Following weeks of rumors, Nokia on Monday unveiled several new Android phones, the first ones using that platform. The new models belong to the new Nokia X family, which represents the phone company's first major break with the Windows Phone platform of its soon-to-be parent, Microsoft.
Although Android-based, the X family is Android with asterisks. It is built from the Android Open Source Platform, so it is not exactly the same as Google's popular Android. Nokia says, however, that the devices can run any Android apps without modification. They all utilize the tile-based, Lumia-like approach of the Windows Phone interface, and are targeted at first-time smartphone users in emerging markets.
The three models are the X, the X+ and the XL. They feature Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processors, come in a variety of colors, and have dual SIM cards.
The X features a 3-megapixel camera and a 4-inch capacitive display. The X+ is targeted more at what Nokia called "multimedia enthusiasts" because its additional memory and storage is better equipped for games, photos, music and video. Both the X and X+ have 4-inch, 800x400 screens and 3-megapixel cameras. The XL has a 5-inch, 800x480 screen with a 2-megapixel camera on the front and a 5-megapixel on the back.
The X family is intended for emerging markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, India, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. The X model starts at 89 euros ($122), and is being sold now. The X+ and XL will go on sale in second quarter, at 99 euros ($136) and 109 euros ($150), respectively.
All three models include Fastlane, which allows users to quickly switch between apps, and there's access to the Nokia Store and over a dozen third-party app stores.
Unlike other Android phones, which often feature Google services, this Nokia version of Android phones has its own services -- HERE maps with turn-by-turn navigation and Nokia MixRadio, as well as free cloud storage on Microsoft's OneDrive. The company said that buying an X model in some markets will also give you a month of unlimited world subscription from Microsoft's Skype, good for international calls.
Still Separate Companies
The Android phones allow Nokia to compete against low-cost phones in emerging markets, since Windows Phone does not work well on lower-end hardware. But the devices, of course, also compete against Microsoft's own platform.
In a posting on Monday, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Communications Frank X. Shaw noted that the acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services has not yet closed.
He added the Android devices "introduce the Microsoft cloud to a new set of customers in growth markets," and said the company is "pleased" to see such services as Skype, OneDrive and Outlook "being introduced on these devices."
But, since they are still two completely separate businesses, it is not yet clear what the fate of the Android devices will be once Microsoft takes over.