Behind the scenes of Nokia's shift from global cellphone dominance to entertainment giant lies a dark little secret: The company's losing its grip on the tech. Case in point is the new X2 music phone, part of its Comes With Music experiment. It's cheap cell phone spam, plain and simple.
The X2 is a sort of down-graded version of the X3 and the X6. It's a candybar format device, with a 2.2-inch screen at QVGA resolution and it's relatively petite at just 13mm thick and 81g in weight. Inside there's support for FM stereo radio and microSD compatibility for expansion up to 16GB of storage. There's a 5-megapixel camera on the back (the same resolution as the rumored imaging unit on the upcoming iPhone for 2010) and the home screen has direct-access links to Facebook, and there's even an email client and Opera Mini aboard—though these are all crippled by no 3G compatibility and no Wi-Fi powers.
The real strength of the handset is supposed to be its music-playing powers. It "Comes With Music" and has dedicated music control keys, output over stereo Bluetooth, 3.1mm headphone jack (sic) and twin speakers. Yes, Nokia's made another of those annoying phones that a certain brand of social-awareness-challenged person likes to use to listen out loud to their irritatingly tinny tunes on a crowded train.
But right there, along with its $110 price before tax and subsidies, is the the problem with this device. It is nothing new, either from Nokia or any one of its dumbphone manufacturer competitors. The styling of the thing means it'd probably go unnoticed if it slipped through a wormhole to 1997 and found its way, alone, to the top of a forgotten bar stool in any old beer garden. Agreed, this phone's launch market is India (where its low entry price is an important asset), but in almost every other way this is product spam: The latest in a long line of almost, but not quite, identically specced devices that differ merely in the nuances of their uninspired styling. If this is indicative of cutting-edge design inside Nokia then this phone, along with the seemingly pre-doomed N8 smartphone, is a very bad sign for the company's future.