It’s been rumored for months now that Nokia was prepping an Android-based phone. Long the dream of smartphone geeks around the world, Nokia hardware and an Android-powered OS make for a heady combination. What ships on the device, however, codenamed Normandy, isn’t going to be like any Android you’ve seen before.
Designed as a low-cost replacement for the dying-out Symbian share of the smartphone market, Nokia’s version of Android has more in common with Amazon’s Kindle Fire than it does Samsung’s Galaxy. Completely customized, every panel has been given a little of the Nokia flair, with all of Google’s services – maps, market, music, and so on – replaced with Nokia’s homegrown versions. Given their strength in mapping, it’s not all bad.
It does mean, however, that many Android Apps won’t run on the phones, assuming you can sideload apps in the first place. An increasing number of applications rely on the services Google provides in its closed-source binaries, and any that do won’t work on Nokia’s device.
The Nokia Android phone is coming. The real question is, will it last?
Given the upcoming closure of Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition, it doesn’t seem likely. Microsoft has a very strong ‘Not Invented Here’ policy, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see them throw out the research and development costs that went into the Nokia Normandy phones (designed to compete in very low cost markets such as India, where 93% of new smartphones in 2013 shipped with Android) in favor of low-end Windows Phone-powered devices.
With the success of Nokia’s affordable 500 series Lumias, that might not be such a bad way to go – but even though it wouldn’t be the first time Nokia released a single phone powered by a new OS (MeeGo, anyone?), we’d love to see Microsoft keep up the Android efforts.
Nokia’s Android-powered Normandy is expected to be revealed later this month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.