Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reviewing The Nokia X

Nokia was one of the foremost manufacturers of mobile devices and enjoyed a lot of popularity through the first decade of the millennium. The phones were hardy and user friendly which made them much preferred. However, with the launch of the iPhone and the Android open source mobile software, the popularity of Nokia phones dipped. 

The Finnish manufacturer refused to switch over to the new and improved technology that was incorporated into the new phones manufactured by Sony, LG, Samsung and other companies. When it did decide to upgrade its hardware and software, the company chose Windows as its preferred OS. This was another decision that led to a restriction in the sales of Nokia phones. Windows phones lacked the flexibility that was there in Android or iOS which led to slow sales for Nokia. App developers were not much interested in the OS and hence buyers stayed away as they could not download their favourite apps on the phone.
Nokia X

The Windows OS is quite unsuitable for low end phones and to cater to the budget segment, Nokia revamped some of its cell phones with the Symbian software and launched them in the market. Meanwhile, Android became the new buzz word and in the race to the bottom, phones that had Android in them were made available for as low as Rs 5000!

The Nokia X may be touted as an Android device, but it lacks several of Google’s foundation software. For example, Google has a Play Store app, Google Now search bar and Google Maps for navigation. Android licensees need to follow Google’s guidelines and include these apps, which is why Samsung and other phones have these applications.

Since Microsoft has its own range of similar applications, the Android ones have not been installed on them. Instead, Office, Bing Search and Nokia Here maps have been installed on the phone and there are no Google trademark apps anywhere.

The company claims that 75 percent of Android apps will work on the phone. However, the effectiveness of working is doubtful. Applications that use in-app payments, Google push notification and API maps may not work well. Moreover, the Android system used is 4.1.2 which is quite outdated.

The company intends to launch three devices on the Nokia X platform. However, after the take over from Microsoft, it is to be seen whether the company continues with these devices or promoted Windows phones instead.

Hardware of the Phone

The appearance of the device is similar to the Asha 5xx series and is roughly the size of iPhone 4. The sides are completely flat while the back bulges slightly. The phone is available in green, red, yellow, white, and blue and black.

The coloured case fits around the sides and back of the phone and forms a cover around the bezel and black screen. Putting on and taking off the case can be a bit difficult as it fits too snugly.

A single capacitive button has been placed for the home and back button. The screen size is 4 inches. A thin 1500 mAh battery has been placed under the back cover along with a microSD card slot and 2 micro SIM slots. The phone is made of sturdy materials and feels quite expensive.

Specs of the Phone

The Nokia X is not a credible threat to the Lumia 525 in terms of features. The processor used is 1GHz Qualcomm S4 Snapdragon with a A5 Cortex based MSM8225, which was not much high end even two years ago.

The GPU is the Adreno 203 while only 512MB RAM has been fitted in the phone. The phone’s prime objective is price and hence it does not look to uphold multimedia or gaming aspirations.

Built in storage space is only 4GB which can be expanded to 32 GB, using a microSD card. The screen resolution is only 800X480 resolutions. The phone supports 3G data and Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi b/g/n for wireless connectivity.

FM Radio and GPS have been included too. No secondary camera has been included in the phone that could be used to click selfies or video chat. The primary camera is 3MP which is the lowest specification that a smartphone offers these days.

User Interface of the Phone

The software has been optimized to suit the hardware of the phone. Simple swipes can be used for navigation and animations have been kept simple. A cluster of big icons without spacing shall greet users on the Home screen, which is similar to what is there in Windows 8 phones.

The groups can be tapped for rearranging the icons and each of the icons can be enlarged. The home screen appears as a long list of icons and widgets instead of pages that can be scrolled.

Basic applications have been included in the phones such as alarm clock, calendar, email client, calculator etc. They are quite handy, but not very user friendly. Bing is the default search engine used in the phone although it can be easily changed to Google using a tap on an icon. The email icon supports many accounts and can be set up for popular email services through one step.

Performance of the Phone

The phone is quite slow and several apps do not work accurately. For example, Zomato could not detect the location of the phone based on the GPS signal although it showed restaurants near the location defined.

The phone cannot multitask and hence it could take even days to download and install apps on it.

Basic games perform well on the mobile. However, the browser is quite slow and hence opening 3-4 tabs at a time is inadvisable. The phone can play back videos with resolution up to 720p. However, for H.264 videos, the playback becomes unwatchable as frames are dropped to a good extent.

Despite the camera being only 3MP, the resolution is quite good and photographs are mostly noise free and compression controlled. Focusing of the phone is quite good although its white balance and exposure need to be worked on. Photographs were well detailed in low light shots too.

Videos are recorded at an extremely low resolution of 352X288 and hence the feature should be used in dire emergencies only.

Call quality is quite good and the battery back-up is average. It lasted only 6 hours in a video loop test.


The phone is quite good for its price band of Rs 8,499. However, whether the line would be continued or improved upon is doubtful, especially after Microsoft takes over operations.

The Nokia X series has been launched to tempt users to upgrade to a Windows phone. However, that could act as a double edged sword with users migrating towards Android devices instead of a Windows one.

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