The Nokia X is one of the Finns' first ever smartphones to run Android and yet it may not be the Android phone you've been looking for. Perhaps you've been looking in the wrong place? Nokia will certainly like you to think so. To be honest though - never mind the Normandy codename - this is obviously not the D-day in smartphones.
The Nokia X was not made to compete with the best out there. It is the exact opposite of a flagship - low-cost hardware delivering reasonable performance at a bargain price. No Google services but Nokia's and Microsoft's instead. No Google Play Store but plenty of Android apps in the Nokia and other stores. No Android level of customization but a blend of Lumia and Asha simplicity. It's Android like you never seen it before. Intrigued?
The operating system is built on the Android Open Source Project, which in turn is been based on 4.1 Jelly Bean, but looks nothing like. On the inside and outside, this is more like Asha with a Windows Phone twist. Fastlane meets resizable tiles - a simple to use combo, user friendly and light on the hardware.
The absence of Google services is surely a deal-breaker for those hoping to get the pure Android experience on a Nokia phone. Of course, the Nokia and Microsoft's alternatives are there: HERE Maps and Navigation (instead of Google Maps), OneDrive (instead of Google Drive), Nokia Mail (instead of Gmail), Nokia Store (instead of Google Play). Ultimately, you won't be able to sync your Google Contacts and Calendar but Nokia pushing its own agenda is hardly a surprise.
The Nokia X has a simple objective: keep cheap droids at bay. But not Samsung's, LG's or Sony's cheap droids - it's the countless - nameless - dirt-cheap Android-powered smartphones Nokia worries about. They're a real threat to their Asha lineup in developing markets and entry-level Lumias elsewhere.
With the X-line, the Finns are sticking a competitively-priced smartphone in your hands, and save you the embarrassing disputes about how smart the Ashas really are. And hey, the Nokia X and its siblings have to be cheap not only because they compete with the cheapest of droids. It's because the Lumia line needs to feel like an upgrade - which is the ultimate goal.
Politics aside, everything else about the X-line seems pretty straightforward. Asha simplicity and Windows Phone aesthetics thrown in the Android shaker. Done teasing you, our traditional exterior close-up comes next.
Note: Speaking of the X-line, the Nokia X+ is essentially the same phone as the Nokia X, except with 768MB RAM instead of 512MB. Keep that in mind for the benchmark section, but everything else is the same.
Special thanks to Nokia India and BloggersMind for providing the review unit.