In the first big announcement of this year’s Mobile World Congress, Nokia came clean about the largest open-secret in the mobile world: yes, it is going Android.
The Nokia X, X+ and XL are not the Android phones we’re used to seeing, however. Rather, they are built using Android open-source software, so what is running is something that looks a bit like Windows Phone, pulls in bits of Nokia’s own Asha OS, but can handle Android apps.
You might be able to raid the Play Store, but Microsoft is still very much the boss. Nokia needed to make this move, but there has been debate as to why Microsoft would allow it to happen – now we know. As Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said: “Nokia X is a gateway to Microsoft”. Despite being “Android” phones, the X, X+ and XL come with Skype, Onedrive (previously SkyDrive) and Outlook pre-installed.
Everything is uploaded to Microsoft’s cloud, not Google’s, allowing Microsoft to “reach people it has never talked to, all around the world.”
And the Microsoft influence is immediately evident. From the start screen on, the experience looks and feels like a town-centre market knock-off of the Windows Phone OS. Windows Phone has its problems, but lord knows it looks slick. This… doesn’t. It’s hard to pin down exactly what the problem it, but one can’t shake the overriding feeling that its neither one thing nor another.
Nokia is a great brand, has produced some of the best handsets of the last couple of years (the Lumia line is uniformly excellent) and moving away from Windows Phone is essential to its survival. However (and granted this is based on a very brief play) this OS just doesn’t appear to work.
Like a pitiful, mewling, two-headed piglet born to a confused ewe, there’s a big curiosity factor, but it might have been better to apply a swing of the shovel and bury the wretched beast behind the shed, only to be talked about at bad-tempered family gatherings.
But its early days.
And so to the phones themselves:
The Nokia X has a 4-inch IPS capacitive display and three-megapixel camera. It will retail at EUR 89.
The Nokia X+ is “optimised for multimedia enthusiasts”…basically, it has a more memory and increased storage. It will retail at EUR 99. Both the X and X+ are available in bright green, bright red, cyan, yellow, black and white.
The Nokia XL is larger at 5-inches, has a two-megapixel front-facing camera, and five-megapixel rear snapper. It too, is available in a variety of garish colours and will sell for EUR 109.
The whole Nokia X family has Snapdragon dual-core processors and dual SIM support.
The X will go on sale immediately in several territories including Europe. The X+ and XL will launch in April.
SIDENOTE: Look at those names. X, X+ and XL. Remind you of anyone else? *Cough* HTC *cough*.