Microsoft’s Android Phone: Nokia’s X, X+, XL

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While Nokia’s first Android smartphone, codenamed the “Normandy”, has been leaked and rumored to death over the past couple of months, there were many who thought it would never see the light of day. Microsoft has always seemed staunchly opposed to the idea of becoming a true Android partner, and it wouldn’t be the first time Nokia launched a device that ended up dead on arrival thanks to its operating system – we’re still upset about MeeGo.

But the Nokia Normandy has become the Nokia X, and it’s a very real phone; in fact, it’s three of them: the Nokia X, the Nokia X+, and the Nokia XL. 

Nokia Android phone

Designed as low-cost alternatives to the Windows Phone-powered Lumia devices, the three new Nokia Android smartphones are intended for sale in various emerging markets. There’s no ruling out bringing these phones to more mature Western smartphone markets (low-end Android devices are still incredibly popular in North America and Europe, after all), but it’s likely going to be through third parties and not an official launch.

Nokia didn’t go into the hardware too much on the new X smartphones – we’ll update this post as we hear more – but both the X and X+ (the differences between the two aren’t clear at this point) feature a 4-inch, WVGA screen with expandable storage thanks to a microSD card slot. Given the low cost nature, don’t expect much onboard memory; fortunately, flash cards are cheap.

The phones will be running forked versions of Google’s AOSP with a special interface known as ‘Fastlane’ layered on top. Fastlane mixes Android with some pretty obvious Windows Phone influence, with bars and tiles being the name of the game. Fastlane supports folders and widgets, and you can even resize your tiles, just like on one of the Lumia devices.

Nokia Android phoneNokia Android phone

In fact, if you saw these phones from a distance, you could clearly mistake them for one of the Lumia 500 series of smaller Windows Phone devices – though the Nokia X is quite a bit fatter.

There’s also a Nokia Store full of apps, and the company has partnered with Russia’s Yandex (a popular third party Android app store, similar to Amazon’s version) to provide access to apps not present in Nokia’s own marketplace. The two services are tightly integrated, however, and if you search for an app not found in the Nokia store, but present in Yandex, you’ll get a link to the app in the second marketplace.

The aptly named Nokia XL’s sole difference seems to be the larger display. Despite being bumped up to a full five inches, it still features a WVGA resolution and 2MP front-facing camera.

Nokia’s new X series, much like the Lumias, will come in various bright colors. The Nokia X will be available immediately for 89 euros ($122), while the Nokia X+ and Nokia XL will ship early on in Q2 for 99 Euros ($136) and 109 Euros ($150), respectively.

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