Nokia XL hands-on: a bigger take on Android from Nokia
Venturing into something new is always a scary thing, even for a veteran phone maker that’s been climbing back up the ladder for the last few years or so. Nokia has seen its fair share of ups and downs during that time, so it came with great uncertainty when rumors first came floating to the surface regarding plans of making an Android powered smartphone. Fast forward to the present and Nokia finds itself yet again in another crossroad.
On one side, they haven’t neglected the low end segment, which is made especially known by their continued commitment to its Asha line of devices. And on the other end, its Lumia line has shown us the potential wonders of what its high-end smartphones are capable of doing. Well, they’re venturing out again in open waters by entering the Android sphere with a trio of new smartphones from its X line. In this hands-on post, we’re focusing our attention on its biggest sized offering – the Nokia XL!
Nokia is just spot on when it comes to designing a smartphone, which manifests again with the Nokia XL. You could argue that it borrows heavily from its Lumia line, a fitting gesture to say the least considering that Nokia’s handset have a distinctive look to them. As for the Nokia XL, it’s not a bad looking phone when you look and hold it – though, its build quality is a clear indication of its target audience.
Whereas the Lumia line is sometimes daring, the design of the Nokia XL is more subdued, which is evident by its hard lines and overall boxier look. From a profile view, we can make out a subtle taper to its design, but when we hold it, we can feel the sides and edges of the phone digging in slightly into our hand. Plastic by nature, it’s not the same sturdy variety we see with the polycarbonate casings employed by devices like the Lumia Icon, 1020, and 1520 before it. Rather, it’s a flimsier type that gives the middle portion of the rear casing some hollowness. However, we really appreciate that the rear cover is interchangeable – and the fact that it’s available in an array of colors too.
All the elements we find on any smartphone are littered around its edges, so they include the power button, volume control, 3.5mm headset jack, and microUSB port. There’s a single capacitive back button beneath its display, while a 2-meapixel front facing camera sits atop the display. Meanwhile, the rear is home to its 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and speakerphone notch. Underneath the rear casing, we gain access to its dual-SIM and microSD slots.
When you’re expected to sport an amazing low price point, it shouldn’t be a shocker to find that the display in the Nokia XL isn’t going to be specs conscious. Featuring a 5-inch 480 x 800 (WVGA) IPS display, it’s surely not the sharpest thing in its class, but it doesn’t need to be. Details might be spotty when it comes to fine text and whatnot, but for the majority of other things, it shouldn’t really pose a problem.
Viewing angles are okay, with some distortion at wide angles – while colors appear a bit subdued in tone. Furthermore, it attracts fingerprints and smudges like no other, which is made worse knowing that it requires a fair amount of scrubbing to remove. At the end of the day, we’re not too conscious with the low end specs.
Interface and functionality
This is where things become juicy, as the Nokia XL is running Android underneath it all. Looking at it, there are several elements in play with the experience that borrow from both Windows Phone and typical Android – albeit, its universal search function appears to be iOS-like. At the core of it all, the experience, which is based on the Android Open Source Project, is a straightforward one that focuses on simplicity above all else.
The homescreen is very Windows Phone-like, since it consists of static tiles that can be rearranged and resized to our liking. Swiping down from the top bezel of the UI at any time grants us access to a familiar connectivity and notifications tray – while swiping left/right from the main homescreen takes us to the “Fast Lane,” which appears to be an aggregation of the most recently used apps and features.
Visually, the UI is an interesting take considering that it’s Android underneath it all. At the same time, though, the experience isn’t very much Android-like. To be more exact, Nokia has replaced several of the popular services that we get with Android, like Gmail, and instead switched them with many of the stuff from Microsoft’s portfolio (think Skype and its new OneDrive). Of course, that decision will impact those hardcore Google users, but for those who aren’t invested in it, the switch shouldn’t pose a problem.
Another thing worth mentioning is the way Android apps will be downloaded. Indeed, Nokia will have its own store where users can download and install some popular apps, but it’s really comforting to know that others can be side-loaded as well via its microSD card slot and file managing app.
Ultimately, we're curious to see how Nokia will improve and define its take on Android. Of course, there are several players in the space that have a tight grip with the experience, especially Google’s own stock experience, but this venture looks promising. With so many things for them to cover, we’re at least hopeful with the promising outlook of this new venture for Nokia.
Nokia XL screenshots
Processor and memory
Glancing over the handset, its dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 768MB of RAM doesn’t seem intimidating in the face of today’s quad-cores, but regardless of that, it’s enough to power the Nokia XL with little or few issues. Generally speaking, basic operations are executed in a decent manner – with buttery movements seen with things like kinetic scrolling in the homscreen.
In terms of storage, the Nokia XL boasts a paltry 4GB of memory, which again isn’t something spectacular, but at least it can be supplemented thanks to the availability of a microSD card slot.
The high-end Lumia line is still known for some of its camera centric smartphones, but the lower spec’d Nokia XL doesn’t have anything too peculiar. Instead, it’s armed with a 5-megapixel rear auto-focus camera with a ¼ inch sensor, f2.8 aperture lens, and an LED flash. For what it’s worth, we’re not having any high expectations with the results – albeit, we’ll wait to pass judgment until we see its final results. Around the front, there’s nothing more than a 2-megapixel count camera, which is the standard fanfare when you think about it.
Smartphones with 5-inch displays tend to be that perfect size for becoming flagships, but in this particular case, it’s nowhere remotely close in achieving that status. Nevertheless, we can’t forget to mention its amazing price of €109 ($150) when it launches sometime in Q2 2014 in emerging markets overseas. Sorry US folks, there isn’t word on whether we’ll see this one land stateside. Price alone is a huge value for the Nokia XL, especially when it’s a dual-SIM smartphone too!
