Just a few days back, Nokia announced their foray into building Android phones, with the announcement of the Nokia X family of phones. They launched the Nokia X, X+ and XL which range in cost from €89 (≈ Rs. 7600) to €109 (≈ Rs. 9300).
Nokia X Platform
These devices run on a forked version of Android Jellybean 4.1.2. Even though this phone runs on Android, it’s not Google certified, which means that you won’t get any of the services from Google, including the Play Store. Instead Nokia provides their own App Store to get your apps, and they integrate with Microsoft’s services to get you going. This is not a surprising move, considering that Nokia is in the process of merging with Microsoft.
Even the interface of the phone resembles a mashup between Windows Phone and Nokia’s Asha. The home screen contains tiled icons similar to Windows Phones and the Nokia X also has a Fast Lane interface like Asha has.
But why a mashup of Android, Nokia and Microsoft services?
One of the reasons could be that the Windows Phone platform is still lacking a lot of apps which are available for Android, Nokia can now release a low-end phone which can run most apps which people expect to run on a phone.
The other reason could be because the Windows Phone eco-system requires manufacturers to adhere to some standards while building the phone. This prevents the cost of the phone from going lower than it is currently. It’s only last week that Microsoft announced that the next version of Windows Phone allows lower spec devices to join the Windows Phone family.
There were also rumors floating around Microsoft was planning on providing Android app compatilibity in their next version of Windows Phones. This ties in well with the Nokia X platform.
Why forgo Google Services? Nokia & Microsoft still want people to upgrade to their premium Lumia or other Windows Phones. Giving users an Android phone which integrates Microsoft Servies could reduce the upgrade friction and at the same time pulls bring new users to the Microsoft services fold.
Nokia X Phone Family Specs
The three devices are powered by Qualcomm MSM8225 Snapdragon S4 Play chipset. Nokia X and X+ dont have a front facing camera, while the XL comes with one. X & XL+ feature a 4 inch IPS LED screen, while the XL comes with a bigger 5 inch screen. The phones are Dual-SIM devices (with Single SIM models in some regions).
Here’s a table showing the specs of the the devices:
Nokia X comes with Nokia’s services like Here Maps and Mix Radio, and also features Microsoft services like OneDrive and Skype.
Nokia X also comes with a range of third-party apps preinstalled like BBM, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Viber, Vine and Twitter. You also get the Swiftkey Keyboard for free. You can find more apps from the Nokia Store or from third-party stores like Amazon App Store, GetJar, Slide Me and more. If you have the apk files for apps handy, you can side load those as well.
Not all apps from the Google Play store will work on Nokia X, especially ones which integrate with Google APIs to work. Nokia estimates that around 75% of the apps on the Play Store should work on this platform and that most of the remaining ones would require minor modifications to run on the Nokia X devices.
Nokia X Platform for developers
Apps which require Maps, Notifications and in-app purchases are the those which won’t work straight from the Google Play store. Apps which don’t use these features should work without any change and the developers can upload the apk files directly to the Nokia Store.
For these developers will have to port to use Nokia services via the Nokia X Platform SDK. The Nokia X platform provides alternates to like Here Maps, Nokia Notifications and Nokia in-app payments for apps to use these features. When developers complete porting apps over to this platform, they can Nokia’s Remote Device Access service to test the app out on actual handsets.
Nokia also offers a tool for developers to check for App compatibility. All the developer (or a power user) has to do is to head to the Nokia X App Compatilbity page and upload the application’s apk file, and the tool tells you whether the app will work on Nokia X devices.