Nokia X Hands-on: An Android Phone with the Heart of a Lumia

Nokia is making huge waves today with the announcement of its first ever Android-powered smartphone lineup dubbed the X series. Comprised of the Nokia X, X+ and XL, Nokia, which was purchased by Microsoft five months ago, is positioning the X family between its entry-level Asha and high-end Windows Phone-based Lumia lines.

According to CEO Stephen Elop, the Android-powered Nokia X series will serve as a gateway to getting users interested in the company’s Windows Phones devices by giving them access to Android apps, while introducing them to Microsoft and Nokia’s services. We went hands-on with the Nokia X and XL to see how well the company’s experiment works.

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Put any of the X series smartphones next to one of Nokia’s Lumia handsets and you’ll be hard pressed to find any difference between the two. That’s because the Nokia X series gets the same colorful, polycarbonate shell as the Lumia line. In fact, even long-time Lumia users may be fooled when they first lay eyes on the Nokia X’ Android interface, as it apes the look of Windows Live Tile UI. 

Unfortunately, unlike Live Tiles, the X series interface doesn’t offer live app updates from its home screen, though a Nokia representative hinted that such a feature could be coming in the future.

Even moving between the XL’s home screen and your most recently used app looks and feels like it does when using a Windows phone device. Unlike the vast majority of Android-powered handsets, the Nokia X series phones don’t include the classic Android back, home and recent apps buttons. Instead, Nokia’s smartphones get a single back button.

In terms of specs, the Nokia X phones don’t differ too much from each other. The Nokia X and X+ both sport 4-inch, 800 x 480-pixel displays and are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processors. The Nokia X, however, gets 512MB of RAM, while the X+ gets 768MB. Both handsets feature similar 3-megapixel rear cameras. 

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The Nokia XL offers the same Snapdragon processor and 768MB of RAM as the Nokia X+, though it gets a larger 5-inch, 800 x 480 resolution display. The XL also gets a higher resolution 5-megapixel camera.

During our brief time with the XL, we found performance to be a mixed bag. Switching between apps and the home screen was quick and fluid, but opening certain apps and restarting the phone seemed to take forever. That said, these phones aren’t built to be world-beaters, so a little lag is to be expected. 

Overall, the Nokia X line appears to offer a serviceable hybrid Android/ Live Tile experience wrapped in a handsome design. Whether Nokia's gambit to use Android-based handsets as a lure for Windows Phone will pay off remains to be seen.

Daniel P. Howley
LAPTOP Senior Writer
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.