Nokia plans to start designing and licensing smartphones from the end of 2016, CEO Rajeev Suri told Manager Magazin.
The Finnish vendor can license its name to other handset makers from the fourth quarter of 2016, under the terms of an agreement signed when it sold its Devices & Services unit to Microsoft.
“We are looking for suitable partners,” Suri (pictured) told the publication.
“Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license,” he said.
Microsoft has a deal to use the Nokia brand on feature phones over a ten-year period, but the same is not the case for smartphones. And Microsoft is already moving away from the Nokia name on its smartphones, preferring to use the Lumia brand.
Nokia can already license its brand for other consumer electronic devices, and released an Android tablet, the N1, in China at the start of 2015. It was thought to have been manufactured by Foxconn, a name also likely to be linked to any smartphone licensing deal.