Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Feb 2014 11:13 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Today, at Mobile World Congress, Nokia has unveiled its new line of smartphones: Nokia X. Instead of running Windows Phone or even Asha, these devices run Android, altered to look (somewhat) like Windows Phone. There's really not a whole lot of new stuff to say here, since most of it has already been leaked - except for the fact that there will be three Nokia X devices (with more to come!). The Nokia X, Nokia X+ (with slightly more memory), and the Nokia XL (with a larger display).

They look as colourful as any Nokia phone, but specifications are low-end; a dual-core 1Ghz processor, 800x480, and 512 or 768 MB RAM. It runs Android 4.1.2, and not the low-specifications optimised Android 4.4. It turns out that the low specifications impact the user experience, as evidenced by Tom Warren's first impressions:

Using the X can be quite frustrating, however, as the entire interface is prone to slow response and a lot of lag. Closing or switching between apps on the X takes far longer than other, even entry-level, smartphones, and browsing the web will quickly test your patience. The third-party apps we saw on the X, such as Facebook, looked as they do on other Android smartphones, but they too suffered from poor performance. Nokia's choice to combine the functions of home and back into the single back button is confusing, and i's difficult to predict exactly where in the interface the button will take you when you press it.

The user interface feels like Windows Phone, Android, and Harmattan had an illegitimate baby born out of wedlock. The end result is something that looks like a Frankenstein user interface, whose different aspects do not really align very well. The Metro-inspired homescreen, for instance, looks like a Windows Phone knock-off you would find on a cheap no-brand clone. The Android parts - inside applications, mostly - looks weird because Nokia's signature font simply doesn't fit.

I haven't used it, of course, so imagine a big asterisk here, but it looks like a classic example of design-by-committee. The Metro homescreen? Implemented because of Microsoft. The Nokia fonts? Implemented because Nokia. The swipe aspects? Because hey, the N9 is loved, so let's throw that in there as well. It doesn't feel like it has a unifying vision behind it.

The Nokia X looks like great hardware - as always, this is Nokia - but with a rather unusual and unappealing operating system. I honestly cannot wait until the XDA community gets its hands on this thing - I predict Google Play within a few days, and CyanogenMod within a few weeks. With this Android fork being completely void of Google services or Google applications, I would really wait until that's sorted out - unless you want to restrict yourself to a limited set of applications (developers need to port applications).

This raises the question of 'why'. Nokia now ships phones with four different operating systems - Windows Phone, Android, Series 40, Asha platform - which must be a hell to maintain. It doesn't really seem like Nokia needed to make an Android phone, considering that it already sells the 520 with Windows Phone. The only reason I can think of is that Nokia plans to eventually supplant Nokia Asha platform with this Android fork.

However, there's a problem here, and that's Microsoft's reaction to the Nokia X. Microsoft's Joe Belfiore:

We have a great relationship with Nokia. They've built great products. We haven't complete our acquisition. They may do some things we're excited about. Other things we are LESS excited. But whatever they do we are very supportive of the partnership.

That doesn't exactly instill confidence in the future of the Nokia X product line.

All in all, despite the somewhat shoddy first impressions of the user interface, and the warnings of slow performance, I'm still quite excited about the Nokia X. They look great, and once the XDA community gets its hands on it, it will actually become useful - because I saved the best for last: price. It'll be EUR 89 for the Nokia X, EUR 99 for the Nokia X+, and EUR 109 for the Nokia XL. To be honest, I think the X+ is the best deal, since the low resolution's pixelated edges of the 5" XL will most likely cut your eyeballs. Important note: it won't be available in the US.

That's a great price, and once CyanogenMod and other ROMs (4.4 instead of 4.1.2) run on it, it'll be useful too.

Order by: Score:
Bet won!
by Adurbe on Mon 24th Feb 2014 11:25 UTC
Adurbe
Member since:
2005-07-06

avgalen, I think its fair to say I took your bet and I won this one ;)

http://www.osnews.com/permalink?582726
(if anyone wants to take a bet, contact me. I am willing to bet they aren't going to release it and even that they aren't going to exhibit it)

For those who didn't know the stake was one vote up on a comment

Reply Score: 15

RE: Bet won!
by avgalen on Mon 24th Feb 2014 13:15 UTC in reply to "Bet won!"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

I tried to give you three because they actually announced 3 phones, but obviously OSNews doesn't allow more than 1 vote per comment per user.

I am still thinking that as soon as Nokia is finally bought by Microsoft this project gets killed.

