Attacking from the bottom: why Nokia's Android-powered phones make sense

Today, at the start of Mobile World Congress, Nokia made it official. They are building Android-powered phones. I’m not going to rehash all of the data or walk you through the basics of the phone since that’s already been covered in-depth quite well today.

While some at Microsoft may be embarrassed by what Nokia is doing, I can see how it’s a smart move that will help.

First, let’s consider that these phones are targeted towards growth markets, which is just a different way of saying they are cheaper phones for less-wealthy countries. There are really only two options for price sensitive buyers: Android or Windows Phone. Because of the ecosystem and variety on the low end, Android is winning, while Nokia has started to play in this playground with its lower-priced Lumia phones — the Lumia 520 is the predominant reason Nokia holds such a commanding lead in Windows Phone marketshare.

But this move by Nokia will give potential customers of the Nokia X and X+, and the bigger Nokia XL most of the benefits of the app selection on Android while still presenting a very an experience that looks a lot like Windows Phone.

Nokia has done a nice job of unifying the way the phone looks to a user, no matter what whether it runs their forked version of the Android Open Source Project or Windows Phone. And since both Android and Windows versions of its phones will be backed up by Microsoft cloud services, thats another level of consistency. The goal here is to hook customers with a cheap device — the Nokia X series — and lure them up the device chain the the more expensive, and presumably more profitable, Lumia series Windows Phones.

Microsoft needs to win with the low-priced market, and it’s been on the right track so far with the cheaper Lumia products. I think these Android phones give Nokia and Microsoft more ammunition to capture that next billion smartphone users.

 
There are 72 comments

BigTex says:

Agreed!

Paola1993 says:

The ugliest phone of the decade.

Posted via Android Central App

I think you meant to post this in the S5 article.....

Posted from my Nexus 5

Paola1993 says:

Is this supposed to be funny? Because we clearly know the S5 is not ugliest phone of the decade.

Posted via Android Central App

It's definitely trying.

Posted via Android Central App

Jack Larson1 says:

Lol

coenox says:

+1 At least Nokia is far more original en daring in comparison with Samsung at het moment

TenshiNo says:

lol

DJCBS says:

+1

tmiller679 says:

-1

Posted via HTC One on Sprint

thatguy97 says:

+1 ha now zero

Sent from my Nexus 7 2013 or iPhone 5

drokssilva says:

Actually it would be 1

-------------------------------------------------------
Sent from inside a cave. Yes, T-Mobile covers caves. N5

Pseu says:

÷ 0

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someguy01234 says:

CANNOT DIVIDE BY ZERO.

ki11ak3nn says:

x 0??

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gierso says:

Yes you can .. You get an error, because its undef.
Or it gets infinite?? Which is the contrary of what pseu tried to achieve :P

My answer is (and)^0 -1

chmun77 says:

Nope. It is looking fine. Refreshing UI, unlike the typical iconic UI from Android.

jdbii says:

Thank you very much for the simple yet straight forward article.

saltyzip says:

Except the Nokia X phone apps will mostly be missing in the windows app store, might not be such an palatable upgrade to a Lumia. I hope these phones are a mega fail, anything that fragments Android further needs to be sent to room 101.

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jimbo says:

Perhaps, just perhaps the combined intelligence at Nokia and Microsoft exceeds yours.

DJCBS says:

Intelligence has been running low on Microsoft lately, though...

Jay Holm says:

Lately has been quite a while!

I don't use, or acknowledge the word ""troll"".

I'm sure if saltyzip had bet his company's future on a failing attempt to use monopoly power to bolster a way, way, late entry into a different space, and was sufficiently desparate, he would have been quite intelligent enough to come up with this hail Mary gambit. It's not that it's stupid - just desparate.

Morten Lund says:

Well rumors are that Microsoft is trying to do something similar to BB with an Android runtime for WP. Could mean that X apps could later be ported to WP.

gregmcph says:

No it doesn't. You say it does, but it doesn't.
When MS takes full control of Nokia, they'll just say "huh. no". And that's the end of it.
A sensible strategy is WP high to low end. Or Forked Android High to Low end.
This is a dead end.

