The recent announcement of the Nokia X line of phones (in the form of the Nokia X, Nokia X+, and Nokia XL) has generated a bit of excitement among phone enthusiasts. It isn’t that there is anything wrong with the other excellent smartphones built by Nokia, but they have a major failing in many people’s eyes; they don’t run Android.
Many fans of Android smartphones (me included) got their start in the smartphone world by owning a Nokia phone that ran Symbian. Most Nokia owners were delighted with the build quality and the excellent chipsets used in these phones and have assumed that this is still true. Whether Nokia continues to deserve that reputation is up for debate, but there are still plenty of people who believe that putting Android in a Nokia phone would be the ultimate expression of the smartphone.
The problem with the Nokia X however, is that when it comes to hardware specs, it is decidedly low-end. This comes as no surprise, as the phone is intended for emerging markets and won’t even officially be sold in North America. The latter is hardly an issue for someone who really wants to have one, because all phones are easy enough to order online.
So just how low-end is it? Even looking strictly at the most capable of the trio (the Nokia XL) we find that it sports a Qualcomm S4 dual-core processor, but clocked at a measly 1 GHz. It has only 768 MB of RAM (the norm these days is 2 GB, which some high-end tablets getting 3 GB) and just 4 GB of internal storage. Fortunately however, it does support a MicroSD card slot.
The phone does not support LTE (just GSM and WCDMA), and the screen resolution is only 800 x 480 (even with a screen size of 5 inches). It also has a small 2,000 mAh battery (the lesser...
X models get only a 1,500 mAh battery). The XL gets a reasonable 5 megapixel camera, while the others get just 3 megapixels. Anyone hoping for the 41 megapixel camera form the Lumia 1020 are out of luck.
Worse still, it runs a “forked” version of Android that has a launcher looking very much like Windows Phone, and it does not support the Google Play Store. It comes with no Google apps, opting instead to provide the Microsoft versions of them. Fortunately however, a Nokia executive has assured us that their version of Android CAN sideload apps. However, some reports say the executive in questions was a bit hesitant with his answer, which might suggest he didn’t really know for sure if this was true.
Fortunately, it hasn’t taken hackers long to figure out how to root the device, which as given them to the ability to replace the launcher with something more familiar, and to replace the Microsoft apps with Google apps. This at least makes the phone tolerable for those hoping for a generic Android experience. Now that the phone has been rooted, the next step would be to install a custom ROM and really turn the device into a stock Android device.
You’d think that Nokia would be upset to hear that people have already corrupted their work, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case. A recent tweet from Nokia seems to suggest they are quite happy with the turn of events:
@KashaMalaga This is awesome! Very excited to see progress is being made – we actually really like @xdadevelopers
– Nokia Developer Team (@nokiadeveloper) 28-Feb-2014
Whether Nokia is happy about this or not might be a moot point however, because very shortly the takeover of Nokia’s handset division by Microsoft will be complete. I can’t see Microsoft being all that happy about an officially-supported Android version of their OWN PHONE.