Also, doesn't Nokia break just about every design/patent that Microsoft has on their Windows Phone UI? Of course I don't expect Microsoft to sue Nokia over this but it seems that Nokia did this while leaning on 2 ideas. "We are part of MS so we can do whatever we want with MS intellectual properties" and "We are independent so we can do whatever we want with the OS"

Anyway, congrats with winning this bet. Now do you want to bet if/when these phones will actually become real products as well (and real Microsoft Products)

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: Bet won!
by Adurbe on Mon 24th Feb 2014 13:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Bet won!"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

haha double or nothing! Done ;)

---------

I think they will release them, but I doubt in the 'west', it will be delayed until its obsolete.

This phone is (to my mind) aimed squarely at the Indian sub-continent. They have the brand there and this is their last chance to capitalise on it before they 'lose' their hardware.

Nokia will really really push this range as I think Nokia will continue with their own app store/fork well after MS kill the Nokia X itself.

Nokia is in a unique position.
They have a 10 year cross licensing agreement with MS as part of the buy-out. This could mean their OEMs not having to pay the 'android tax'. $10 dollars per phone will soon add up for the mass production OEMs.

Microsoft would certainly support this endeavour, as it takes share from Google, the 'real enemy'. Maybe a Nokia store exclusive android MS Office to help the push ;)

p.s. I'm not breaking each of those down into bets :-p

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: Bet won!
by avgalen on Mon 24th Feb 2014 16:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Bet won!"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

From what I understood you seem to think that after Microsoft buys Nokia, Nokia will continue to make smartphones like these X-smartphones. As far as I understood they neither have the right to do that (no smartphones or featurephones for a few years), nor the capability (departments move to Microsoft), nor the branding (Lumia and Asha become MS-only for a few years), nor even the desire (HERE maps, patents and cellular infrastructure are all Nokia will focus on for a few years).

From what I have read Nokia is going to release it on the 3rd of March. This really seems a total rush job after developing it for so long. I think they just want to get it out into the world before Microsoft takes over and kills it.
Basically these are AOSP (4.1.2 WTF) phones that have nothing to do with Google services (GSM) but run Nokia and Microsoft services instead. They might look (but don't behave) like Windows Phone...but they run Android apps instead of Windows Phone apps so they are in no way a "gateway-drug" into Windows Phone.

Of course we will never see any of these phones, just like we normally don't see any Asha-phones and I don't think we are missing anything because of that.

This whole thing still has me stumped. It is as if Nokia is making a final statement about "what could have been" and Microsoft has no choice but to let it happen

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: Bet won!
by Adurbe on Mon 24th Feb 2014 17:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Bet won!"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

Nokia cant sell phones, but (as far as I'm aware) there is nothing stopping them running a store and android fork which in turn they can offer to OEMs.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Bet won!
by avgalen on Mon 24th Feb 2014 17:49 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Bet won!"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

I agree that there is nothing that stops them from doing so, but it would be the ultimate switcharoo.

In that scenario Nokia will become a softwaremaker that is looking for OEMs (like Microsoft) to produce the hardware?

Previously Nokia was a hardwaremaker that had several OS's that were quickly becoming obsolete. So they turned to Microsoft for a modern OS.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Bet won!
by zima on Fri 28th Feb 2014 12:09 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Bet won!"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Google services (GSM)

GSM, confusing name when it comes to mobiles...

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Bet won!
by glarepate on Tue 25th Feb 2014 17:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Bet won!"
glarepate Member since:
2006-01-04

You are right on the money here.

The new X phones will not be offered in the West. At least in the U.S.

And Indian manufacturers Xola and Karbonn have been announced along with Chinese electronics maker Hon Hai, which trades under the name, wait for it,









Foxconn.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Bet won!
by glarepate on Mon 24th Feb 2014 16:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Bet won!"
glarepate Member since:
2006-01-04

I'll give you a +1 here so that I can still post comments later on.

But now I have to manually post all upvotes. (-:

Reply Score: 3

Adurbe
Member since:
2005-07-06

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/nokia/10657433/Nokia-X-Androi...

Telegraph.co.uk ‎- by Matt Warman
The first Google Android phone to be made by Nokia, soon to be owned by Microsoft, has been confirmed.


groooooan

Edited 2014-02-24 11:44 UTC

Reply Score: 4

The123king Member since:
2009-05-28

Technically Android was mostly built and designed by Google employees, so calling it Google Android is hardly misleading. It's much like complaining about calling MS Windows MS Windows on a bloatware-clogged laptop. It's still the same OS, built and designed by Google, it's just got bloatware on top and no access to Google Play. What would you rather call it? Nokia Android? Nokia StillbornPlatform? I think you're getting worked up over nothing.

