In our review of the pioneering Nokia X nearly a month ago, we said
we were uncertain of the Android-based platform's future. Considering
the fact that Microsoft was, at the time, just about to gain complete
control over the Finnish phonemaker, it seemed odd that the software
giant would embrace something fundamentally dependent on its biggest
Since then, the Microsoft-Nokia acquisition has
been finalised, and not only has the Nokia XL been launched, but
rumours of an improved second-generation Nokia X line are growing
stronger. On the other hand, the Nokia X has received a hefty price cut
and is already selling for around 25 percent less than its initial
Despite its obvious shortcomings, there's definitely
a place in the market for the Nokia X, even with strong new competition
in the form of the Motorola Moto E. Things aren't quite as clear when
it comes to the Nokia XL, a larger and more expensive variation of the
X. In terms of features and specifications, the two are almost
identical, which means the XL is at a disadvantage in a market already
crowded with relatively modern Android and even Windows Phone devices.
Nokia X line was meant to sit below the Lumias and attract entry-level
customers to the Nokia brand, in the hope that they would someday
graduate to a more expensive device. However, the XL is more expensive
than the Lumia 525 and is just about the same price as the brand new
Lumia 630 Dual SIM. Interestingly, while the 630 is a bit more powerful, it
doesn't have a front camera, flash, or some of the other niceties that
the XL does. We'll examine this curious state of affairs along with our
evaluation of the XL on its own merits.
Look and feel
Nokia XL is a magnified version of the Nokia X in every way. It has
exactly the same proportions, lines and angles, and is even available in
the same retina-scalding palette of primary colours. The main
differences are the addition of a flash on the rear panel and a camera
on the front. The only other changes are inconsequentially minor: the
3.5mm headset socket is in the centre of the top edge rather than to one
side, and the speaker grille has evolved from a small patch to a long
There's still only a single capacitive button on the front
face, and it's still not backlit. The front-facing camera sits next to
the Nokia logo, leaving the rest of the front pretty bare. There are no
status or charging indicators, but Nokia has included its Glance screen
tech which lets you see the time and notification alerts even when the
phone is in standby.
The power and volume buttons are on the right
side, and the left edge is blank as is the case with most Nokias now.
The brightly coloured shell extends around the sides of the phone
itself, giving the front face a distinct border, but also adding bulk.
Beneath the shell, you'll see the removable battery and slots for two
Micro-SIM cards and a microSD card.
The XL is pretty hefty and
unwieldy. The hard corners are even more of a problem than they were on
the X because you'll need to stretch to reach the corners of the larger
screen with your thumbs. At 190g, this phone is noticeably heavier than
nearly everything else of its size on the market today.
quality is absolutely top-notch. The Nokia XL's finish is just as good
as that of any of the more expensive Lumias. You won't see rough edges
or cheap materials anywhere. The white and black variants actually feel
Specifications and features
If you were
hoping that Nokia would redefine value at this price point, you'll be
disappointed. The Nokia XL is built around a rather arthritic Qualcomm
Snapdragon S4 Play processor; a two year old dual-core model that runs
at 1GHz. There's 768MB of RAM; a paltry 256MB improvement over the Nokia
X. There's 4GB of internal storage space, of which less than 2GB is
available to users. You'll have to buy a microSD card, and at least the
XL supports capacities up to 32GB.
The screen measures 5 inches
across diagonally, compared to its smaller sibling's 4-inch screen. It
doesn't sound like a huge difference, but it is. Sadly, the screen's
resolution wasn't scaled up with its size, so it's still the same
800x480 grid, except that it looks a whole lot worse. This works out to
186.6 pixels per inch, which is the lowest density we've seen in a very
long time - most phones around this price range and especially this
screen size are at least 960x540, if not 1280x720.
adequate - the XL supports 3G data only on the primary SIM, but there's
also Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0. There are a few sensors - an
accelerometer, proximity sensor and ambient light sensor - but nothing
The software is identical to that on the Nokia X, which
you can read about in great detail here. Android fans will find a lot of
familiar sights below the surface and it's all still fairly easy to
use, but the Nokia XL is ultimately limited by the underpowered
hardware. The single back/home button is also still annoying, as is the
somewhat unpredictability of whether you'll end up on the home screen or
Nokia's Fastlane screen of notifications and recently used apps. There
are also no shortcuts and no dock for frequently used apps such as the
phone dialler. Of course you're free to customise the experience and
experiment with grafting on the missing parts of the Android experience.
