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.
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