Reply Score: 4

Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

No, no one will die as a result of this. But doesn't mean it is correct. Its akin to saying a laptop with Ubuntu installed comes with debian linux.
It sort of does.. but not Quite does it?

Reply Score: 3

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

When Ubuntu was first released? Yeah that was more than accurate. Warty Warthog was pretty much debian with a brown theme.

Side note: What the hell is up with ubuntu and their choice of colors? First ugly brown, now ugly purple? Is Shuttleworth colorblind?

Reply Score: 3

reduz Member since:
2006-02-25

Soon Microsoft will finally have their own Linux distro. Won't that be unthinked of 10 years back?

Reply Score: 5

Comment by wigry
by wigry on Mon 24th Feb 2014 12:21 UTC
wigry
Member since:
2008-10-09

Don't compare it to Galaxy flagship or WP but in stead with their Asha line. If you have a choice either Asha r X then Android has massive advantages over Asha. First being the exceptional ease of development. What I guess is that Nokia might try to phase out Asha within year or two and replace it with Android based handsets exclusively so they ultimately will maintain only WP and Android.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by wigry
by moondevil on Mon 24th Feb 2014 12:26 UTC in reply to "Comment by wigry"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Do you really expect that to happen if the acquisition takes place?!

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by wigry
by acobar on Mon 24th Feb 2014 13:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by wigry"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

Don't you think would be a wise movement if MS gets a foot on both platforms?

- Try to sell good phones with MS systems on upper level market, if they stick, de-emphasize, with time, the Android offerings;

- Sell cheap Android phones, if MS phone system do not stick, start to bundle MS exclusives to Android and to make them (phones) better.

Looks like a sane strategy to me.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by wigry
by The123king on Mon 24th Feb 2014 14:27 UTC in reply to "Comment by wigry"
The123king Member since:
2009-05-28

Nokia Windows Phone phones and Nokia Android phones target two completely different markets. WP8 is designed for (fairly) high-end smartphones aimed at consumers in developed countries, who can afford to dump $300-500 on a phone. The android phones are aimed at developing nations, where Android phones dominate the market. IMHO Nokia releasing an Android phone (even without Google Play) is a very smart idea, and it harks back to the cheap-brick Nokias of the late 90's/early 00's. The low-end mobile phone sector always used to be dominated by Nokia, maybe it's time to go back to it's roots.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by wigry
by Soulbender on Mon 24th Feb 2014 15:31 UTC in reply to "Comment by wigry"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Don't compare it to Galaxy flagship or WP but in stead with their Asha line


Or other Android phones. Of course, then your brain goes "sure, it's Nokia but....no, just no".

Reply Score: 3

Are they nuts??
by bassbeast on Mon 24th Feb 2014 12:26 UTC
bassbeast
Member since:
2007-11-11

But WTH were they thinking pairing a DUAL CORE with a pathetic 512Mb of RAM? Really? That is like taking a turbo Porsche engine and jamming on a Pinto powertrain, all you have done is made something that is just gonna spend its time grinding. Its senseless, its stupid, and that single design choice has doomed it to running like crap. Hell my phone from 2011 has 512Mb of RAM...and the much lower resource 2.3! WTH Nokia?

Reply Score: 4

RE: Are they nuts??
by osvil on Mon 24th Feb 2014 12:45 UTC in reply to "Are they nuts??"
osvil Member since:
2012-10-25

512 Mb and dual core? Like the iPhone 4S?

I agree they are nuts. Not because of only 512Mb for a dual core, but because it is 512Mb running Android, which is mostly a garbage collected platform:

http://people.cs.umass.edu/~emery/pubs/gcvsmalloc.pdf

From the article conclusions:
[...]
"Comparing runtime, space consumption, and virtual memory footprints over a range of benchmarks, we show that the runtime performance of the best-performing garbage collector is competitive with explicit memory management when given enough memory."
[...]
"garbage collection’s performance degrades substantially when it must use smaller heaps. With three times as much memory, it runs 17% slower on average, and with twice as much memory, it runs 70% slower."
[...]

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Are they nuts??
by tylerdurden on Mon 24th Feb 2014 20:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Are they nuts??"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

I assume this phone is just a repurposed low end lumia HW platform running android instead of WP.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Are they nuts??
by some1 on Tue 25th Feb 2014 04:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Are they nuts??"
some1 Member since:
2010-10-05

All current top mobile OSes use automatic memory management in their default application frameworks. And most other mobile OSes too, with the exception of Megoo and Ubuntu, and maybe something even more obscure.
Also, 512Mb used to be a ton of memory. Certainly enough to run a GC. People ran gcs on systems with 4 killowords (of course, the design of those gcs was quite different).

