Nokia X

'Nokia X takes people to Microsoft's cloud, not Google's.'

Today at its press conference in Barcelona for MWC 2014, Stephen Elop of Nokia introduced the Nokia X and X+, two new low-end devices running Android. Both phones have a 4-inch display and iconic Nokia design, with the Nokia X+ having better internal specs and an SDcard slot.

The devices are built on AOSP, but do not use any of Google's services. As Elop said at the press conference, "Nokia X takes people to Microsoft's cloud, not Google's." It leverages Nokia's HERE Maps, Outlook.com, Microsoft OneDrive and Skype among other apps to fill in the gaps left by removing Google's cloud services.

Of course because it runs Android, Nokia is making it simple for Android developers to move over their apps to the Nokia store for download on the Nokia X and X+. The process is said to be very simple, according to Elop, and if users want to take things into their own hands the phones will also support sideloading of apps from the internal storage or SDcard.

 

Reader comments

Nokia X and X+ are official: Built on AOSP and running Nokia services

72 Comments

I hate to say this, but this is exactly what Google had in mind when they made Android. This is also the reason why Google pulled most of its services from AOSP.

The question is, are any of these phones going to be any good without Google Services? (Amazon Kindle Fire, BlackBerry Emulator devices)

Posted from my "KNOX-FREE" 4.3 Sprint GS3 Maxx...!!!
(ZeroLemon 7000mA battery and ZeroShock Case)

I still can't understand why Nokia has felt the need to go down this avenue. You'd have thought that with the partnership with Microsoft that they can produce a decent enough budget windows phone.... I just can't get my head around it.

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I'm pretty sure they do have decent low end phones...I mean I just bought a 520 for $70 for the hell of it. That's pretty cheap to me, and I'd assume low end. So I'm not really sure where these phones come into play. Or why.

Exactly... It just seems so nonsensical and the PR from this can't do them any favour. I can understand why they aren't leveraging any of the Google services which just makes me think why bother using android in the first place. If it is emerging markets they are after I'm not sure selling a skinned android device as apposed to a cheap windows phone device is going to make much of a difference.

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I don't think so either. And obviously they know more than us, so I guess we'll see where it goes. Maybe they're banking on the fact that android has way more apps and developers and they're making it easy for developers to jump on board unlike WP.

Well it seems funny that they brought it out just before the final merger. It is more likely that it had been in development for a while and has just managed to get through before Microsoft could put their foot down. I've seen a few people calling it a "gateway" device to windows phones. Surely a cheap windows phone would be a better gateway haha.

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Yeah definitely been in development for a while. And they aren't just gonna scrap that cause of a merger. I really wouldn't call it a gateway device either. Not for android, cause its nothing of an android experience, and not for windows cause, well, you might as well buy a cheap windows phone. Lol

Because WP cant run on that low end hardware in the X and X+. What Nokia is saying with this is that Microsoft cant do a decent OS that runs on any hardware you can think of (well except Windows 8 but thats another story).

I thought windows phone can run on 256 mb of RAM. That's lower than Android system requirements.

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Well, I think this announcement is pretty embarrassing and humbling for Microsoft, who is basically admitting it simply can't compete with its standalone OS. I know this is a Nokia product but there's no question Microsoft had final say in whether Nokia got to go ahead with its Android plans.

But I see this as more than simply Nokia getting a hold on the low-end market, but also a maneuver to bring people to Windows services - Outlook, OneDrive, et cetera et cetera. Nokia wants to put emphasis on its suite of apps and Microsoft-branded software and get more adoption, and I think they feel that Windows Phone, Windows 8, and other services will catch on as buyers catch on to Microsoft's services.

My only question is - why now? I think this announcement is a terrible distraction from Windows Phone and basically a concession that the global smartphone market is Android's to lose. 'If you can't beat em, join em' has NEVER been Microsoft's mantra so why now, especially when WP 8.1 is on the horizon?

