This is Nokia X, the Android family you’ve been waiting for

Nokia X

After being the king of mobile kingdom for over decades, Nokia was dethroned when the world entered into the smartphone era. It all started with Apple’s iPhone, that would later become iOS. Then came Android. Google pushed it so hard with a strategy that just couldn’t fail. Suddenly, the market flooded with different sized and speced smartphones running on Android operating system. And for longer than expected, Nokia was nowhere to be seen.

When the Finnish company finally stepped in, it chose to be with Microsoft. The Nokia Lumia series became the icon of Windows Phone in the market. But majority of Nokia fans were already in love with Android. While most did praise the design and solid build quality of Nokia Lumia phones, they did also miss an Android phone from Nokia. However, there were rumours around almost every corner on the internet that Nokia had been planning for an Android phone. So the hopes that someday an Android from Nokia would see the light of day were high.

All your prayers have been answered; not exactly how you wanted it though

However, the hopes were shot down when Microsoft announced that it would acquire Nokia’s smartphone division. An Android phone under Microsoft’s authority became highly unlikely. But then again, the deal is yet to go effective. Nokia has a small window of pushing an Android phone within the first half of this year. And the company, on Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress 2014 did exactly so. Amazing the whole mobile world, the Finnish mobile phone giant announced not one, not two, but three Android phones. And yes, that complied with all the previous rumours we had been hearing of: Nokia X.

This article also appears in Bangla on Android Kothon.

Nokia X

Nokia XIt’s expected that Nokia fans would go all crazy hearing the news that Nokia is presenting the world with three Android phones — named as ‘Nokia X Family’, but hold your breath before you leap up with joy. It might not be what it sounds like. You might actually not want to get a Nokia Android after all.

Running on top of a ‘forked’ version of Android, Nokia X family introduces Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL. Respectively, these phones will cost 89 euro, 99 euro and 109 euro. And the phones are what you’d expect if Nokia’s Asha and Lumia series were to be put together. In fact, Nokia showed us so: “Asha x Lumia = Nokia X!”

Nokia made it clear that these Android phones are ‘low-end’ and targeted at markets where low cost phones have high demand. That being said, the ‘X’ family won’t really appeal much to a wider audience. But if you’re on the lookout for a low cost smartphone from a reputed brand that runs on Android, this may be it (with a high emphasis on ‘may be’). So, what are we dealing with?

Under the Android hood of Nokia

Nobody ever said that Nokia Android will beat all the other Androids in the market. But it sure does bring something new to the table. And that’s UI. A reimagined UI that matches the likes of Windows Phone is now available with Android under the hood. If you ever liked a Lumia phone and wanted the same interface designed by the same folks for Android, this is what you want.

Nokia X and X+ have 8-inch IPS display with a resolution of 800×480 pixels. XL comes with a slightly larger 5-inch display. All three of the phones use Qualcomm Snapdragon 8225 processor that’s clocked at 1 GHz. It’s an ARM Cortex-A5 architecture chip with Adreno 203 GPU. That hints us that this phone is for basic purpose only. Don’t even attempt to compare with any high or mid-range Android phones.

An Android you might not want to use.

Nokia X has a RAM of 512 MB where as X+ anx XL comes with 768 MB RAM. All three of these phones have 4 GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 32 GB with memory card. Nokia X and X+ both comes with 3 MP rear camera with no flash. They don’t have any front camera either. However, if flash or front camera is important to you, you might get Nokia XL which have a 5 MP autofocus camera with flash on the back and a 2 MP secondary camera on the front.

All three phones of the Nokia X family have basic WiFi, GPS and dual-SIM features. Nokia X and X+ uses a 1500 mAh battery which Nokia claims to provide 1 month backup as stand-by and 10 hour talk time on 3G network. Nokia XL is said to have a larger batter thus producing longer backup, but specifics were not revealed about its battery.

The main story: Android

Nokia XNow comes the most interesting part of Nokia X: Android. That is what all the bells and whistles are about, right? So what does it bring to the table? In simple terms, Nokia has come up with a new type of mobile operating system based off Android. In technical term, it’s known as ‘forked’. Amazon uses a ‘forked’ Android on its Kindle Fire tablets. Nokia has chosen the same path. The X platform, as Nokia calls it, is essentially an Android minus all things Google. That means, it is Android, and it might be able to run apk files as well, but it lacks Google Play Store and all the Google apps that are otherwise core features of Android.

Nokia X uses Nokia’s own App Store, clearly to control the ecosystem of the phone. But there’s a good news. You will be able to sideload other marketplace apps just like you can on Kindle Fire. Nokia also tells us that users can also ‘root’ Nokia X, which is a big plus point for developers and custom ROM users alike, but it comes with a cost — as usual — of voiding warranty. Nokia says while most top-tier Android apps will be available on Nokia’s app store, if it isn’t found there, Nokia will provide a link to other supported App Stores to download the app from. As of now, two of such app stores are Russian ‘Yandex’ and China’s ‘OneMobile’.

Getting back to the Android part, we were frustrated to know that Nokia forked ‘Android 4.1.2’ Jelly Bean to develop for the X. It’s reasonable, provided that we’ve been hearing for over a year that Nokia is working for an Android phone previously known as Normandy. But we also know that Android’s latest version 4.4 KitKat is announced to be compatible with low hardware — even with just 512 MB of RAM. Perhaps it is too soon for Nokia to build on top of KitKat for it hasn’t been that long since KitKat was officially announced? Who knows. Will it receive updates in the future based on Android’s latest versions? Again, who knows.

The performance drop was noticed by almost every reporter at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress who got a chance to spend some time with Nokia X. It was reported to be extremely laggy and slow. If Nokia had been working on this for as long as it appears (since it uses 4.1.2), it should have been able to optimize the OS to better work on these low-end phones. But Nokia kind of failed. Unless the performance is better on the end devices, the X project will undoubtedly soon turn into a flop project.

Drop of hopes

নোকিয়া এক্স

The internet, as of now, is full of frustrations over how Nokia X finally turned out to be. Nobody expected it to compete with Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One, but everyone expected at least a decent phone. Is Nokia X decent for the price it’ll be sold at? It all comes down to performance. If the ‘stock ROM’ keeps lagging and have slow and sluggish performance, all blames will not just be on Android, but also on Nokia. True that XDA developers will come up with cleaner and more optimized ROMs for the X, but then again, how many ‘average’ people would risk losing their warranty just for better performance?

Your friend will see your stock X. Notice the sluggish performance. Know that it could be fixed by voiding the warranty. And he is then most likely to look for the next option in his list. This may be how the market reacts to Nokia’s Android phone.

If Nokia X was released a year ago, it would have been a big deal for the price point. But phone manufacturers are aware of the growing market of low-cost affordable smartphones, and Nokia still can capture that market only if the phones perform better than they did at Mobile World Congress 2014.

What do you think of Nokia X? Will it actually be able to appeal to the mass? Or will its slow and sluggish performance prove the ‘X’ family to be a flop?

This article also appears in Bangla on Android Kothon.

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