Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: Nokia X - Your Budget Smartphone Envies it!

Pros: Forked Android OS on a Nokia Phone, Brand Value & Nokia Reliability, Affordable Pricing.
Cons: So near and yet so far with respect to Android, Slightly dated hardware, Longing for a better camera.

The Nokia X has been launched in India in March 2014 with a price tag of Rs. 7,000. The much awaited and speculated ‘Android’ phone from Nokia is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8225 Snapdragon S4 Play chipset, Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A5 CPU, 512 MB RAM, Adreno 203 GPU, 4 GB internal memory with SD card support upto 32 GB, 3 MP primary camera, 4.0 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen and forked version of Android 4.1.2 called Nokia X Software Platform v1.


Geoffrey Chaucer known as the Father of English literature coined the phrase “Better late than Never” in one of his literatures several years back. This perfectly suits for Nokia X, an attempt by the finnish giant which is now part of Microsoft, to mark its territory in the world of Android Smartphones albeit in a different avatar.

Android has been the buzz word ever since touch screen ‘Smartphones’ came into existence. Everyone these days wants to buy an Android phone, sell an Android Phone, and develop apps for Android phone, and what not. So what’s in store for manufacturers who have kept themselves at bay from something which is simply in people’s mind and heart? Nokia is probably the only major mobile manufacturing company in the world which didn't chose Android as its prime mobile OS for unknown and strange reasons, mostly political in nature. Anyways let’s have a closer look at Nokia’s first ‘Android’ attempt.

Screen & Build Quality

Nokia phones are always known for sturdy build quality and Nokia X is no exception. It is made up of fine grade plastic with colourful removable back covers. Nokia X feels solid in hand, there are no signs of cost cutting as such in terms of overall build quality which is very good. It is light and look wise it is no downer as well. Nokia X has 4.0 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with resolution of  480 x 800 pixels and pixel density of ~233 ppi. Day time screen performance is below par. For indoor use, screen quality is good with respect to colors, contrast and brightness levels. Reading text, watching videos and photos on Nokia X is a comfortable experience.

There is no front camera on Nokia X. It has couple of sensors integrated above screen for light & proximity sensing. There is a single capacitive back/home button below the screen which on upon holding it for couple of seconds will bring you to home screen from anywhere while single tap will go back to previous screen. This somehow reminds me of the iPhone’s only one button below the display concept. On the back there is a 3.0 megapixel camera minus a flash. Nokia logo is imprinted vertically and a loudspeaker is placed on lower right side of the back panel.

Camera, Buttons & Call/Audio Quality

Nokia X is equipped with a fixed focus 3.15 MP primary camera with sensor size of 1/5'' capturing images at 2048 x 1536 pixels. The camera supports basic features like panorama mode and face detection. It does not have a LED flash. The camera can also record 480p videos @30fps. Having a fixed focus camera means the absence of touch focus and autofocus features. Fixed focus of cameras generally gives higher depth of field. Image quality is good for a 3 megapixel camera. Indoor photo quality is nothing to write home about. The camera is not very good for clicking sharp textual matter.  Nokia could have equipped a 5 megapixel unit for a much better photography experience.

Nokia X has a volume rocker and power button on the right hand side of the phone. There is no button on left hand side. On the top there is a 3.5mm audio port while usb cum charging port is located at the bottom. Speaker output is not very impressive as the audio quality degrades as the volume goes up. Nokia X comes with standard ear phones. Call quality wise, Nokia X is good just like any other Nokia phone with clear vocals at both ends.

OS/Performance and Battery

This is most significant portion of the review because this where all it matters. An Android operating system running under the hood of a NOKIA mobile phone is the thing which will raise your eyebrows. Nokia has made a very good use of open source concept. Instead of developing something from scratch, they have utilised the existing Android Open Source Project and removed all google associated services by implementing their own services and launcher. For example there is Nokia’s own app store instead of google playstore on Nokia X because of which some apps may not be available for it. But one can use external apk file to install any app provided it can run on Nokia X’s entry level hardware. Google play store can also be installed after rooting the phone.

Nokia X Software Platform v1 as they call is based on Android 4.1.2 which is quite dated. Basic apps are preinstalled on the phone while most others can be downloaded through Nokia’s store. The user interface is hybrid in nature inspired from Nokia’s own Asha platform and Windows OS. User interface is however quite user friendly and this what is very important in a phone especially when it is running a fresh form of an operating system. It will be interesting to see how Nokia will update this version of OS in future since 4.1.2 is quite old now.

Nokia X is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8225 Snapdragon S4 Play chipset, Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A5 CPU, 512 MB RAM, Adreno 203 GPU and 4 GB internal memory with SD card support upto 32 GB. While the specifications does not appear to be very exciting on paper but in real world, Nokia X performs just fine. Overall performance is at par. It doesn’t lag under normal use but don’t expect very snappy performance either. One must remember the segment to which this phone belongs and don’t set the expectations too high. For general use, Nokia X is just fine.

Nokia X has a removable 1500 maH battery which will easily last for a day with mix use of calling, data services, camera use etc. It’s a dual sim phone claiming to have standby time of 17 days, so overall battery life will be acceptable. Nokia provides 1 year manufacturer warranty for Phone and 6 months warranty for in the box accessories.


Too little, too late? No!

While Nokia has definitely lost the opportunity of grabbing the market share by not implementing Android as its main stream mobile OS on time but with this phone they have made a bold attempt by customising the Android OS in such a way that they neither have to use google’s services nor have to limit the capabilities/ease of use of Android OS. With Nokia now a unit of Microsoft, it will be interesting to see the future of this phone considering the fact Microsoft will have its focus on Windows mobile OS. Anyhow, Nokia X is a perfect phone for the first time smartphone users with a budget of 7k. It gives you best of both world i.e. Nokia reliability and Android’s convenience. Think Digital recommends Nokia X.

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality ****
Screen ***
Performance ***
Value for Money ****

Overall ****

Specs at a glance

4.0 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with resolution of 480 x 880 pixels (~233 ppi pixel density) 

Qualcomm MSM8225 Snapdragon S4 Play chipset, Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A5 CPU Adreno 203 GPU
512 MB RAM
4GB Internal memory + SD card support upto 64 GB
3 MP Primary camera
Network Type
Dual SIM, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 3.0 GPS, GPRS/EDGE, 3G
Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery
Forked version of Android 4.1.2 called Nokia X Software Platform v1
115.5 x 63 x 10.4 mm
129 grams