We’re going to keep a close eye on how the Nokia XL pans out, seeing that its success is contingent on how well consumers adopt it – more so with its customized Android experience than anything else. That appears to be the biggest hurdle for this device! To reiterate, it’s a promising venture for Nokia and we’re excited to see how things develop over time with the smartphone.
a bigger take on Android from Nokia
1. noim1 (Posts: 297; Member since: 15 May 2012)
why is he playing with PicsArt ???? ha ha ha ha !!!
16. akki20892 (Posts: 3306; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
I'm looking at Sold Numbers Guys...........100 million and up.........(o) (o)
18. sgodsell (Posts: 1063; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)
Microsoft and Nokia are only using the Android name to get their sales and revenue up, because WP clearly can't do that for them. Just look at the past quarter will tell you WP sales are terrible. Microsoft is riding Google's coat tails, because Android was expected to sell around a billion phones this year alone. This was projected even before Microsoft and Nokia released these 3 forked older versions of Android handsets. Microsoft was telling everyone how terrible Google and Android is, but yet here they are going to use it to make sales and generate revenue for them.
24. Bernoulli (Posts: 1437; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)
is it really android? I mean it says it is, but why no google store support? that's just weird to me
2. Aplusk (Posts: 90; Member since: 10 Nov 2013)
anyone wanna know which popular apps are there on yandex store, then install yandex.apk on your android device and open it.
3. papss (unregistered)
Nice move m$/nokia.. Gateway phone for them
4. Rajanvir (Posts: 21; Member since: 11 Dec 2013)
is it running on a sailfish or android
whatever it is I LIKE IT
5. Nikolas.Oliver (banned) (Posts: 1574; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)
i wonder what version of version those phones are shipping with, nobody seems to mention it
8. papss (unregistered)
9. Nikolas.Oliver (banned) (Posts: 1574; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)
i suppose it will forever be stuck with it for the lifetime
19. Jason78 (Posts: 58; Member since: 10 Apr 2013)
Yes. This is not standard android, it is Nokia's forked version of android. In fact Nokia doesn't even call the OS android, they call it "Nokia X Software Platform".
6. andro. (Posts: 1936; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)
Currently using a Lumia 1020 for work and its a great phone aside from the live tiles,which i'v heavily modified beyond recognition to make them look somewhat attractive. The Tile appearance on these Nokia android aren't actually too bad from the off. At this price range the Xl will have some buys indeed.
7. Aplusk (Posts: 90; Member since: 10 Nov 2013)
Does the dialpad has native video calling option like symian phones or have to wait for sometime ?
10. aksa123 (Posts: 173; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)
Android and windows phone just don't mix, brother !!!
They're 2 different species !
15. networkdood (Posts: 6261; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)
It is a Windows style phone with an Android OS - anything goes with Android - they even have one that dual boots either OS...
11. picka_vi_materina (Posts: 160; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)
This is at core an Android OS, but UI is mostly from N9's MeeGo and some Windows Phone. Dialer is pure N9, locksreen is pure N9, notification center is pure N9, homescreen swiping is pure N9. Freaking Elop killing MeeGo and the N9. Lumia 1020 and 1520 were supposed to run MeeGo.
12. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 630; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)
Im excited to see Nokia adopt Android.. Although no play store..
It is good for people who dont care which OS they are using, unless it works fine like a phone & messaging device (whatsapp etc). Little facebook, Twitter, Gmail etc...
It is ideal for people who want to spend not more than $140-150 (like uncle, papa, mummy, GF/spouse etc).
I think I'll get one for my parents...
13. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)
I'll be totally surprised if M$ doesn't kill of the X brand as soon as the purchase is complete.
14. networkdood (Posts: 6261; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)
Wow, well, it is a start - I do not expect Nokia to make a high end Android phone as it would just hurt the sales of its Windows phones...matter of fact, if Nokia was smart (and most corporations are not), they should make only high end/high quality phones with the Windows OS, and leave the mid range to low end stuff for their Nokia Android line...
17. dritani (Posts: 13; Member since: 14 Oct 2013)
This one looks quite nice...I think it will be a success in emerging countries.Well done Nokia again, a mix of Windows and Android platforms, while always continuing to be yourself: that's something that only NOKIA can do. Love you, forever!
20. networkdood (Posts: 6261; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)
You better have yourself checked...having love for a corporation is a danger to one's self...
22. Avenger337 (Posts: 59; Member since: 14 Apr 2013)
Xl This model is a android phone with quotation marks, nothing ineresante and is limited with respect to a real android phone. I feel a bit disappointed but I'll watch the day when Nokia android laze one really.
23. Bernoulli (Posts: 1437; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)
it would be ideal if T-Mobile and mvno's were to carry it.
25. piko1 (Posts: 7; Member since: 25 Feb 2014)
Nokia XL is the good old geekish N9 re-born i run an Nokia E5 (u know the better e72) for 2 years now and i need to change it (i prefer e5 form factor but Nokia wont give us E6 successor any time soon ) so i will get this one instead i prefer the MeeGo UI but we will see it will be fun to play platform
27. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1054; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)
I think the Nokia XL modified a little is the Only Nokia X phones that will sell very well in the USA but to make it a strong seller in the USA Microsoft has to put The API's and oher software that will enable it to access and use Google play apps and google services. of course the Microsoft XL smart phones warrantees would be voided if the XL's user changes the UI and removes certain system UI tiles. most people wont change the UI if they could get and use Google services nd google play store apps. I don't think I is bad to have a smart phones with MS and nokia services and apps plus Google services and apps because PC's have that and it's Ok on aPC why not a MS XL smart phone.