What makes this in any way attractive? The lack of an OS licencing fee? Does that shave $10 off the price? Once MS takes over, that disappears. The OS costs zero in both cases. And now you have the added cost of maintaining two OSes (Three with Symbian/Asha?).

It's not going to give users the app library of Android. Just selected conversions in an App Store that not many developers are going to think is worth the trouble. And then what does that mean for High End Nokia users? Are they punished by using Windows Phone? Why can't they have a good app collection? Maybe they should go buy high end Android phones.

thatguy97 says:

+100000

Sent from my Nexus 7 2013 or iPhone 5

÷1000

Posted via Stock Nexus 4*

someguy01234 says:

^3

DJCBS says:

Microsoft will never take full control of Nokia. Actually they're not taking ANY control of Nokia. They're just buying the employees that made Nokia's devices and services division. Nokia will remain an independent company and retain not only the HERE services but also their R&D teams as well as their entire patent portfolio.

Here's the deal: Microsoft isn't able to convince developers to develop for Windows Phone. Nokia has been doing a gargantuan work in that field. Microsoft will NOT do it. So, basically, once Nokia leaves the mobile phone business and their D&S employees move to Microsoft, that work will stop. But Microsoft still needs apps in the Windows Phone store.
And because lately there have been rumours that Microsoft was considering allowing Android Apps into Windows Phone (like BlackBerry), having this platform allows Microsoft to actually lure the Android developers to just publish their Android apps without need to redo them into their dedicated stores, which will eventually become part of the Windows Phone Store.

As for the users of high end Lumia devices, such as myself, the majority uses the OS because of Nokia. It's Nokia that brought us to Windows Phone and in many cases - such as mine - it's the future absence of Nokia that will make us leave.
Microsoft is hoping this X series convinces people who buy those phones to later upgrade to a Lumia device. Thing is, the main reason people will be buying a Nokia X is because of Nokia and not because of how the OS looks.
Furthermore, this "hooking people to MS services" is hogwash. Even if they make put people into OneDrive and Outlook etc...that won't prevent them (nor me) from switching of Android or another OS. Because all those services are also available on Android, iOS etc.

bobaka says:

dream on

veii says:

The Moto G kind of took the wind out of Windows Phone's sails. Until then there wasn't a cheap Android phone that wasn't a POS, and WP had the advantage of being smooth and lag free at all price points. Google and Motorola screwed them, though.

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No.520 is as smooth as moto g whilst costing LESS

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Robbzilla says:

And with FEWER APPS and a craptastic OS.

Nucleotide says:

"most of the benefits of the app selection on Android"

Maybe, assuming side loading is enabled. To my knowledge, these phones don't include any of the Google Play Services which basically stops them from accessing Google Play Store.

They are dumbed down Android phones. I wouldn't use one even if it were free. Not to mention they are the ugliest looking phones in the history of mobile phones. My Phillips Savvy looked better then this.

Xingularity says:

There are other sources for apps. Some not so reputable and some like the Amazon app store would just make sense.

Posted via the Amazing Android Central App on my Nexus 10

gregmcph says:

Is this phone aimed at the Dodgy Shenzhen Android market?
Where you install scary pirate App Stores and sideload.

Yuck. Trojaned like your auntie's Windows XP computer.

DJCBS says:

Side loading is enabled. Eflop even mentioned it in the conference.

As for Google, they've replaced all the Google APIs with Nokia APIs. Apps that require Google's APIs will probably present a problem because they won't work and none of Google's services will be available. They hope people will use Microsofts alternative services instead (though they'll still have a headache regarding YouTube)

But in the end, you will be able to simply flash a proper Android ROM into these phones too. Or even install Sailfish into it. So, to me, it's just really a question of having good Nokia build hardware to flash whatever my heart desires into it.

someguy01234 says:

I'm just wondering how hard they will make it to unlock bootloader and root their phones. I'm sure they thought ahead with it.

thatguy97 says:

