As a concept, the Nokia X is something we have long been waiting for. It was quite worrying that such an established brand like Nokia had their hands tied when it came to choosing a winning OS for their smartphones. It’s no secret that Windows Phone had been weighing the giant mobilephone player down for quite sometime. While all those teething issues might be a thing of the past soon with Windows Phone 8.1 and Universal Windows apps, their budget segment has been completely chaotic.
The Nokia X was not made to compete with the best out there. It is the exact opposite of a flagship - low-cost hardware delivering reasonable performance at a bargain price. No Google services but Nokia's and Microsoft's instead. No Google Play Store but plenty of Android apps in the Nokia and other stores. No Android level of customization but a blend of Lumia and Asha simplicity. It's Android like you never seen it before. Intrigued?
Design and Build
The Nokia X resembles the Asha 501 a lot in terms of its design language and aesthetics - it is a typical rectangular slab with sharper-than-average corners and excellent build quality and it feels a lot cheaper than its current pricing. The rear flap also tries to protect the camera bump. But the one big difference in comparison to Android phones is that there is just one back button under the screen, like in the Asha series. And this is not exactly a Home button and that has a considerable impact on the way you use this phone.
The X range comes in a lovely range of colours with the basic X is available in black, white, cyan, yellow, bright red and the bright green, which is especially striking. The slightly higher spec X+ shares the same palette while the larger XL swaps the red for an even nicer orange colour.
If you didn’t know this was an Android phone from Nokia, you would have thought it was a fake Chinese version of the Lumia. This phone OS does not look like any Android phone you have ever seen. Nokia has tried to bring in the Lumia design language into the phone and you have a tile-based interface that is many notches below what you find on the Lumia 525 for instance. So this Android phone actually looks more like a Windows phone. The device enables users to add apps to the homescreen and make some basic tweaks to the entire look and feel.
The Nokia X is not going to blow you away with its design and would probably be lost in the crowd were it not for the bright colours. It’s built well like any other Nokia and the customisation options will sit well with its target audience.
Nokia X draws inspiration from Lumia 525 and its Nokia's cheapest current Windows Phone offering. Nokia X comes with modest hardware under the hood. It is powered by a 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 512MB RAM. It comes with 4GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 32GB via microSD card.
The Nokia X user interface is mainly divided into two homescreens - Fastlane and app launcher. The app launcher borrows its look from the Windows Phone Start screen and features tiles for launching apps. The same screen supports Android widgets as well, but adding widgets makes it messy and inconsistent. Unlike Windows Phone, the tiles are not live tiles, but select native apps such as the Calendar and Gallery app offer more than just static icons.
The phone offers dual sim with support for 3G data on the first sim. You'll only be able to use one sim at a time for voice calls.
The hardware might be derivative, but the software is all new. We've been dying to get our hands on Nokia's flavour of Android, and we can finally get into more detail than we managed in our quick preview during the Nokia X launch event.
The lock screen shows the time and date as well as recent notifications. The status bar, which shows battery, Wi-Fi, signal strength and other indicators, is also visible. If you have music playing, you'll see the track name and controls instead of the day and date. Swiping on a notification will take you directly to its app, as it should.
The interface seems optimised for weak hardware, and thankfully animations are short and sweet. Swiping to either side of the lock screen brings you to the home screen, which has a passing similarity to the Windows Phone home screen.
Nokia X sports a 3MP fixed focus rear camera and doesn't include an LED flash. Camera resolution is 2048 x 1536 pixels with minimum focus range of 50 cm. The camera is functional at best and takes very average quality pictures in daylight and grainy, noise-infested pictures in low light conditions and indoors. The lack of an LED flash makes it almost impossible to shoot pictures in dimly lit conditions.
- Quad-band GSM, GPRS, EDGE
- Dual-band 3G with HSPA
- Optional dual-SIM support, dual standby
- Nokia X software platform 1.0, based on the Android Open Source Project
- 4" IPS LCD WVGA capacitive touchscreen, ~233 ppi
- 1.0 GHz dual-core Cortex-A5 processor, Adreno 203 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8225 Snapdragon S4 Play chipset
- 512MB RAM
- Proximity sensor, accelerometer, display auto-rotation
- 4GB internal storage (1.2GB available to the user)
- Nokia HERE maps with free lifetime voice-guided navigation and offline maps support
- Data-efficient Nokia Xpress browser
- Nokia MixRadio
- Nokia Glance screen, double-tap-to-unlock
- 3.15 MP camera, FWVGA video recording @30fps
- microSD card support (up to 32 GB)
- Wi-Fi b/g/n connectivity
- FM radio
- Bluetooth v3.0
- Standard microUSB port, charging
- 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery
The absence of Google services is surely a deal-breaker for those hoping to get the pure Android experience on a Nokia phone. Of course, the Nokia and Microsoft's alternatives are there: HERE Maps and Navigation (instead of Google Maps), OneDrive (instead of Google Drive), Nokia Mail (instead of Gmail), Nokia Store (instead of Google Play). Ultimately, you won't be able to sync your Google Contacts and Calendar but Nokia pushing its own agenda is hardly a surprise.
I'm sure its a device you will enjoy...