I don't think these phones are really meant to compete with much. Like you said, it's another way for them to out their services and Microsoft services. It's not like they produced some high end phone to compete with all the others. But yeah I agree, I don't completely get it. I don't see how it will fit in with all the other low end options out there already.

I have to disagree, I don't think it is at all obvious that Microsoft had the final say in this. Given Microsoft's past behaviour I don't think they would be at all okay with this, and I think the most likely explanation is that these devices were a negotiating tactic to get Microsoft to buy them, and they haven't been canceled because the buyout hasn't yet been finalised.

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Apps. Microsoft simply can't convince developers to build apps for WP. So to catch people on their first smartphone experience, they're trying to offer them an Android phone with access to Android apps but that will bind them to Microsoft's products.
They (Microsoft at its minion at Nokia, Eflop) think that once people in emerging markets, who favour Android, get into a Nokia X phone, they'll become entwined with Microsoft's services and so, when upgrading, they'll chose a Microsoft phone or any Windows Phone.

Unfortunately for them, that doesn't work as easily as they think. Even WP users - like myself - can very easily get rid of Microsoft's services (go try and find Bing on my IE browser on WP or on my W8.1 PC. You won't find it lol You'll find Google there instead),

That's exactly what I've been trying to say too. They want to entice people with the "android" parts and then suck them into the Nokia/Microsoft ecosystem. I also doubt it'll work, but I guess you do what you can.

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Rumors have been saying that Microsoft have been playing with adding an Android Run time to WP. If this is true this could be Microsoft's way of starting a market and then moving all X, X+ and XL apps to WP later, making android the standard for app development.

I agree with you. I had a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone for almost a year and bought in to Microsoft and Nokia's services but ultimately, I found ways to circumvent everything. First, there was no chance in hell I was switching to Live.com back then (now it's Outlook and, well, I'm still not switching regardless of Gchat integration). Second, there was calendar but Google Calendar is simply unparalleled and universally used. SkyDrive worked very well and I used it but it offered me nothing Dropbox and Google Drive didn't. Nokia Music was nice but Spotify was nicer and all my friends used it. And while I still contend that Nokia Drive was better than Google Maps for turn-by-turn navigation, that's not reason enough to wed myself to Microsoft.

And there's also an even bigger problem: compatibility. Microsoft changes its mind every 2 to 3 months and drives me absolutely crazy. I got my Lumia and not even a month later, they announced no backwards compatibility for WP 8. Immediately, my apps were outdated and promised updates were simply cancelled in favor of WP 8 apps. First I'm at Live.com and then Outlook and first it's SkyDrive and now it's OneDrive (I know the latter was the result of a lawsuit but even still) - the point is, regardless of whether Microsoft's ecosystem is a worthy alternative to Google's services, they're going to change their mind in a few months anyways so we won't even have time to appreciate it.

It's one thing to seek adoption of services through a move like this, but the services themselves have to be worthy enough to convince people Microsoft is worth a try.

First off, OneDrive does offer something Dropbox and Google Drive don't: integration into Microsoft Office Online and Skype. Second, I would compare Spotify to Xbox Music.
About MS changing their mind a million times: You bought a phone 1 month prior to a new OS version coming out knowing that it is possible WP7 phones won't get it. That is on you. Considering you are on Android Central, I feel pretty confident that you knew that there was a chance you wouldn't be updating (considering it was all over WPCentral). They changed the name from Live.com to Outlook.com (btw, you can still go to live.com to login) because they wanted a better naming scheme. Outlook is already a trusted name in email, so why not leverage that onto the web version? OneDrive was a necessity. It had absolutely nothing to do with MS changing their mind. Oh, and nothing you mentioned even begins to happen every 2 to 3 months.

By admission you know this would be a bad business plan for MS. So why in the heck would think MS would try using this to steer people to WP. This is all Nokia

So will google play apps be compatible with this?

