Yes, Nokia's X phones are Android-based, but will regular users know, or care?

Since the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is free for everyone to take, use and modify, any manufacturer can build a custom OS based on it - with or without Google services included. The result could be great, mediocre, or downright terrible. Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are an example of how you can build a successful Android-based device that doesn’t make you think it’s running Android.

As you’ve surely heard, Nokia unveiled a brand new family of smartphones built on AOSP at MWC 2014: the Nokia X, Nokia X+, and Nokia XL. Just like Amazon’s tablets, these handsets don’t promote Google services. Instead, customers are treated with lots of features and services developed by Nokia and Microsoft (HERE Maps, MixRadio, Skype, OneDrive and so on).

So we have three new Android-based handsets. Will regular users refer to them as Android phones? We’re not quite sure of that. If you take a look at the handsets’ official specifications over at Nokia’s website, you won’t find Android being mentioned there. Nope, not a single mention of Android. The Operating System of the new handsets is listed as the “Nokia X software platform.” Sure enough, the X phones are presented as being “your Fastlane to Android apps”, capable of letting you “discover the world of Android apps.” But, for example, BlackBerries can also run Android apps, and people still call them BlackBerries.

As  mentioned many times before, Nokia is targeting the X series at emerging markets, at users who may be at their first smartphone. These users, who are generally not too tech-savvy anyway, will probably just say that the X (or XL) is a Nokia, or they may even say that it’s a Microsoft phone - since it has many features coming from Microsoft, plus a UI reminiscent of Windows Phone. But we don’t think that regular users, the non-tech savvy ones, will say that the Nokia X(L) is an Android phone. And the truth is that they will likely not care about this too much. Moreover, Nokia probably doesn’t believe that it can attract Android users with these new devices. Customers looking for a handset that’s priced at around $100 (like the Nokia X and XL) don’t particularly mind if it runs Android or another OS, as long as the device provides at least some features and apps that are usually found on more expensive products. 

The X phones should allow Nokia - and also Microsoft, which will own Nokia’s handset division starting the end of this quarter - to fight the army of inexpensive Android handsets that flooded the global market in the last few years. As we said earlier this week, Nokia and Microsoft are fighting fire with fire with the help of this new series of devices. 

The Nokia X, X+ and XL are all colorful, well-built, and have dual SIM capabilities. They can certainly offer more than an Asha phone. The last time Nokia revealed Asha sales numbers was in Q3 2013, when the company reported that it sold "5.9 million Asha full-touch smartphones" throughout the quarter. Will Nokia and Microsoft mange to sell millions of X (smart)phones, too? Well, we're afraid that we'll have to leave this question unanswered until later in 2014.

references: Nokia X, Nokia X+, Nokia XL



1. Johnnokia

Posts: 1158; Member since: May 27, 2012

Yes, Regular users do care so much.. Even my Grandma told me ''Have you see the beautiful new Nokia?, they said it gonna be very affordable'' Just watch the hype about it everywhere. It is currently the second most popular phone after Galaxy S5 in GSMArena. Imagine, what would happen if Nokia produces high end Android phone!

2. Florin.T

Posts: 318; Member since: Dec 16, 2013

Um, the question was if they know or care if it's based on Android, not if they know or care about the phone in general.

4. Johnnokia

Posts: 1158; Member since: May 27, 2012

Yes Florin, Even here in the USA, where Nokia is not that popular like in other countries of the world , in my university, a lot of people talking about the first Nokia Android. Four of my friends want to buy Nokia XL from ebay once it realeases.

8. Tas09

Posts: 7; Member since: Jan 08, 2014

Johnnokia, you missed the whole point of this article pal. This article is NOT, and I repeat, it's NOT about the phone in general, rather it's OS and how it functions. And as you said earlier that your 'grandma actually cares', yes, that is the whole point of this article. Regular users do care about the phone's design and it's capabilities, but NOT what's making it all work, in the inside.

5. alterecho

Posts: 1106; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

If they know it forces Microsoft services on the user, they won't care.

16. sharks

Posts: 236; Member since: Feb 16, 2013

Don't forget XDA's developers. They will "fix" Nokia's X line to be a proper Android device with custom ROMs.

20. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

like how they are forced to use google? how every call i get on their slow droid, when they see the running process i get 'i dont want that...when did that happen...'. Freaking annoying as hell, not to mention the people that knee jerk at carriers cause all of a sudden google+ starts posting on their behalf.....

66. aldridhl

Posts: 77; Member since: Feb 12, 2011

like google and apple don't peddle their own services on their OS's..

15. jael206

Posts: 147; Member since: Jul 18, 2012

Yes, they will care.. It's not like "regular" users are less knowledgeable users. They will buy the phone because they know its Android, because they want to experience Android on a Nokia phone. Please don't insult the regular users that much; give them credit. They are getting smarter, and they want an affordable smartphone from a brand that they trust.

19. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I would say no they dont. Most people dont even know the word android. They have heard of it, but when you truly talk to them it is 'oh i dont know'. I deal with this every day, every freaking day at work. The people that care know about 4 os's, people that dont, know it as a phone, smartphone that is.

55. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

Wrong... The average user does not give a flying rats a$$... Just ask your girlfriend.

65. jael206

Posts: 147; Member since: Jul 18, 2012

Lol.. My girlfriend loves her Sony Xperia. Nice try bro

27. ScottSchneider

Posts: 336; Member since: Dec 06, 2011

I have a Question... (Jus saying) If this phone sells in 10's of Millions, how will the market share be? Since it is not running Playstore.. Will the Market Share for Android go up? Confused...

43. Aplusk

Posts: 120; Member since: Nov 10, 2013

i dont know, wheather i should still call it android. its a linux based kernal apps running everywhere and everyone using it and wants a sweet pie of it. its no more google android. there are android based set top box, yandex app store, mobogenie market, 1mobile market. and i dont no all these have link to single market share called android.

44. garlic456

Posts: 251; Member since: Dec 24, 2012

I think yok are wrong. This phone is popular, only because of its price/performance awesomeness. No one would buy if it was $700

46. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Let the war begin guys. Take over Nokia device department and make our own high end android. Nokia and Android can make it legendary phone and unbeatable.

3. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Yes, regular users will care! Because it's a Nokia phone running Android, this is what many people want from Nokia, this is what we desire.

10. Tas09

Posts: 7; Member since: Jan 08, 2014

Not actual Android, a forked, and in a very good way, version of Android, if that's what you mean. And we? Oh no, I am pretty much sure that no 'Droid' fans would want a phone without Google Play services; what's the actual point in that? But it's always good to come up with something new.

11. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Yeah, the Nokia X series have no Google Play services which is quite disappointing. But here it is, Nokia phone running Android, what else do you want?

28. dexter_jdr

Posts: 1163; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

heads or tails, its still a coin. forked or not, its still android. MINDFUKC

45. TechBizJP08

Posts: 495; Member since: Mar 25, 2013

How do you say its not a real Android? What's a real android? You asked for an Android Nokia, now here it is. Still you whine? WTF you're at?

35. Epicness1o1

Posts: 309; Member since: May 30, 2013

I'm sold if they make a Nokia X with 41 MP :D

39. dexter_jdr

Posts: 1163; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

everyone wanted that plan

6. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

If only they've done this way back when they're still a Finnish company. Maybe just maybe they're still a the top of mobile industry. I'm not really into Nokia when Microsoft acquired it.

9. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

My guess is people who don't follow tech sites like us will think it's "another version of Windows." MS better make sure it integrates with Windows services smoothly or it may backfire.

13. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

If the Nokia X's are recognized as Android devices, I think a lot of people who buy them will be pissed off, because to them Android means Google, and they'll expect the PlayStore. A parallel can be drawn with Amazon's Kindle, but people that buy the Kindle don't expect the Play Store. Associating a "Nokia X Software Platform" with "Fastlane to Android apps" is extremely misleading. While it might technically be true, the average user won't understand what this actually means, and will be disappointed in what they get. The same goes for associating it with WP, since it's NOT true, and they definitely won't get what they expect. Ask a dozen or two Android phone owners if they know what sideloading is, and you might get one or 2 that do. As for BB10...well, I've never even met anyone who uses one, let alone one that knows about using Android apps on it.

22. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I'm just not understanding the point of these phones. The price of the Nokia X is right about the same as the Lumia 520, so there's no difference there. Android takes more resources to run smoothly than WP does, especially since they're using 4.1, and these phones are specd like they were released in 2011 so I can't imagine a smooth experience. Finally, to access all of these android apps, you're gonna have to sideload them, and if they're not tech savvy that might not work well. As far as the BB comparison relating to being able to access android apps, the difference is those phones run BB OS with an emulator to run said apps. These phones will be running a forked version of android to run android apps. For a better analogy, it would be similar to the story about making android apps be able to run on WP devices. Just saying.

24. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Emerging markets, a phone that will go on sale probably before the update to 8.1 and less hardware constraints. As well, MS pays nothing to google, gets a free OS in the process. People concered about the 'app' gap will be drawn to this because it will be most likely cheaper than other droids. There is a reason walmart barely kep the nokia 521 in stock here in my town that has 8 super walmarts. I still cant find them on the shelves in most stores, and the 70$ asking price is a steal and a half when you box them up and put it up on the shelves. Most people dont care what OS it is running. No one cares that those 50$ black friday droid tablets were nearly useless, all they cared was that they were $50 and their kids could watch netflix and play angry birds. They didnt care that they couldnt use the tablet without first having a gmail account, that for some odd reason the tablet didnt let them setup and had to link an existing account. What they cared about was $$$$$$ and how much they dont have to spend.

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