Nokia Normandy: is Android going to kill Asha?

Nokia Normandy: is Android going to kill Asha?
Evleaks has been going pretty hot and heavy with the Nokia Normandy leaks these days; and, many of the images are looking like press renders, which usually indicates that the device is close to announcement if not release. The thing is that the more we see the Normandy images, the more we can't really tell if the device is running Android (as has been rumored) or if it is running Asha. 

The rumors since we first heard about the Nokia Normandy were that it was the first device planned from Nokia to be running a fork of Android, and that very well may be true. It is hard to imagine that Microsoft would allow Nokia to release an Android device, since it is in the process of purchasing the Nokia Devices and Services division to be its hardware arm for Windows Phone. But, given what we're seeing in these images, if the Normandy is running an Android fork, we have some serious concerns about the future of Nokia's Asha software. 

An Asha pedigree

The similarities are pretty easy to see when you take a look at Nokia's recent Asha devices compared to the Normandy leaks. For starters, just like the recent Nokia Asha 50x devices, there is only one capacitive button found on the front of the Normandy is the back button. And, just like the Asha devices that back button is designed to look like a left chevron (aka the less-than symbol "<"). Additionally, the mobile signal/SIM card symbols are found on the left-hand side of the system bar at the top of the screen, which is where you'd find them in Asha. 

This second part might seem like a small issue, but it has a big impact on whether or not the device is running Android or a fork of Android. In Android, notification icons appear in that left-hand spot and drop down in the notification tray; in Asha, only phone and messaging notifications appear in that top tray. It's hard to imagine that Nokia would put in the work to customize Android and either ditch the notification tray all-together (which would take a lot of work to do for what seems to be little benefit). Simplifying the tray to be more like Asha would be possible, and would certainly limit over-complication for those who may be switching from Asha to Android.  

Of course, notifications are shown in the Normandy images; they are found on the lock screen in rectangular bars stacked at the bottom of the screen. You can probably guess exactly what the next thing we're going to say - that's exactly where you'll find notifications in Asha. If you take a look at the Nokia 501 press shots, you’ll see that the lock screen looks almost exactly the same as what is in the Normandy leaks. The notification messages have been updated to be a bit more visual with contact images. 

The only place where Asha and the Normandy images really diverge is in the start screen UI and the apps. We’ve seen two leaks of the Normandy start screen and they each look a bit different, so the UI has obviously been going through changes. The Asha start screen has traditionally been a grid of circular app icons, but the transformation has shown it becoming more and more like the Windows Phone start screen. This would make sense since Microsoft is in the process of purchasing Nokia, and it also lends more weight to the idea that this is an Asha device, because the general thinking is that Microsoft might not want to adopt Android into its lineup. But, it is not inconceivable to imagine Microsoft adopting Android, because that strategy would actually have some interesting benefits for Microsoft.

An Android fork to replace Asha?

If the Normandy is running Android, it is clearly an Android fork that is designed to look similar to Asha with a splash of Windows Phone. But, if the Nokia Android fork is being designed to look like Asha, it follows that it may eventually replace Asha. If it didn’t, it would end up causing confusion in the market by having two devices that look like they are running the same OS, but aren’t. If it is planned to replace Asha, the question would be: why? 

We think the answer to that is pretty easy though: developers. Nokia Asha has done okay in emerging markets, but more and more there are true smartphone platforms making headway in those same markets. As Android and Windows Phone continue to gain share in emerging markets with low-cost devices there is less room for Asha; and, developers are going to be pulled in various directions not just by Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, but by the myriad other options like Tizen, FirefoxOS, BlackBerry, Jolla, and Ubuntu. Asha can only run fairly simple Java apps and web apps, so it makes sense that Nokia would have found it easier to scrap Asha in favor of Android.

The rumors have consistently talked about the Normandy as an Android device, not Asha. Evleaks was the first to out it as an Android device, and The Verge has also confirmed the device to be running Android, because Asha hasn’t been able to offer proper smartphone apps to low-end users. And, that brings us back to what we mentioned before: where Normandy really pulls away from the claims that it could be an Asha device is in the apps. Asha just can't run the type of apps that Android can, and doesn't have nearly the app ecosystem. 

The most telling thing in any of the Normandy screenshots has been the apps. The first shot we saw of the Normandy with something on the screen showed a Skype app running, and the recent shot of the start screen showed an icon for Plants vs Zombies 2. Neither of these apps would be able to run on Asha, but are obviously available for Android. And, there are hundreds of thousands of other Android apps that don’t include Google Play services hooks, which would be able to run easily on a fork of Android. In the end, it would not only be much easier for developers to create an app for Android and release it in multiple app stores like Google Play, Amazon, MIUI, but the apps available would be far more sophisticated.


Nokia has proven itself successful in the low-end/emerging markets with both Asha devices and Windows Phone devices. Android has also been quite successful in emerging markets and many times it is non-Google Android rather than an Android device packing Google Play services. Quite a lot of the Android devices found in China are from Xiaomi, which has the MIUI app store, and no Google Play; so, it's not out of the question that Nokia would be able to make this sort of fork work. 

Since we first heard about Nokia working on an Android device, we didn't really know what to expect. Now we're seeing what Nokia had been planning, and it looks like Android would be a replacement for Asha. But, the question still remains as to whether or not the Normandy will ever actually see the open market. We've heard that the plans are "full steam ahead", but we've also heard that the plans for the Normandy have been cancelled. Of course, after both of those reports, we've gotten new leaks from Evleaks for the device, and a note from Evleaks that the reports of Normandy's death have been "greatly exaggerated". 