excellent Mix Radio and Here maps are complemented by a large number of
preloaded apps and games: Bookmyshow, Facebook, Twitter, PicsArt,
Plants vs Zombies, Danger Dash, Bejeweled 2, Astro File Manager, Opera,
Vine, BBM, WeChat, NewsHunt and Sony Liv, amongst others.
Cleanup app shows you a list of recently used applications that you can
close with a single tap, as well as a display of the amount of RAM
currently used. It's nice to have since there's no other way to switch
between running apps or close them.
The Nokia XL
performed very slightly better in our tests than its smaller sibling
did, which is probably down to the marginal increase in the amount of
RAM available. Since all other hardware is the same, there's nothing
else we can attribute this result to. That's still not saying much, as
both sets of scores are amongst the lowest we have on record.
interface is quite laggy, but we didn't see quite as many "Please wait"
screens as we did on the Nokia X. There still isn't much hope for video
playback, though. Even 720p videos were laggy to the point of being
unwatchable. Audio was loud enough, but not clear.
We had no
problem with call quality, though there was at least one place in which
3G reception dropped out and we were forced to fall back on EDGE even
when other phones on the same network were fine. Battery life was
extremely disappointing - the Nokia XL lasted just 4 hours, 35 minutes
when looping a video, which makes us uncertain whether it can even
survive a full day of moderate usage without needing a recharge.
all its other shortcomings, the Nokia XL has a fantastic camera. It's
almost unbelievable how good our test photos were. In daylight, images
were crisp and accurate without any clue that they had been taken with a
low-end phone. The camera had a bit of trouble judging exposure levels
in tricky scenes with light and dark elements, but other than that the
results were fantastic. Low-light shots came out quite well, but the
flash was a bit disappointing, and gave photos a somewhat artificial
You can set the contrast, sharpness, saturation, ISO and
white balance, and there's also automatic face detection,
touch-to-focus, and a few simple colour filters. We were impressed to
see options for exposure metering and manual focus control, though these
are buried in the settings menu. The front camera is also pretty good,
but you have far less control over it.
(Click to see full size)
Photos are taken at
1600x1200 by default, but the resolution can go up to 2592x1944, and
there's also a wide aspect ratio 1920x1080 option. Picture quality is
set to "superfine" by default, which explains the sharpness and low
levels of noise. You can also choose between H.264, H.263 and MPEG4
encoding for videos, for some reason, but videos are recorded at the
pointlessly low resolution of 352x288 unless you change this manually.
that was just about acceptable from a phone costing Rs. 8,500 is more
than disappointing from a phone that costs Rs. 11,500. Not only has
Nokia acknowledged that the original X was overpriced, but fresh
competition in the form of the Moto E has made it even tougher to
recommend. That means the Nokia XL is even worse value right now.
you get a big screen, but it's comically low-resolution and there's no
advantage to it whatsoever unless you really love the Nokia X platform
and have poor eyesight or extremely large fingers. The flash and front
camera are also nice to have, but definitely not worth the premium.
all its charms, we cannot recommend the Nokia XL, simply because there
are far better phones at its price in the market today - one of which is
Nokia's own Lumia 630. In a battle between the two, the XL would have
the better cameras and potential compatibility with Android apps, but
the Lumia 630 would tie or win on pretty much every other count,
including performance, battery life, screen quality, construction
quality, ease of use, practicality, and weight.
On the Android
side of the fence, the Moto E is cheaper and the Moto G is only slightly
more expensive. There's also the Lenovo S660, Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2,
Sony Xperia E1 and HTC Desire 210, plus a whole raft of choices from
The Nokia XL's only saving grace is that some
people value large screens above everything else. We expect a hefty
price cut down the line, so even if you're tempted now, we'd suggest
Nokia XL Dual SIM in pictures