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.

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Comment by wigry
by wigry on Mon 24th Feb 2014 12:21 UTC
Member since:

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 in reply to "Comment by wigry"
moondevil Member since:

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

Reply Parent Score: 3

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

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 Parent Score: 3

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

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 Parent Score: 3

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

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, just no".

Reply Parent Score: 3