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I would think if you can side load the apps, why not? That could be why they are saying that. They want people to be turned on by the possibility of a wider app selection over WP.

What a mess this is. Hope it would support the use of custom launchers cos that UI is damn ugly!

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Most won't fancy this considering the fact that there's better options in the market.

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I kind of just stated the same thing above. Lol there's many more options out there already and this is like the new weird kid on the block.

I loved the coy absence of Google Play Store in Elop's list of compatible store options...if this is forked, which it is, why is it such a big deal to just come out and call it forked Android?

Also, LOL at Elop suggesting that Nokia X users - many of whom he admits will be first-time or tech-illiterate smartphone users - should 'sideload' apps from other locations. What a joke.

Trademark issues probably. Do Amazon ever refer to their version of Android as "forked Android"?

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Prior to the last version, they did mention FireOS being Android-based.

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Definitely not what I was expecting (or hoping for) when the rumors of a Nokia Android phone emerged. This bastardization of Android, however, is in keeping with what I'd expect from Elop.

Still have to wonder what this says about Microsoft's overall stance on their mobile platform.

I was thinking the same. When they do the global breakdown of OS adoption this will only boost androids market share surely if it does well, it is still an android phone after all.

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"I hope XDA can fix this unholy mess "
Actually I hope XDA can pry Nokia Drive from these devices and get THAT running on non-Nokia devices. I've been using Nokia Symbian-devices as my main satnav the past few years and I love it. It's clean, simple looks are completely distracting yet provide clear turn-by-turn guide, coupled this with the amazingly loud speaker from e.g. a Nokia 808PV. A necessity in today's wild traffic. I tried Sygic on Android, while it is much more beautiful, it's so bewildering with colours and info that it becomes lethal in high traffic to actually see where you're going. The only advantage it has over Nokia Drive is that it has a "night"mode with darkened colours.

What's stopping someone from removing that joke of a launcher and installing all the Google apps themselves or at least the Amazon app store?

Just remember this before sideloading. Any APK. that uses any of the play services api's properly wont work very well. No chromecasting from Nokia.

Nokia should of just added their services instead of taking google services all out. in my opinion that's a important part of android might as well just stick with wp.

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I just don't see how this will sell well or help Nokia's bottom line. In emerging markets and countries like Spain (and cities like Barcelona), where universal smartphone adoption seems to be the endgame, Samsung is making a killing and it's for three reasons: their phones work and are generally reliable; they offer a plethora of options for every consumer price point; and their phones are baked with Google services. Anyone who is cross-shopping the Nokia X and a million different Samsung Android options are going to go with Samsung, 9 times out of 10. In fact, the two year old Galaxy S3 Mini is just as competitive if not more competitive than the Nokia X, and will get you out the door at a similar price point. I lived in Spain for several months last year and picked up the S3 Mini myself for just 150 euros and was more than satisfied by its performance.

"Samsung is making a killing and it's for three reasons: their phones work and are generally reliable; they offer a plethora of options for every consumer price point"
1) their phones work as reliable as any other Android brand A phone.
2) just as any other Android manufacturer
3) Samsung is the dumping ground of consumer products. They flood the market with whatever crap they can dig up so that the everybody see Samsung everywhere and (wrongly) assumes that that is the brand to go. It's a typical Korean market-tactic that only works if you sleep with everybody and everything. It doesn't mean that you have the best intentions with your consumers or that you have a strategy other than making money with whatever you can.

"picked up the S3 Mini myself for just 150 euros and was more than satisfied by its performance"
A cheap Sony Xperia U would not only LOOK better and have better performance. It would have been cheaper too. Keep in mind that these Nokia X's are between 25 or 30% CHEAPER than that S3 mini you mentioned!!!

