The first Nokia Android phone released way back in 2014

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Nokia X Nokia XL profile shot showing front and back

In early 2014, Nokia was on the cusp of its merger with Microsoft. Below the management of then-CEO Stephen Elop, the corporate had flip-flopped between a large number of methods in a last-ditch try and retain its market share.

A kind of methods was the choice to launch a collection of price range telephones operating a forked model of Android. Sure, the Nokia X and Nokia XL that launched approach again in 2014 had been technically the primary Nokia Android telephones — three years earlier than HMD World’s Nokia reboot.

The Nokia X collection spawned 5 completely different telephones and variants. At launch, Nokia launched the Nokia X and X Plus. The one distinction between them was that the Plus variant had a further 256MB of RAM for a complete of 768MB. Alongside, the corporate launched the Nokia XL that introduced alongside a bigger show, the upgraded 768MB of RAM in addition to an even bigger battery.

See additionally: The perfect Nokia telephones

Later within the yr, Microsoft launched the Nokia X2 with a quicker Snapdragon 200 chipset paired with 1GB of RAM. This cellphone switched out the only capacitive key and added a house button along with the again key. In the meantime, China acquired an upgraded model of the unique Nokia XL that now packed 4G capabilities, a quicker chipset, and a complete of 1GB of RAM.

The collection launched at a time when Nokia had lastly stopped making high-end Symbian {hardware} and the corporate’s lineup included an assortment of Home windows Cellphone, and Sequence 40 units in addition to function telephones. Let’s take a better take a look at the 2 Android curios.

Bringing a knife to a gunfight

When Stephen Elop took over the reins at Nokia in 2010, he oversaw a transition away from Symbian to Home windows Cellphone to have the ability to compete within the high-end phase. Whereas that transition failed spectacularly for its personal causes, Nokia additionally floundered within the extraordinarily vital entry-level phase.

The Finnish firm’s entry-level hope was pinned on the Asha collection of function telephones run on an outdated Sequence 40 working system. In an ironic accident, the identify of the collection got here from the Hindi phrase for hope.

Nokia’s entry-level Sequence 40 lineup merely could not compete towards Android choices.

Nokia’s Asha lineup was competing towards full-blown Android smartphones and there was no approach a Sequence 40 primarily based cellphone was going to chop the mustard.

Enter the Nokia X and XL. Nokia’s entry-level telephones copied styling from the fabulous Lumia collection of Home windows Cellphone units and blended it up with the affordability of the Asha collection.

The unique pair price a considerably dear Rs. 8,399 (~$120) and Rs. 11,489 (~$150) in India. Not precisely low-cost for telephones that had been nearer to high-end function telephones than an precise smartphone.

So as to add consistency throughout the portfolio, Nokia even pulled in a number of the greatest elements of the Home windows Cellphone UI to make the Nokia X lineup really distinctive. Feels like a profitable mixture, proper? Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

Nokia X: A brief-lived experiment

The Nokia X collection debuted with an entire new interface paradigm that attempted to deliver the minimalism and ease of use supplied up by Home windows Cellphone to an inexpensive value level.

The {hardware} stood out for its distinctive design and made use of daring colours. It sported a minimalistic industrial design that was each a pleasure to carry and was surprisingly sturdy. Positive, there have been polycarbonate telephones since, however few have been capable of match as much as the wonderful hand-feel of the high-quality plastics utilized by Nokia. It really was a gamechanger.

Too many {hardware} concessions had been made to hit the worth level.

This being a price range cellphone, concessions had been made to hit the worth level. At a time when an honest 8MP digital camera was customary, the smaller Nokia X shipped with an abysmal 3MP digital camera with out autofocus. In the meantime, the bigger Nokia XL used a not-so-great 5MP sensor.

Nokia X in hand typing experience

The 4- and 5-inch shows had been nothing particular to take a look at, and Nokia added help for an At all times On Show mode, which was good to have.

On the efficiency aspect, the much less mentioned the higher. The Snapdragon S4 Play chipsets weren’t a powerhouse to start with, however the 512MB and 768MB of RAM on the Nokia X and Nokia XL additional added insult to harm. Competing units just like the Samsung Galaxy Core sported a quicker chipset and extra RAM at the same value level.

Suffice it to say that efficiency was not the sturdy suite right here and the telephones stuttered alongside even in common operation.

A forward-looking person expertise

Nokia X Nokia XL in hand showing size

Nevertheless, not all was unhealthy. Led by Peter Skillman, the previous head of design for WebOS at Palm, Nokia created a surprisingly forward-looking person expertise.