Not a biggie hell I can root it and put Google play services on it but personally if an android phone doesnt have google play services how is it an android phone and this is pretty skinned phone but not bloated( you know who I'm talking about) but design wise blahh but I relize not everyone will and can root I'm just curious to see if they will continue to support this thing

Sent from my Nexus 7 2013 or iPhone 5

mirad77 says:

Didn't Nokia said making android phone was like peeing on one's self? What happened to that? I think this is Google trying to play nice with MS, as this tile thing is sh**ting on android. How did that work with windows phone as they have what 3% market?

thatguy97 says:

I hear but I've used a windows phone and there not as bad as what everyone makes out to be but this this is a stupid move by Nokia I'm curious to see how much this will be on 2 year contract

Sent from my Nexus 7 2013 or iPhone 5

Jack Larson1 says:

The massive 8.1 update is going to bring WP8 up to speed on the software side, eliminating previously missing things on WP. I'm already getting excited

Fadakar says:

This isn't a 2 year contract device. Did you not understand that from the low price and the fact that the X is already available and not a single carrier is advertising it?

axllebeer says:

Seems like a big ouch to Microsoft

thatguy97 says:

I guess but this phone isn't going to do shit

Sent from my Nexus 7 2013 or iPhone 5

kenyee says:

Seems like a non-starter to me. I've tried developing on Blackberry's version of this hack and it's a waste of time. Different ecosystem. Confused users who think they're on an "Android" phone but nothing works the way it should and gripe that you're not updating apps for them.

At least Amazon's tablet play made sense because they wanted full control of the UI.

This just doesn't make logical sense...

jackoceanz says:

that thing looks like something from the 90s or early 2000's

thatguy97 says:

It has a touchscreen so no its not except for that HTC phone in 2000

Sent from my Nexus 7 2013 or iPhone 5

willizen says:

Maybe if Nokia had gone all in with Android from the start, they wouldn't be a two-bit washed up cell phone company. Have fun picking up the scraps at the bottom Nokia. Such a waste

They had no chance of making android work either.. which is why they went with windows in the first place.. atm we have HTC hanging on by a thread, blackberry in freefall, Palm defunct, Motorola being essentially turned into a nameplate for lenovo (if anyone wants to talk about their crack hardware team who has been innovating recently keep in mind that Google kept that portion of the company when it sold the device division to Google) and finally Sony struggling to rebuild itself after Ericsson pulled out of that partnership.. we do not know how successful they have been since the breakup.. but it does not appear to be doing that well with their high end line..

Leaving us with LG and Samsung on android side and Apple on the other ... if Nokias claim to fame when they brought out android device rather than switching to windows when they did.. was brightly colored cases and wireless charging.. they would be defunct by now.

patfactorx says:

This idea fails because these are pretty terrible phones based on the other phones in their category. The Moto G comes to mind.

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thatguy97 says:

That's funny because of the iTunes moto phone in your profile pic lol

Sent from my Nexus 7 2013 or iPhone 5

bleached says:

Moto G is twice the price.

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Robbzilla says:

Only the GSM model.

Nokia and Microsoft are playing smart here. Windows phone ecosystem does not have that many apps, there are few windows phone users. So why don't you make an android phone that resembles a windows phone UI, now you have so many apps and can convince users who have no clue if its a windows or android OS how many apps they can now have access to. It also gives windows phone ecosystem some time to catchup on apps so by the time and when the average user switches to windows phone they will not really notice the difference.

The risk with Nokia move is the UI, it may either attract or detract.

bleached says:

Why doesn't Microsoft make Windows Phone work on cheaper devices and spend their time updating their services to go with it? I doubt Microsoft had anything to do with this. Nokia was going in the Android direction and Microsoft had to step in and stop them. This is just how they are spinning it. Microsoft will kill it quickly and replace it with Windows Phone when they take control.

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mssca says:

This phone has NO access to Google Play store. So Nokia can go screw Microsoft.

Robbzilla says:

Ummm... I think Nokia's the catcher in that relationship.

The only way its a help is if if windows phone proper is on its way out and MS decides to instead focus on services for any mobile OS..