In fact comparing specs between Nokia XL vs SGS3 mini. I see a 2MP (AKA Full HD) front camera vs. 720P-front cam, 2000mAh battery vs. 1500mAh. Including VAT the XL would cost approx. 132 euro while the SGS3-mini still sells for 199,99 (incl. VAT) in my country. I think that's still a great deal for an A-brand (android) cheap smartphone.

Of course I would personally go to a Jiayu G4 myself. ;-)

"Nokia should of just added their services instead of taking google services all out."
They HAVE added "their" services! Didn't you read the title of this article? "...and running Nokia services....". Nokia's services are actually a mixture of Microsoft services and Nokia services. And they ARE included on these devices.

And why there will be a small portion o/t geek market that'll remove these in favor for true Google services (why you want to do that is beyond me but...), the market these devices are targeted for isn't the Android geek. The majority of Nokia X-series consumers won't tamper with the M$/Nokia services at all. Why would you? If you're happy with cloud-email then it doesn't bother whether it's Gmail, Yahoomail or "Hotmail" and Nokia Maps/Drive is a great SatNav-system especially since it comes FREE on these devices, has full offline-maps AND provide full real navigation. Google maps are just maps with very limited navigation capabilities.

FWIW, Why should M$ bother with Android as a phone OS. They already make more money piggybacking on Android HW-manufacturers ( through licenses/lawsuits) than WP. As for them it is all about the services not about the apps. The majority of revenue from apps goes to the app-developper anyway so if it generates enough income to keep running the "store" then that's enough. The big bucks come from the services (the data that it provides and the potential sales that can be generate either through advertising or selling the data itself).

IMHO they should have done this much earlier. They should have created a Nokia 808 successor with AOSP a long time ago.

Well, as a Nokia fan (and therefore WP user) I am appalled at the lengths Eflop made Nokia go to bastardize Android and turn it into a Microdroid. I think it became clear, today, to whom Eflop always worked.

That said, the good thing about these phones is that eventually someone will manage to slap a decent Android ROM into it. I'm counting on that...

Don't count on the ability to load custom ROMs, at least not in AT&T and Verizon's case. They (AT&T and Verizon) will most likely require Nokia to lock down the bootloader like they have with the Galaxy S4 keeping users from loading custom ROMs.

A Nokia phone running pure Android would probably sell by the boat-load, but with Microsoft in charge, it will never happen. I actually think Nokia and MS are doing a good job: Nice phones etc, but being so used to Google services and Android OS, I have no desire to change.

Shame really.

Specs aside... An android phone but it... runs Nokia/Microsoft garbage? Yeah, great idea. Stick to software, Microsoft. Take your upscaled to 900p media box and terrible phones to the middle of a crowded highway and sit there.

Ive owned a Nokia 920 and 1020 as well as HTC One and Nexus 5 and currently on a iPhone 5 (go ahead) and these are my thoughts. Its a no lose situation for Nokia. These phones are running jellybean so its clear this phone was in dev before the Nokia/MS partnership. So I think it was more of releasing something they were working on. MS ultimately signed off on this but you know they are not too happy about it but money talks and MS makes too much money from Android. Google as well cant be too thrilled with this phone. Its just another Android phone in name only thats stripped of ALL Google services like Amazon did. Google depends on these services and if these phones move the units Nokia thinks they will that a bunch of people not using G services, which is where they make their money.

I have 2 questions. Will MS continue to update these phones (it is running off a OS that is 2+ years old) after they finalize the Nokia deal and how long will it take the community to unlock the bootloader and slap 4.4 on it.

The UI definitely looks interesting.

To those wondering, Nokia couldn't cancel this device, because it was in the pipeline, before Microsoft decided to purchase Nokia's hardware division. And, IIRC, until that deal goes through (I don't believe it has been finalized yet), then Nokia is free to continue down this path.

Now, once that deal is finalized, then you can probably expect Microsoft to can this project altogether.

Just my opinion. Please feel free to correct me, if I'm wrong.

It would have looked much better, really tempting actually, if it had been cut along the lines of the display.