Edited 2014-02-25 04:14 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Well of course....
by peejay on Mon 24th Feb 2014 13:31 UTC
peejay
Member since:
2005-06-29

Using the X can be quite frustrating, however, as the entire interface is prone to slow response and a lot of lag. Closing or switching between apps on the X takes far longer than other, even entry-level, smartphones, and browsing the web will quickly test your patience.

Why would you buy this Android phone when we have these much better Lumias right over here?

We'll even let you try them side by side...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Well of course....
by sb56637 on Mon 24th Feb 2014 13:44 UTC in reply to "Well of course...."
sb56637 Member since:
2006-05-11

Ha, good one. I suspect the sales tactic (and the raison d'être of this weird phone) would actually go more like:

"Why would you buy *ANY* Android phone (since they obviously all stink like this one does) when we have these much better Lumias right over here?"

Edited 2014-02-24 13:44 UTC

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: Well of course....
by mobileheresy on Mon 24th Feb 2014 16:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Well of course...."
mobileheresy Member since:
2014-01-09

"Why would you buy *ANY* Android phone (since they obviously all stink like this one does) when we have these much better Lumias right over here?"


But why then provide the WP skin?

If the new devices would have homescreen which at least remotely looks like the one on a common Android handset then I would agree.

But this way? One could be tempted to envision some Dilbert story:
- Wally: Let's poison the competitor's product by selling a cheap copy. That'll taint their reputation. That's easier that improving our own stuff.
- Dilbert: But I'm proud of our products!
- PHB: Very well, then make it look like ours! Dilbert, please have the design ready by tomorrow. It's a simple copy&paste anyway...

Reply Score: 5

RE: Well of course....
by bnolsen on Mon 24th Feb 2014 16:36 UTC in reply to "Well of course...."
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

It's probably better to get some super chinese piece of junk with 512MB ram, with something like a tegra2 (dual cortex a9!!!) with a chunk of that 512MB allocated to GPU, stick android 4.1 on it with "android" clearly visible on the interface and use that as a baseline for comparison.

Yeah a tegra2 with 512MB ram is absolutely intolerable with android 4.1.x (I tried it with my viewsonic gtablet).

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Well of course....
by cdude on Mon 24th Feb 2014 21:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Well of course...."
cdude Member since:
2008-09-21

Its just that these chinese devices not run old 4.1 but 4.4. Huge difference because memory-optimizations for low-end to run fluid on dual-core's with 512MB RAM came only with Project Svelte in 4.4 kitkat.

http://www.phonearena.com/news/Android-4.4-KitKat-to-run-comfortabl...

http://www.androidauthority.com/android-4-4-kitkat-project-svelte-d...

and Nokia tries to compete against them with old 4.1 at terrain where that small difference matters most. Why oh why?

Edited 2014-02-24 21:59 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Original name
by Drunkula on Mon 24th Feb 2014 13:49 UTC
Drunkula
Member since:
2009-09-03

Hmm? I seem to remember another maker with a phone also called X. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Original name
by glarepate on Tue 25th Feb 2014 17:21 UTC in reply to "Original name"
glarepate Member since:
2006-01-04

I have one of those.

But you could still be mistaken. (-: JK!

and +1 too.

Edited 2014-02-25 17:22 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Upgrade path?
by skandalfo on Mon 24th Feb 2014 13:55 UTC
skandalfo
Member since:
2010-04-07

Seriously, the main problem I see is still that you cannot get an entry level Nokia X, decide it's good and then decide investing a bit more to go high-range.

Even if they focused the platform on Nokia and Microsoft services, the applications are different; you might move your accounts but you won't have the same third party apps unless every developer does it's job for Windows Phone again. Mail, calendar and contacts will migrate, probably, but what about the rest?

Unless they make the low end grow up and cannibalise Windows Phone, this will be a throw away option for people in a budget not concerned with having a sensible upgrade path.

The only upside I see (for Microsoft and Nokia) could be making their services more popular on mainstream android because of people that started on Nokia X and then decided to move to a higher end android.

Reply Score: 3

looks
by l3v1 on Mon 24th Feb 2014 14:02 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

Maybe it's just me, but I think the best looking image from the phones' pages is the blurred cat-girl on the bold.confident.colourful image and not the phones. Too much bezel. Two low specs (2 cores, low res display/camera) and too much MS-looks.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by TBPrince
by TBPrince on Mon 24th Feb 2014 15:34 UTC
TBPrince
Member since:
2005-07-06

Judging from MS reactions (Belfiore), they had to swallow this project and of course they were not happy, even if Nokia tried to make it easier by providing the whole bunch of Microsoft products, together with their own.

