Speculation is heating up that Nokia could be planning a return to manufacturing smartphones in the future, if hints dropped by CEO Rajeev Suri are anything to go by.

Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services division in April 2014 saw the latter give away its brand name and the Lumia trademark to the Redmond-based company in a limited license agreement.

As terms of the acquisition agreement with Nokia, Microsoft acquired the Lumia and Asha brands, with a limited license on the Nokia brand for promoting smartphones. Microsoft can use the Nokia and Lumia brands for marketing for 18 months post-acquisition (October 2015). Microsoft can market Nokia X devices until 31 December 2015. As for feature phones, Microsoft can use the Nokia brand for 10 years.

Microsoft recently decided that future Lumia smartphones will be called Microsoft Lumia and not Nokia Lumia. Microsoft is also looking at introducing multiple hardcore reforms in terms of marketing erstwhile Nokia smartphones (Popular feature-phones of Nokia were killed post the Microsoft acquisition).

Nokia plots a return to smartphones?

According to reports on Nokia's Q3 2014 results, Nokia Corporation's CEO Rajeev Suri has reiterated the fact that Nokia is still a valuable brand from the perspective of mobile phones, and mobile devices as a whole.

Nokia also recently launched the HERE Maps app for Android, which signals its ongoing development work for the platform.

Suri's statement, ongoing android development work, and even its close ties to the Jolla smartphone team, has led to speculation that Nokia could re-enter the smartphone market at some point after the 2016 branding license countdown expires.

This may be easier said than done, as a chunk of Nokia's best talents migrated to Microsoft as part of the Nokia acquisition deal, while on the other hand, swathes of employees have been laid off from the previous Nokia mobile phone division.

The fact is that the Nokia brand remains strong, well-known for its affordable range of cellphones, especially in developing countries such as India, where you will find a large number of old-time Nokia users who have grown up using Nokia mobiles.

Nokia as a brand still going strong, says Nokia Vice-President

In a recent official blog post, Barry French, Executive Vice-President, Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Nokia, states that the Finnish company will be taken from strength to strength in areas such as telecom infrastructure.

French also mentions Nokia as being 'financially robust', despite the company's mobile phone business having been sold to Microsoft.

In summary, loyalists of both Microsoft and Nokia can expect certain hardcore changes in future smartphone products (both hardware and software) manufactured by the companies.