Otherwise this move is merely taking the android is fragmented issue.. and making a *much* worse form of fragmentation for developers..

its all fun and easy to simply say "all developers need to do is change a line in their .apk to make the package work with the nokia/ms android app store.. that presumes that there is no middleware or "layer" that exists on the nokia fork of android that will require special case support, and that developers are even willing to take that effort (and are not going to be harassed by Google for providing apps to a competitor)

But as we have seen with all of the various android forks/unsanctioned OS (KindleFire, Nooks, Archos mostly) not to mention all the various devices that have been rushed to market and dumped by the chinese vendors that have no access to Google apps.. have failed or seen insignificant support from third parties..

Add into this the lowest common denominator issue which took Android itself ages to get past (and even now they are not a primary focus for *most* Software development companies )

Now toss in the perception problems especially in regions like europe and asia where both WP and Nokia android devices will coexist.. Will customers understand that the cheap nokias and the expensive ones that look very similar on the surface.. are just as different as Android and iOS are? or that apps "bought" on the Nokia low end store.. are not portable to the Windows phone model when they upgrade/if they upgrade? its not like WP8 and Surface have the best recognition among most users as it is (IE there are precious few people walking into phone shops and asking for WP8 devices on purpose)

So again either MS is looking to end WP8, or was stuck with this project when they bought the company.. there is no valid business or user case for these devices existing.. if they just wanted cheaper devices for low end they could have simply targeted a lower end reference hardware platform for emerging markets/low cost devices.

Revrant says:

No interest at all, I want the quality of the Lumia phones, not some bottom of the barrel knock offs running forked software, these are an attempt to get at the idiots who bought 5Cs, in case the colors didn't tip you off.

coenox says:

In some countries the price of a high end Lumia or a 5c is worth a year salary. That is the market for the Nokia X. Shure, they would love a Lumia, but they simply can't afford it. The most expensive Nokia XL is still cheaper than the cheapest Lumia 520.

rovex says:

People are not realising that the Moto G 8GB is double the price of the Nokia X in Europe. Its 89 euros, the Moto G is 180.

Robbzilla says:

And the Moto G is probably twice the phone that these bricks are.

Ace Tea says:

The rubbish phones of 2014

This phones X and X+ are perfect for my son, and I believe that Nokia is targeting that segment of market. I would not have a single problem if my company gives me XL. 100EUR is not too much for any company and I believe that Nokia still makes solid phones enough strong to endure heavy duties. Phone is a tool not jewelry.

rasel420 says:

I want to see more android phone of Nokia.And cost of those will have to be low.

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NO I DOESNT MAKE ANY SENSE, Why not just make another low cost windows phone .

Microsoft has (and probably still is) practically given full Windows away in developing countries, turned their head willingly while countries like China pirate their SW, so why on earth do you think they need 'cheap' Android?

Makes absolutely ZERO sense.

Chondog says:

That bezel is the biggest fail of the year. What a complete waste of space.

elcano says:

I think that this is just an effort of poisoning the Android waters. They just want to create confusion for newbies, and let other talk about how painful and inconvenient is the Android world.
I have nothing about diversity. Actually, I despise the term fragmentation, as it is a pejorative term for the diversity in the Android world. However, this is not the case. Some Android devices are poot samples because their makers know no better. Nokia could have done a low end device with a plain UI. They instead invested money in creating this clown UI. This bad UI from a really capable company could only be intentional.

Curious kid says:

I'm actually thinking of downgrading from my htc desire 500 to a smaller device that will fit in my jeans pocket. The only thing I actually use from the apps is whatsapp, spotify (switching to nokia music), kayak and my banks app. The features I need is a musicplayer and telephone. The camera sometimes comes in handy though but I don't need high quality pics. The iphone 3GS was the best pocketphone. Now most phones are growing in size and are filled with too many tweaks, settings and options and features. The Nokia X could be the one for me. Im really excited about this little phone. Ordering one from russia.

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So many grammatical errors i couldn't even finish the article. Does AC even proof-read?