Dubbed the Nokia X Platform, it dropped the icons and widgets-based interface of inventory Android and changed it with a Home windows Cellphone-like tile-based look that made the cellphone accessible to first-time customers. In truth, there was no app drawer in any respect.

A fast swipe to the left or proper introduced you to Nokia’s “Fastlane” hub. A unified heart for all notifications and multi-tasking, it was a unbelievable addition that — as soon as once more — targeted on ease of use.

Since there was only a single capacitive button on the entrance, Nokia made the cellphone simple to make use of in a single hand and succeeded at it for essentially the most half. Like the usually forgotten Meego-based Nokia N9, the cellphone even built-in social sharing proper into the interface.

Learn extra: The rise and fall of Android’s greatest rivals over the past decade

Nevertheless, Nokia made the grave mistake of delivery the cellphone with out help for the Google Play Retailer and companies. Not like Samsung’s TouchWiz or different smartphone skins of the time, the Nokia X platform wasn’t only a pores and skin. As an alternative, it was constructed as a forked model of open-source Android and was a totally personalized tackle Google’s working system.

The cellphone had deep tie-ins with the Microsoft ecosystem of companies like OneDrive. Whereas the world moved ahead to an app-centered smartphone expertise, the Nokia Retailer was a rehashed tackle the Ovi Retailer on Symbian telephones.

A curated listing of apps vs the hundreds of thousands of apps on the Play Retailer, you may think about how that performed out.

The shortage of Google Play companies and re-inventing the app retailer was a foolhardy transfer even in 2014.

The corporate tried to woo builders onto the platform, however the complete effort was shortlived. By July 2014, a scant six months since launch, the Nokia X collection was canned for good. By then, Microsoft had accomplished its takeover of Nokia and went all-in on Home windows Cellphone.

The start of the tip

Nokia phone vs other phones

The demise of the Nokia X-series additionally signaled the tip of Nokia’s Android ambitions. By April 2014, the take over by Microsoft had been accomplished. A pre-MWC 2014 quote by Joe Belfiore rang true. Microsoft wasn’t enthused by Nokia’s use of Android and shortly wrapped up this system. Microsoft continued to make use of Nokia branding on Lumia {hardware} until October 2014 after which switched it out to Microsoft Lumia. The transition was now full.

Below Microsoft, the corporate shipped a variety of Home windows Cellphone-based inexpensive telephones with restricted success. Whereas there was nothing significantly mistaken with the {hardware} and the Home windows Cellphone interface nonetheless comes throughout as a breath of contemporary air, Nokia’s issues throughout generations of {hardware} remained the identical — a dire lack of app help.

There have been restricted takers for Home windows Cellphone units due to poor app help, which in flip gave little incentive for builders to leap on board.

At a time when smartphone builders had been getting their palms soiled within the profitable iOS and Android app ecosystems, there merely wasn’t room for a 3rd horse within the race. Microsoft tried to throw cash on the downside by funding the event of main apps like Fb and selling options for main apps.

Nevertheless, you simply can’t pressure an ecosystem. With out the apps, patrons simply didn’t present up and gross sales began drying up. With restricted customers, there was no incentive for main builders to spend time and sources making widespread apps for Home windows Cellphone units.

The writing was on the wall and the Lumia 650 in 2016 turned the final cellphone to be launched underneath Microsoft Cell.

Microsoft wrote-off 900 million {dollars} from its funding in Nokia and introduced its plans to exit the cell {hardware} enterprise the next yr.

Nokia X Nokia XL with Nokia 5.3 HMD

The Nokia model identify made its grand return to the smartphone house underneath the watch of HMD World. The corporate launched its first Nokia Android-based smartphone, the Nokia 6, in 2017. Nokia has been attempting to carve out a distinct segment for itself on the again of a inventory Android construct and a clear design.

Taking a look at its lackluster current releases just like the Nokia 5.3, maybe the corporate could be effectively served at discovering a distinct segment and going again to the place it began. A cellphone that delivers a wonderful construct, a deal with usability, and a forward-looking tackle software program.

Hey HMD, how a few reboot of the Nokia X collection?


That is the eighth submit in our “Do you know” collection, wherein we dive into the historical past books of Android and client expertise to uncover vital and fascinating details or occasions which were forgotten over time. What do you wish to see us cowl subsequent? Tell us within the feedback.

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