The Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona saw the unveiling of Nokia’s newest creation : The Nokia X.
At first glance, the device seems like a cross between Lumia and Asha. The UI and OS, however, are particularly unpleasant mixes of Android OS, Windows Phone and Asha OS.
The headline during unveiling was: Nokia’s first Android Phone.
The headline serves as a mere technicality. The entire Android native UI has been ripped out and instead replaced with clumsy tiles, cheaper versions of the Lumia look, a move to save the phone-maker from legal issues with partner and soon to be parent Microsoft. The basic AOSP (Android Open Source Project) source code has been extracted and has been put into a non-Android looking phone.
Home Screen and Notification:
The home screen is a weird version of a Windows Phone OS. Tiles move together, and most of them are static. If you try to rearrange them, the overall effect is clumsy. The tiles definitely need a lot of work for a comfortable look and feel. Unlike the Windows setup, there is no separate list of installed apps on the phone. The home screen is your app-list, which means it looks a lot more clustered and takes a lot more time to locate an app.
The Notification bar, as is the standard in the Android paradigm, is at the top and needs to be swiped down to access the command center, which lets you access the Wi-Fi , Bluetooth and the sound profile, as well as activity notifications.
A Hollow Android Core:
When you first start using the phone, it is pretty damn hard to believe that the device runs on an Android core. Taking only the AOSP source code, Nokia has made it possible to run Android apps on Nokia hardware while at the same time loading up on Microsoft and Nokia apps. The mobile runs AOSP 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) version.
Things that you most definitely will miss, if you are an Android fan, are the absence of apps like Google Now, Google Maps and Navigation, and worst of all, Google Play Store. Yes. The powerhouse of Android has been kicked out of this phone. Instead, there are third party app stores like Yandex, the largest app provider in Russia, to provide support for apps.Ways to download apps on the phone are primarily dependent on installing Android Application Package Files (APKs), which is still a risky proposition, depending on where you get the APKs from.
The absence of Play Store, and the million plus apps that come along with it, will be a crushing blow to Android users, many of whom feel that the Android experience is largely dependent on the Store. To use Android without Play Store is something akin to playing games without a video output. You are just blind and have no idea what lies ahead.
To serve a broader customer base , Nokia has taken one step too many, and has come up with a phone that is neither a Windows Phone, and miles away from being compared to a fully functional Android phone.
Learning from the Past?
Not so long ago, Nokia tried to do something “out-of-the-box” by bringing Linux Operating System to mobile devices by developing Maemo. While the phone N900 housing the Maemo OS had failed, yet they gained respect in the geek’s society. If they could have learnt anything from this, it might just be the fact that (apart from the geeky society) people are not too fond of changes. When Android, Windows or even iPhone tried to push the boundaries of smartphones, they did so taking small steps. While this fact may fall in favor for Nokia’s venture, yet there is another thing to consider, the smartphone market has changed.
Majority of the smartphone users do not need/want simplified UI, rather a UI they can customize to their needs. What else might be the reason for Galaxy S3, Note 2 or even Note 3’s success over iPhone? Now, what nokia did, if put simply, is, they took something as open and customizable as AOSP, modified it according to their brand and closed the customizability as much as possible. A solid step towards branding? Yes! A refined step for a more marketable android phone? I don’t think so.
A Big Mistake:
I’m not even gonna go into the technical specifications, as the entire UI has become cheap and awkward, the absence of Play Store bugs me to no end, and there is little or no room for customization.
As a faithful Android user, I never used to like Nokia much, but I still respected the company for making dedicated Windows phones when Android had become the rage. Now, the phone maker is nothing short of a jack of all trades, ripping off ideas from here and there and trying to satisfy customers.
My personal opinion:
If I want a phone with Windows8 tiles, I would go for a Windows phone. If I want an android phone with tiles, I would go for a free launcher app like Launcher 8. I do not see any reasons why I should invest money for an android phone which is neither? So, in conclusion I personally think Nokia X is a big mistake, both in technology and for the company. Only time will tell if I am right or hopefully wrong.