was anything but a well-kept secret, and when it made its global debut
at the Mobile World Congress last month, we already knew nearly
everything there was to know about it. Still, there were a few details
we wanted to clear up about the Nokia X, and we had our chance today at
the India launch event.
Nokia India's Marketing Director, Viral
Oza, and Head of Channel Development, Joyce Ray, introduced the new
Nokia X and gave a live demonstration, following which we got our own
hands on the device. The Nokia X is available from today at Rs. 8,599
plus VAT (which will vary between states), while its siblings, the X+
and XL will launch sometime in April.
The Nokia X is surprisingly
lightweight, but feels solid in the hand. It's much more like the most
recent Asha models than any Lumia, although it's being positioned as a
"feeder" that will help attract users to Lumia models. The colours,
shape, and even the lone back/home button on the front panel are
extremely reminiscent of the Asha 501.
The Nokia X is a dual-SIM
phone with a removable back panel and battery. There's not much to see
around the edges, apart from a volume rocker and power button on the
right edge, 3.5mm headset jack on top, and Micro-USB socket on the
bottom. The rear panel is blank apart from a small camera lens, with no
The screen is decent enough, considering the
phone's price. It takes a few seconds to become familiar with the
conventions of the new UI, but anyone who's used a modern smartphone
will quickly feel at home. Nokia's trademark Glance screen shows you the
time and notifications for missed events even when the backlight is off
and the device is in standby mode. A long press on the power button
brings it to life.
Upon unlocking the phone, you'll see a main
menu that can be scrolled quite a bit. The menu is customisable, but
there doesn't seem to be a way to dock frequently required icons, such
as the dialler and messages app. There are multiple sections to this
long menu. In addition to app icons, there's a widget showing upcoming
calendar appointments. Icons can also be clustered into groups with
space between them, rather than flowing in one continuous mass.
Nokia X is built using the Android Open Source Project, and as such is
not certified by Google, which means that there's no Google Play store,
and in fact no apps that are based on Google's APIs will work. You won't
find any of the usual Android apps, including Google Maps. Nokia is
happy to promote its own Here! Maps app, complete with voice directions.
Rather than Google's mail, storage and messaging features, you'll find
equivalent services from Microsoft.
A number of "key apps" come
preloaded, including Skype, Viber, Vine, Opera Mini, Facebook, BBM,
Twitter, WeChat, and a number of games from EA and Gameloft. The Nokia
Store app will point you to Android apps from a variety of third-party
sources. You can also sideload your own Android APKs or use third part
stores such as Yandex, Amazon, Opera, and Mobango.
Nokia says over
three quarters of all Android apps will work perfectly, and for those
that don't, only the parts that specifically require Google API tie-ins
will be affected. The app store won't filter out such apps by default,
so it isn't clear yet whether users will be warned about what to expect.
It also isn't clear how apps will work with the Nokia X control scheme,
which uses only a single interface button rather than the usual three
found on Android devices.
Scrolling and swiping through the
interface is fast and natural, but apps do take their own sweet time to
load. We didn't try anything other than extremely light gaming, and that
seemed good enough. The browser is fairly full featured, and the camera
app is easy to use.
There's an activity feed you can access by
swiping to the right from the main menu. It's much like the
notifications shade in other operating systems, and also includes quick
music playback controls. You can tap a message to reply to it, and also
personalise it according to what kind of notifications you want to see.
UI is well designed and feels coherent, with little details getting the
attention they deserve. If you notice a small bar right at the bottom
and in the centre of the screen, it means you can flick upwards to get
to a list of options that apply to the current app or view.
only confusing part is the back/home button which doesn't always do
what's expected. Tapping it lightly seems to take a user through a
number of screens that might have been open before, not necessarily the
ones he or she just used in the order he or she used them. A long-tap
takes you back to the home screen. It might have been simpler to
separate these functions, like Android does, or use on-screen navigation
controls, as iOS does.
Overall, the Nokia X is an intriguing
product. Nokia has had to make a lot of careful choices when it comes to
the device's features and specifications, in order to keep the price
down. Most people will bemoan the relatively weak processor and camera,
but these were necessary to position the X below even the Lumia 520.
Since it's widely known that this phone runs Android, Nokia will also
have to overcome user confusion at the lack of an official app store.
the company can take care of those things, it might find a lot of
people flocking to the Nokia X and its siblings, largely because of a
lack of high-quality products from known, trusted brands in its price
range. Finally, with Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia practically
complete, it remains to be seen whether the combined entity will support
the Android-based platform even as it competes with Windows Phone, or
whether it will only be a short-term stopgap, and end up as a footnote
Nokia X Android phone in pictures