As many of us have been waiting for Nokia’s rumored Nokia Android phone, some people simply couldn’t believe that Nokia, a future division of Microsoft would be using a competitor’s OS. And so, with the Announcement of the Nokia X, (rumored as the Nokia Normandy initially) we finally see Nokia release an Android phone, but not at the price or performance level that many of us would have liked to see them to. Sure, Nokia went Windows Phone quickly and drastically with the hiring of Stephen Elop as CEO of Nokia, without even really trying Android, but Nokia somewhat survived that decision until they were acquired by Microsoft. While I’m not sure Nokia could have survived without the Microsoft acquisition, there is no wondering what if since the acquisition is all but final. We could talk on and on about how many more handsets Nokia could have sold if they made a phone like the Lumia 1020 an Android phone, but that’s all in the past now.

Now, the Nokia X is unfortunately a very low-end Android device, but still without a doubt an affordable and well-built device specifically designed to do one thing. Introduce the masses to Microsoft’s cloud services and Nokia’s unique applications if they aren’t willing to buy into Windows Phone, yet. Nokia’s (and Microsoft’s by extension) strategy with the Nokia X is to give users a choice of three different devices, in the Nokia X, Nokia X+ and the Nokia XL all with very low-end internal components but at a very low-end price with the Nokia X starting at $90. 

The Nokia X line of devices will not be locked down or restricted in any way. In fact, it will be a very open device but the interface and the services behind it are all going to be Nokia-Microsoft centric. So, as a result, none of the Nokia X devices are going to ship with Google’s Play Store or any of Google’s services. The goal will be to deploy the device with Microsoft and Nokia’s own services like Skype for chat to replace hangouts, Outlook for email to replace Gmail and Gallery for Photos, not to mention Here Maps for navigation to replace Google Maps and Bing for search to replace Google search.

From left to right, Nokia XL, Nokia X+ and Nokia X – Photo Credit The Verge

As you can see from the devices above, they aren’t very high resolution nor do they look anything like regular Android. The real point is to remove the ‘apps’ argument from people’s vocabulary and to enable Android app developers to deploy their apps in Nokia’s own marketplace and to sell these devices to the global market at a very low price while getting Microsoft’s and Nokia’s services in the hands of consumers. The Nokia X, for example, uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Play, also known as the MSM8225 which is a dual core A5 processor with an Adreno 203 GPU. This is an SoC that has actually been shipping since 2012. So, this phone will be shipping at an 800×480 resolution using a 2 year old SoC, but doing it all at a sub-$100 price point, with dual-SIM capability, which makes it incredibly attractive to emerging markets and people looking to get into a quality smartphone for very little money. Something Nokia pretty much became successful in the mobile market for doing.

As you can see, the Nokia XL has a bigger screen, a front-facing camera, and a bigger battery, while the Nokia X+ has more quiet internal improvements with 768 MB of RAM instead of the 512 MB in the Nokia X. The differences between these three phones are very small, and so is the difference in their price. But no matter what, this appears to be a very interesting move from Nokia and I suspect that it may be part of Microsoft’s strategy to market Android as the inferior solution to Windows Phone’s premium experience.