It’s official. Nokia’s long-rumored Androids are finally a reality.
Yes, Microsoft’s $7 billion purchase of the Finnish phone maker is still proceeding as planned. But that didn’t stop Nokia today from pulling the curtains off the plastic and colorful Nokia X line, which, at first blush, looks an awful lot like Windows Phones until you take a closer look at the software.
The Nokia X, X+, and XL all run a heavily forked version of Android that looks like a bizarro Windows stepchild from an alternate reality, with Windows OS’s confetti-like tiles taped over Google’s engine. “What we’ve done is we’ve built the Nokia X software platform on standard Android open source,” said Nokia marketing director of mobile Neil Broadley, “and then on top of that we’ve built the Nokia user experience layer.”
Spec-wise, the phones are unremarkable. The XL has a five-inch screen; the X and X+ are four inches. Their rear-facing cameras top out at 5 megapixels, and the Nokia X has just 4GB of storage with 512MB of RAM. That’s all by design: The Nokia X line isn’t intended to take on the Galaxy S and iPhones of the world. Markets like North America and Japan won’t even see it.
Rather, Nokia hopes to penetrate “key, fast-growing emerging markets” in India, China, Indonesia, Russia, and the like. In Eastern Europe, for example, the X will sell for €89 ($122). As for what the experience might be like, the Verge reports that Nokia is creating its own app store where it will curate “hundreds of thousands” of Android-ish apps, since Nokia X users won’t have access to the Google Play store or stock applications like Gmail, Chrome, and Maps. Indeed, Nokia is still swinging big. We’ll just have to wait and see if it hits anything.