Nokia is really making an Android smartphone.
Today, Nokia announced the Nokia X, a smartphone running Android that will run the full gamut of Android apps. The Nokia X and the Nokia X+ which are 4-inch smartphones with 512 MB of RAM, a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a 1,500 mAh battery. The Nokia X+ will allow for expandable memory slot up to 32 GB. Nokia will start shipping the Nokia X for €89 (without a contract or subsidy, before local taxes) to dozens of countries across the world starting the week of March 3rd. The Nokia X+ will ship early in the second quarter for €99.
Nokia also announced the Nokia XL, a 5-inch version of the Nokia X and will be available in early second quarter for €109.
Isn’t Nokia tied to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system? Yes, it is. But as Microsoft has made clear several times, Nokia is still technically a private company (the acquisition will likely become final this quarter) and can do as it wants.
The Nokia X is built off of the Android Open Source Project version 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. That means that it will run any Android apps compatible with that version of the operating system (and up). Android apps will be available to consumers through either the Nokia Store or through third-party app stores like GetJar or Yandex. Nokia X users will also be allowed to “sideload” apps by installing Android application package files (APKs) directly from developers.
Nokia also announced the Nokia 220 for €29, a feature phone that can connect to Facebook and Twitter, along with the Nokia Asha 230, a new entry in the company’s Asha portfolio that incorporates aspects of the Windows Phone user interface (two home screens, Lumia-quality build) for €45. Both phones also ship starting the week of March 3rd in emerging markets across the world like China, Thailand Indonesia and India.
The Nokia X won’t be released in North America. Japan and Korea are also left out of the mix.
Two Home Screens, One Button
The Nokia X only has one button. It is a back button that serves as the de facto Home button as well as a way to back out of apps, menus and the home screen.
As for the home screens on the Nokia X, there are only two (the same as Windows Phone). First there is a Tiles-like home screen with apps and functions. Second is what Nokia calls “Fast Lane 2.0” The Fast Lane home screen is a place to see recent app activity, messages and notifications. If you get a text from your mother, it will show in Fast Lane next to the activity from the app you opened last. Fast Lane also has a stick, semi-permanent menu on top that shows of stuff like Calendar invites and contacts.
The reason that Nokia’s Android smartphone is called “X” because it is a crossover of Android apps, Nokia product design and the Microsoft cloud.
Technically, Nokia won’t list Android as the operating system of the Nokia X. In the spec sheet, the operating system is the ”Nokia X Software Platform.” That being said, the Nokia X is running Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2. The difference for the Nokia X is that it doesn’t use Google’s core mobile services, which feature prominently on many Android smartphones.
Instead of Google services like Gmail, Calendar, Drive and Maps, Nokia has replaced all of the core Google mobile apps with the likes of HERE Maps, its own calendar, Outlook, Skype and OneDrive. In certain markets, Microsoft is offering a month of free calls to landlines through Skype and 10 Gb of data in OneDrive. Essentially, Nokia has released a phone that can download just about any Android app but ties directly to Microsoft’s cloud and core functionality.