Back in 2011 when Nokia went full on with Windows Phone, effectively ignoring Android (and also criticizing it), there was a loyal Nokian inside many of us, who hoped to see the Finland company make an Android phone. It’s happening now, just as the company is in the final stages of closing its deal with Microsoft, which could either be the best time or the most awkward time. Whether Nokia X was always the plan B inside old Nokia, which its top execs always denied or why Nokia is doing it so late will always remain unknown. And now there isn’t really reason to dig deep on it. But this may be a telling sign that Windows Phone sales aren’t as good as what the company had expected initially. On the other hand, its proprietary Asha platform was fading away and doesn’t stand a chance to go head to head with the crop of cheap Android devices. It was going to be replaced eventually. And Windows Phone can’t really go down any further than where it is now in the low end segment. Desperate times call for desperate measures but is Nokia X really the desperate measure? And is it any worth now?
You don’t need to have superpowers to tell that Nokia X has inherited its design from the Asha series. It’s a monoblock form factor and Nokia X indeed looks boxy. Design is very simple yet it’s very sophisticated. It stands apart from the crowd even with its simplistic approach. Although its design doesn’t scream “premium” from any angle, Nokia sure has used very good quality material for it. And even though it’s still plastic, it is far better than the usual crop of the cheap droids. It’s durable as well. It’s good enough to handle the accidental drops sometimes, just sometimes. Slightly sharp edges on the front and curved corners just fit right on Nokia X. If there’s any complain at all with its design, then it’s the rather thick bezel below the display.
Nokia X features a four inch display with WVGA resolution. Although, it’s a regular LCD panel, it has excellent sunlight legibility. Just above the display there is a Nokia X’s earpiece and to its right is ambient light sensor and proximity sensor. Below the display, there’s only “Back” key on the Nokia X. There isn’t usual setup of the keys found on Android phones. This again is taken from Asha series. Our complain with it is that there is no light under it and we checked this with Nokia itself. Nokia experimented this on Lumia 525/625 first. Problem here is that if you’re using it in dark, you don’t see it all. Nokia could have gone with radium-like material if they wanted to save some bucks and still maintain convenience for users.
On the right side, there is a volume rocker and a power-cum-lock key. Left side is totally bare.
On the top sits the 3.5mm audio jack while the microUSB-cum-charger port is on the bottom.
The back hosts 3MP camera and near the bottom there’s a loudspeaker of Nokia X. Removing back panel is easy as all you have to do is start pulling it from one of the corners. The back panel has good grip due to the fact that it has matte finish and tapered edges.
Under the back cover sits the 1500 mAh battery. There are couple of micro SIM card slots as well. In between them is the microSD card slot. All of them are non hot swappable.
In terms of hardware, Nokia X is identical to Windows Phone 8 running Lumia 520. But the hardware is better is better in the case of later. Nokia X uses Snapdragon S4 (MSM8225) dual core processor running at 1GHz along with Adreno 203 GPU. There is 512MB of RAM as well on board. For reference, Lumia 520 uses a better Snapdragon S4 (MSM8227) with Adreno 305 GPU and it too runs at 1GHz.
This is quite surprising for us. With Nokia X platform, Nokia doesn’t even need to pay licensing fees to anyone, unlike WP8, so Nokia could use better hardware here. The current hardware looks inferior but then again you’d rarely see any OEM using quad core Snapdragon SoC and most of the quad core phones in this range use MediaTek SoCs.
Display has moderate resolution of 800×480 pixels. It uses two point touchscreen and it didn’t have any adverse effect on the usage. It also supports double tap to wake up but it didn’t work as smoothly as we expected. Display has very good viewing angles something you wouldn’t get in this segment.
Nokia X’s performance isn’t any great to write home about. It has to do with both the hardware and software, mostly the software part. Although, it’s Nokia’s own platform, it’s still built upon the AOSP part of Android Jellybean 4.1.2. And we all are aware with the resource hungry nature of the Android OS and the apps it runs. It’s evident on Nokia X as well. Nokia has further customized AOSP to its own needs. Traditionally, OEM customization has always been the reason behind the slowdown of the Android on many devices.
Nokia should have chosen the hardware keeping this in the mind. The current choice of hardware feels just too weak to keep up with the demands of the OS. We’re not talking about cores. Not that they don’t affect the performance but more cores doesn’t necessarily mean better performance. It’s the amount of RAM which is too little and doesn’t give the OS and the apps all the space they need.
While sitting idle, Nokia X would have around 100MB of free RAM. Further, Nokia has to iron out many quirks on the software side. That’s the only way they can ease the situation. There was lag many times, right from the home screen. Sometimes it would take more time to exit from the apps and reach the homescreen than it should have really taken. It would show waiting screen for like five seconds at least 50% of the time.
Nokia’s judgement with regards to Nokia X’s hardware to software isn’t very accurate it seems. On the other hand, Nokia’s own Lumia 520 with similar hardware runs very much smoothly. It’s because Microsoft has optimized the Windows Phone 8 for the specific hardware and obviously it runs differently at the core than Android OS.
Benchmarks don’t have any different story to tell. It scored just around 8K in AnTuTu.
Although Nokia X has just 1500 mAh battery, it does a very good job of keeping the phone alive for approximately 16 hours. We used the with just one SIM which was running on 3G all the time. Unfortunately, we couldn’t test it with both the SIM cards which would have given better idea about its battery life, for sure. Still, it’s not disappointing for sure.