terms of Microsoft’s deal for Nokia’s devices and services business, the remaining parts of the Finnish company are not allowed to build and sell a phone for two years.
Normandy, then, could be the ultimate teaser. A forerunner for what Nokia phones could be in 2016 and beyond.
They could also show what might have been, had Nokia not stuck so steadfastly to its Symbian strategy before making the questionable decision of going all-in with Windows Phone.
Whatever happens, it would be a real shame that something so exciting and innovative got shelved.
We’ve seen plenty of decent budget Windows Phones, so how about something different?