Saturday, 22 March 2014

Review of Nokia X

Hands on: Nokia X review

Microsoft tries to own all the Google juice

Plus +
  1. Sleek User interface
  2. lowest price
negatives -
  1. Low storage space
  2. same kind of design (Chunky)
  3. There is no Playstore



Design and interface 

The Nokia X is the Finnish brand's big effort to make greater waves into the low, low end of the smartphone market – and it's enlisted the help of Android to make that happen.
The Nokia X is a phone that comes with a fairly decent spec list for a phone that's coming in at €89 before tax (around £75, $120, AU$135) – we're talking a dual-core 1GHz processor from Qualcomm, 512MB of RAM, a 4-inch WVGA screen and a 1500mAh battery.
Nokia X review
However, it's important not to compare to this to the likes of the Moto G, as it's not meant for the more developed regions in terms of smartphone use. This is for areas where Android devices are sold at a much lower average price, but still can do the basic things that others can.

With that in mind, the Nokia X is probably a little better than OK. The polycarbonate body is fairly chunky, but in the hand it dovetails well with the smaller screen, as it would be hard to hold something that small and thin.
Nokia X review
The screen doesn't seem to suffer either – the contrast is strong, helped by the smorgasbord of colour on offer from the live tiles.
There's not a lot else on offer here in terms of ports or anything – the mandatory headphone jack and camera (which is only a 3MP option with no flash) are the only other items in a sea of matte plastic.
Nokia X review
But this isn't meant to be a phone that's all about design – the Nokia X is supposed to offer a differentiated user experience from the rest of the identikit Android phones on the market.
Nokia X review
To that end, I actually rather liked what Finland's top Microsoft subsidiary is doing – there's a nice fusion of Android familiarity and Windows Phone functionality.
The live tiles idea is really cool – it's essentially just a clever way of doing Android widgets, but while other launchers can make things look too complex, Nokia is doing things its own way and making it all seem a lot cooler.
Nokia X review
For instance, there's no 'Apps' key that shows all the little bits of software you've downloaded – now it's all in one long list that just endlessly scrolls. To that end, it can get a bit messy, so Nokia's method of creating folders is needed and something that wasn't possible on Windows Phone.
Nokia X review
It's nothing special, and you can't just drag and drop to create a folder, instead needing to tap an icon. But at least dragging the live tile icons for each app will allow you to move the order around automatically, and some, such as the gallery, will expand to show pictures in your album.
Nokia X review
There's even the chance to change the colour of some apps to match your theme – although the fact you can't do this to all of them means this feature is slightly negated.
You can also see more notifications on the lock screen than you might on other Nokia phones - it's a little boring in terms of design, but works well enough.
Nokia X review
The other big change is Nokia's Fast Lane – it's an odd change from the notifications bar, as it's essentially the same thing but one long scrolling page that can be accessed by swiping right or left.
Nokia X review
Nokia X review
It's cool in some respects, as it allows you to dynamically control things like the music player, and always keeps your most-used apps close at hand. However, there is still the same pull-down bar as on other Android handsets here, but it's only for changing settings.
Nokia X review
Come on Nokia, you don't have to change EVERYTHING.
Fast Lane isn't the same as the multi-tasking menu you'll get on the likes of most other Android phones - while long pressing the icon will shut it down, the app apparently still runs.
However, we noted that the multi-tasking menu is still there, but you'll need to install specific apps to get it to work - not hard, but its absence out of the box may irk some.


Nokia X review
The dual-core processor seems perfectly able to handle all tasks – it stuttered a fair bit when opening some apps, and in the demo the mapping application didn't like rendering 3D images at speed, but on the whole it was OK.
Then again, it feels like this should be a little cheaper as a device once you've dug a little more into it. It's likely to be pretty kind to that 1500mAh battery, so at least you won't be reaching for the charger every seven seconds.
Nokia X review
The Nokia X only features 4GB of on-board storage, and no microSD card expansion (unlike the Nokia X+, which has that option and 768MB of RAM to speed things up a little) which is a real worry when it comes to trying to add media as well as downloading apps – there's not a lot of room for much else.
Update: So it turns out we were fed wrong information on the Nokia stand - there is a microSD slot here, as you can see, meaning the only difference between the X and X+ is the extra RAM...we'd always recommend paying more to get that speed boost, but in some countries a few pounds difference in the price is a huge thing.
Nokia X review
There's also a removable battery in the mix too (like its brother) - I'm going to guess that Nokia will only release either the X or X+ in more developed markets, and it will likely be the latter to ensure greater app performance, given how close these models are.
Nokia's 3MP effort without flash is just that: non-flashy. It's a super-basic snapper, and it's almost so basic that I feel the Finns should be making a bit more of an effort, even at this price point.
However, there are some tweaks: you can alter the white balance and exposure levels ( a fairly easy trick for most chips these days) so you can start to improve the brightness when the darkness begins to set in.
Nokia X review
The pictures you take also append to a Live Tile on the home screen in a similar way to Windows Phone - although only if you've sized up the window, given you can make the Live Tiles bigger and smaller as you wish in most cases.
Nokia X review
Nokia has been very careful to remove everything from Google here and make it all about Microsoft – there are lots of similarities between the UI on show here and Windows Phone.
Nokia X review
OneDrive is front and centre, and with 10GB of storage on offer that might seem enticing for those stuck using Android phones with no access to Google's Drive.
However, there does seem to be a feeling this is forced into the phone – part of me keeps wishing that Nokia had just done this before signing itself away to Microsoft, as this could have been a really good addition to the Android game.

Early verdict

The Nokia X is a hard phone to work out – on the one hand, it's a super cheap handset and as such has the budget specs you'd expect.
On the other, it seems to be not much better than the Lumia 520, which is a Windows Phone handset and supposed to sit above it in the product line – on current prices, it's also cheaper.
There are some worries here even for the developing nations: that 4GB of storage could get eaten up quickly, and while Nokia is touting the ability to add third party apps through other stores, new phones can live and die by app availability and that could kill the Nokia Android project.
The Nokia X is constructed well enough, has a interesting new UI and is breaking new ground – but as a new phone, it seems a bit expensive for what's on offer.