It’s been almost a year since Nokia (NOK) first reported its plan to create a Google (GOOG) Android powered smart phone. The decision elicited mixed response from some, while others waited with baited breath. Finally the company unveiled its new creation, Nokia X at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona.
Why This Decision?
The X isn’t Nokia’s first venture into the smart phone market. To compete with Apple (AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF), the Finnish phone maker had produced the Symbian smartphone but unsurprisingly the attempt was unsuccessful. In February 2012 Nokia released Nokia 808 in the market which was its last Symbian Smartphone.
In January 2013 Nokia took another attempt to regain its lost popularity by launching the Lumia series powered by Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Phone, followed by the Asha platform in May of the following year. But the venture was again futile. The company realized that a drastic change was required and this brought ignited the idea of adopting Android finally.
How the Consumers Reacted to this New Smartphone
On Feb. 24, 2014, Nokia unveiled the Nokia X family with a modified version of the Android operating system — just before its merger with the tech giant Microsoft. The X family includes three devices — Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL. The device went on sale in various countries by mid-to-late March and initial response was favorable. The phones were sold out within minutes after hitting the Chinese markets, a report claimed.
But is it really worthy to compete with smartphone giants such as Apple or Samsung? Let’s take a look at what the device has to offer.
A Closer Look at the Device
At a glance the phone is no different from Nokia’s other cell phones; well-built with a sturdy polycarbonate body and matte finish. It is available in various bright colors, just like the Lumia series. Nokia X consists of a 4-inch IPS LCD display with 800x480 pixels resolutions. It supports dual SIM, sports a 3-megapixel camera, and packs a 512 MB RAM and 1 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor. Apart from all this, the handset is also customized with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS system.
From all this it’s clear that Nokia has not compromised on its hardware quality, but that’s probably the only good thing about this handset. The tiled home screen brings the look and feel of the Windows OS and the "live tiles" idea is nothing but an innovative take on Android Widgets. But this feature also means there isn’t an "Apps" key and all the software available is shown in one nearly endless scroll, making it a bit messy. The interface is cumbersome and the user can not just "drag and drop" an icon or create a folder – the highly preferred Android OS features. The dynamic media control, notifications bar and other features are uniquely Nokia’s. But the plethora of changes, far from giving it the "cool" factor it was aiming for, makes the phone non-user friendly to most people.
The phone’s camera, too, is utterly disappointing. Even at these prices, a 3-megapixel camera, with no flash, makes most think twice about going for the phone, especially Nokia enthusiasts who have already experienced Lumia’s 21megapixel camera. The phone’s biggest downfall, however, will probably be in the form of availability (or non-availability) of third party apps.
Android is famous for one reason alone: the multitude of applications that can almost completely customize the phone as per the user’s preference. As one reviewer astutely observed, "new phones can live and die by app availability." Nokia needs to overcome this hurdle if it wants to attract users.
Nokia’s first foray into the Android eco-system is a far cry from success. The Finnish company has launched a product that is definitely lackluster, both in design and feel. If this was the company’s attempt to make a huge comeback, then we are definitely disappointed. We can only hope that this experience will help Nokia to produce quality products in the future that will challenge the current market leaders.