As I said earlier, this project has no meaning and for sure MS will not uphold it when it will finalize its acquisition of Nokia devices. It could be just a prank to MS by Nokia, maybe to test market reaction. As someone else said before I did, announcing it doesn't even mean that they will actually bring such products to the market.

My only speculation is Nokia will use this project to stay in devices business, attempting to use a fork of Android like Amazon did. Their own store, their own services, their own OS, forked when needed. They could get revenues from their own store and by selling their own services (Here, for example), asking others to build devices they design, the same way Apple does.

If that holds true, it is of course very wise to use Android as base OS as there aren't many factories making devices based on WP. That way, they could fulfill that vision by part of their management which wanted Android to be the OS of choice.

I don't know which are terms of MS-Nokia agreement so I cannot be sure that they could do that (maybe their agreement states that Nokia cannot *build* competing devices, not that they cannot *design* them...) however that's the only reason I could think of. Nokia could attempt to be the new Apple, just with lots of patents and lots of engineering skill.

That could also explain rumors about Microsoft striking new important deals with Sony and HTC: were those meant to replace Nokia ?

All in all, considering reactions by people who was able to test such devices (they claim they are slow and confusing) and considering that MS cannot endorse Nokia X(L), this could be a way to test waters and check what happens.

Clever ? Hmm... don't know...

Reply Score: 2

specs
by puenktchen on Mon 24th Feb 2014 18:10 UTC
puenktchen
Member since:
2007-07-27

The specs are just fine for an entry level Android phone. I don't see why browsing etc. should be a pita on these phones if they didn't seriously mess up the software. An the price is right too.

Reply Score: 4

RE: specs
by Morgan on Mon 24th Feb 2014 23:40 UTC in reply to "specs"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

You'd be surprised how little specs matter when the OS is littered with garbage. I have in my collection a Motorola Photon 4G. When it came out it was a fairly robust phone spec-wise; dual core Tegra 2 with 1GB of RAM. However, the steaming pile of crap that is MotoBlur slows the phone to a crawl. It takes over five seconds to go from swiping the unlock graphic to seeing the home screen, and nearly ten seconds to launch the browser.

Just for fun (I'm not using this as my daily phone), I rooted it and ran a "de-Blur" script to back up and remove the MotoBlur software. The difference is night and day; now the phone is actually usable, though still a bit slow at times compared to modern quad core beasts.

I'm wondering if a lot of the performance issues we've been reading about with the Lumia X series has something to do with that custom interface.

Reply Score: 4

They did it for the drivers
by jphamlore on Mon 24th Feb 2014 23:03 UTC
jphamlore
Member since:
2011-02-15

Here's a simple explanation of why Nokia developed an Android-based phone: They did it for the drivers.

Mid-2000s Nokia made a fateful decision that wound up destroying the phone part of the company: They decided to outsource the wireless chipset part of their phones. That's when their former foundry partner Texas Instruments decided to get out of their former close relationship. In 2009, well before Elop got to Nokia, TI projected their wireless chipset line used in Nokia phones was going to go to zero by 2012.

Unfortunately for Nokia, Android happened. And all of those wireless chipset vendors they thought they could rely on to compete against each other for Nokia's business started releasing their drivers only as binary blobs tied to Android, and perhaps even specific versions of Android. Oops.

Reply Score: 5

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Tue 25th Feb 2014 03:57 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

So in other words: another failed product from a failed company which will soon cease to exist.

A story not worth the words

Reply Score: 2

Can't wait
by ThomasFuhringer on Tue 25th Feb 2014 08:17 UTC
ThomasFuhringer
Member since:
2007-01-25

I get the worst of both worlds: those ugly tiles on top of a Java platform

Reply Score: 2

Why would MS cancel this?
by unclefester on Tue 25th Feb 2014 09:44 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

MS has no need to cancel this project. It achieves three goals: 1) an opportunity to further fork/fragment/disrupt Android 2) it gives them a mature OS with a huge range of apps. 3) it is an insurance policy if WP fails.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why would MS cancel this?
by wigry on Tue 25th Feb 2014 10:03 UTC in reply to "Why would MS cancel this?"
wigry Member since:
2008-10-09

Microsoft can generate revenue from countries where WP is too expensive.

Reply Score: 2