Although Windows Phone has made up most of its market share gains recently in the low-end market, analysts are uncertain if Microsoft's best path forward in emerging markets is with its own platform. Windows Phone has been growing very quickly, but Android is still a much more mature platform, and manufacturers are quickly getting Android prices down to where they can compete with devices like the Nokia Lumia 520 ($99 off-contract). Microsoft may not have a choice but to use Android as a weapon against Google, just like Amazon has.




Posts: 399; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

Microsofts scroogle campaign will not allow Nokia to release an android phone.

3. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

You're right.. That would be kinda hypocritical on MS's part.. It doesn't make any sense..


Posts: 399; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

Yeah Scroo Microsoft. All android fans (like myself) should start a scroosoft campaign!

13. SandraB

Posts: 75; Member since: Aug 07, 2013

Why just dont make a Real ANDROID Phone ! This will save nokia from microsoft.

23. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

At this point I don't think there is any "saving Nokia from MS"... It's time for you to come on into the present with the rest of us... Teams are already in place and the purchase is happening. At this point wishing isn't going to change what's already in motion.. Sorry..

16. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

Lol.. I understand what you're saying, but Android fans making a "campaign" online where the vast minority of smartphone users will see it, or even be interested, won't shake up the market.. But, if it makes you feel better then I'm not opposed to it.. It's all for s**tz and giggles anyways.. I mean, it's not like we're going to profit from any of this silly competition.. Lol❕

25. gutuebogdan

Posts: 29; Member since: Oct 16, 2013


30. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

Unrelated, and immature.

27. gutuebogdan

Posts: 29; Member since: Oct 16, 2013


42. mousesports

Posts: 286; Member since: Feb 28, 2013

Wtf are you doing ? You dont even sleep ? You comment to every news on here ... wtf !!! Microsoft didnt aquire ANYTHING YET . So Nokia cand release phones with ANDROID . STFU !

43. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

Man. You sound mad.. Maybe you should get another hobby.. This is stressing you out.. Is it worth it❔... I'm really concerned for your health. It's abnormal to get that mad over a smartphone.. Listen to yourself❕.. When was the last time you had a checkup❔

46. gutuebogdan

Posts: 29; Member since: Oct 16, 2013


5. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Yeah you're right but if Nokia will release one it will not only kill M$ and everyone out there

8. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

i don't think so, normandy gonna kill asha. asha is affordable phone and i think normandy will sold more.

9. noler

Posts: 326; Member since: Aug 19, 2013

Yes, Android + MS Services + WP UI= scroogle

34. Nexus_bear

Posts: 32; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

Actually it can still allow it to work. Remember when Verizion was putting Bing as the default search engine for all its Android phones in late 2010-2011? So far there in an official Xbox music and live, bing, outlook, Skype, and office suite for Android OS. If it is forked properly it would be very easy to mimic the WP8 UI, include basic Asha color schemes and set Microsoft's services as default. That way it allows for users to learn to appreciate the WP is if that's all that they see and not know they are truly using Android. So that way when their next upgrade comes around they will see a high end lumia and not think twice since the general overlay is the same. It would be a brilliant market share Coup d'tat.

2. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

Negative.. If MS is to replace the OS on Asha devices it will not be replaced by a version of Android.. MS would use a striped version of WP.. WP is already optimized for extremely low end devices, and if you think about how MS has been aiming for this in recent years, then it seems as though the plan has already been in place by MS, and Nokia, for some time... This is the only logical thing that can happen. MS use Android❔.. Not likely.

28. gutuebogdan

Posts: 29; Member since: Oct 16, 2013


36. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

How? How, am I trolling❔ Is this a Android related article? Windows Phone related❔What is it❔... Nobody knows, so your guess is as good as mine.. I'm a troll for saying that I doubt it's Android❔.. Grow up, and grow a pair❕

35. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

And, that bottom left tile looks like a SkyDrive tile... That should be mentioned❕

6. sanychocoboy

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 14, 2014

These Nokia Asha devices have extremly low ( 64mb , 128mb ) ram as far as i remember. :0 and hardly 100mb storage these specs sure as hell cant run any version of android. :P

21. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

Not even very early versions of Android❔

7. mottykels

Posts: 387; Member since: May 15, 2013

Maybe there a new improvement on asha's os

15. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

That's also what I was thinking.. You might be right.. Like I said, we'll find out soon enough..

10. mobi_user

Posts: 152; Member since: Jun 18, 2013

It would have be so nice if Nokia would have continue with Symbian. And make the software evolve more. But nice it was taken over by Microsoft. They wanted to weeken the company internally.

12. Extradite

Posts: 316; Member since: Dec 30, 2013

They relied on Nokia to push users to use Wp which even Nokia is finding hard to jump users to Wp cause no one likes that platform, when iOs provides more and better accessibility... No matter what Ms does, iOs and Android will dominate are more known to public, cause the public did not like Windows-Mobile befor and Wp7. So Wp will never succede nor grow.. i find Wp a totall mess, not complicated, but everything is just weird, unlike iOs and Android it"s straight and gives you one option to lead 5 others.

14. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

This comment is so full of BS I don't know where to begin to call it out... This is a serious conversation. Were not here to just say fictional things just because we're trying to prove a point, and defend our OS of choice... Your comment holds no merit whatsoever..

24. gutuebogdan

Posts: 29; Member since: Oct 16, 2013


37. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

You got something real to say❔.. Didn't think so..

33. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Sorry for you lack of ability to hit 'settings' and find everything right there. I know my 8yr old can operate the phone. I know it's hard to comprehend a simple one click menu system. (i will keep calling you pathetic till i get banned because of your ill use of hate and words. I will keep this in quotes and call you out on all useless posts.)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.