Microsoft recently killed the Nokia X experiment. The company won’t manufacture new Android handsets. However, the existing products will continue to get the service and software support.
The Nokia XL is among the first wave of Android phones made by Nokia – a company whose strong ties to Windows Phone until now stopped it from making phones using Google’s OS.
BUILD & DESIGN
On first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking the Nokia XL is a Lumia phone. It’s colourful, it’s made of plastic and it looks a bit like the Lumia 625. However, Nokia’s Lumia phones run Windows Phone where the Nokia XL uses Android. Much like the Asha handsets, the XL has sharp angles and straight lines. The phone comes with swappable back shells that are available in multiple colours such as Green, Orange, Cyan, Yellow, Black, and White.
The phone features a microSD and two micro SIM card slots. All of them are placed under the battery cover. The phone has a single hardware button for UI navigation. The volume rocker and Lock button are on the right-hand side, which is a standard key placement for recent Nokia phones.
In terms of specs the Nokia XL arrives with a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 768MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, 5MP rear camera and a 2MP front facing snapper. Considering the price it’s not a bad setup, and the low internal storage can be boosted by a microSD card, plus the Nokia XL comes with dual-SIM capabilities.
The build and feel of the phone is better than most low-cost Androids, although we wouldn’t say it feels any fancier than the Motorola Moto G, our current favourite cheapest Android phone. You’ll also notice that the controls are quite different from Nokia’s Lumia phones. There’s no camera button here – you use the touchscreen instead – and there’s just one soft key rather than three. It acts as a home/back button.
The phone runs Nokia X software platform 1.0, which is based on AOSP (Android Open Source Project). The Nokia X runs a heavily customised version of Android 4.1.2, and it looks nothing like normal Android. It borrows heavily from Windows Phone, using a home screen of tiles that show everything on your phone. The software lacks the polish and elegance of the Windows Phone platform.
There’s another side of the interface too. Fastlane is a scroll of your recently used apps and phones features. This part of the phone seems to be there to help out if your Nokia X homescreen. General navigation around the Nokia XL tends to be smooth, but although it isn’t the slickest of operators – considering its price point these are things I can just about accept.
There are some serious limitations to Nokia’s approach to Android, though. There are none of the official Google apps most Android owners rely on, and no access to the Google Play app store. Leaving out these basics used to be pretty common in non-certified budget tablets, but it’s rare for them to be left out of phones.
Nokia X offers a bunch of Nokia and Microsoft apps, such as the Here navigation suite and OneDrive online storage. You also get a handful of other pre-installed apps including BBM, Skype and few games. You can also sideload your own Android apps.
While there’s nothing cutting-edge about the XL, and it’s riddled with price-driven compromises, it’s not a terrible handset. Many of its faults would not be an issue for kids, cash-strapped students and those who want a basic smartphone. With the XL, you get what you pay for.