10 reasons not to buy Nokia X Android phones
Nokia’s much hyped Android phone, Nokia X has been launched in India with the company deciding to price it at Rs 8,599. Nokia has said the new phone will act as a ‘feeder’ for its Lumia phones.
It has priced the phone above the Asha feature phones and just below the Lumia smartphones (the Lumia 520 is available at a cheaper price ranging between Rs 7,500 - 8,000 unofficially via e-commerce retailers). The company will also introduce the Nokia X+ and XL Android phones in the next two months which are not very different from the Nokia X.
But do the X series phones from the house of Nokia offer a true Android experience?
Here are 10 reasons why buyers should steer clear of Nokia X phones.
An incomplete Android phone
Nokia X is based on an open source version of Android 4.1, but is stripped of everything you usually associate with Google’s mobile OS.
The phone doesn’t come with Google services like Google Maps, Gmail, Google Drive and YouTube, and even the Google Play app and content store. Instead, Nokia wants to force-feed Microsoft’s services such as OneDrive, Outlook and Skype.
You can download Android apps from third party app stores. However, Nokia X also doesn’t include Google APIs, which means that apps that use Google services like Maps or Wallet (for in-app payments) won’t be fully functional unless they’re ported to Nokia’s Store by their developers.
Confusing user interface
Nokia X borrows heavily from both the Asha series (which itself is based on Nokia N9’s Meego Harmattan) and Windows Phone.
It features two home screens – one that combines notifications, frequently used apps and settings, widgets and running apps, and a tile-based app launcher that offers shortcuts to all installed apps at one place.
Some of the tiles offer glance-able information, but are nowhere close to Windows Phone Live tiles.
We didn’t find it to be very intuitive. This mishmash of a UI will take some time getting used to, especially for the first time smartphone users and senior citizens.
More susceptible to malware
The absence of Google’s Play store and reliance on third-party app stores and sideloading means there are more chances of you downloading and installing a malware app.
Like most Android phones, the Nokia X disables installation of apps from unknown sources by default, but after you turn it on, you leave the phone exposed to malware, spyware and other malicious threats.
Android phones have a notorious reputation for not receiving software updates on time.
While it is not clear if Nokia will offer regular software updates and bump up the version of Android powering its software, it is worth pointing out that it will take more time to package the OS and customize it whenever a new version of Android is released.
Also, even the current version of Nokia X software is based on Android 4.1, a three generations old version of Android which has not been optimized for devices like Nokia X that feature low-end hardware.
Nokia X comes with a 1GHz dual-core processor and 512MB RAM. It comes with 4GB storage expandable via microSDcard. The Nokia X+ and XL come with the same processor and 768MB RAM, respectively.
With low-end hardware specifications and an old version of Android, Nokia X phones will offer anything but a sub-par, sluggish user experience. Unlike Windows Phone, which doesn’t need high-end hardware to run smoothly, Android hogs a lot of resources and tends to lag as more apps are installed and used.
Better value-for-money alternatives available
In the same price range, you can get phones like the Xolo Q800, Zen Ultrafone 701 HD or Micromax Canvas 2, all of which offer satisfactory performance.
Plus, these phones come with quad-core processors, bigger screen and 1GB RAM. These phones offer a full-fledged Android experience and have access to the Google Play Store.
If you’re not a fan of Android, Nokia’s own Lumia 520 is a great Windows Phone handset in the same price range.
Nokia X sports a 3MP rear camera with fixed focus and no LED flash. The absence of a flash renders the phone’s camera useless if you want to capture images in dark or low-light conditions.
The phone also doesn’t include a front-facing camera so the chance of taking a selfie is as bleak as the capabilities of the phone’s optics.
Absence of Google services
Google has a dominant presence in emerging markets like India and Nokia X doesn’t include the search giant’s apps and services.
More users prefer Gmail over Outlook or Google Drive over OneDrive. Google Maps offer the better location data in India complete with traffic and transit information, compared to HERE Maps. Microsoft services like Bing don’t offer the same level of functionality they offer in the US.
Google Now, Google’s voice-based assistant available on Android 4.1+ phones that also offers alerts based on location and user activity, is also missing on Nokia’s Android phones.
Uncertain future after Microsoft acquisition
Microsoft has inked a deal to acquire the devices business of Nokia and the deal is expected to close in less than a few weeks.
While Nokia X replaces Google services with Microsoft’s, it still is an Android-powered phone. Microsoft already offers apps for services like Outlook, Skype and OneDrive on Android and iOS, so the Nokia X is not helping the cause of getting more users.
We don’t see a plausible reason for Microsoft to continue making these phones.
Awkward positioning in the market
Sandwiched between the Lumia and the Asha range of phones, Nokia X’s positioning is pretty ambiguous. Of late, Nokia is facing the heat with budget smartphones from Indian OEMs eating into its feature phone pie. However, instead of replacing its Asha feature phones with the Nokia X, the company has decided to position it as a stop-gap.
Why should a first time smartphone buyer choose a product that delivers sub-par user experience?
We don’t understand why Nokia needed the X series, especially when the Lumia 520, its entry-level Windows Phone handset, is doing well and Microsoft has managed to populate its app marketplace with apps from Indian and global developers.
Perhaps, the Nokia X is just part of an experiment in the company’s R&D lab.