Nokia’s Android Phones: Too Little, Too Late

Nokia X Family

These are not the Droids you’re looking for…

Today Nokia finally revealed the “Normandy” device that leaked on Twitter last November, showing off not one but three Android-powered smartphones at Mobile World Congress. For the Nokia faithful who have long dreamt of an Android-powered Lumia there’s little if anything here to get excited about, IMHO. But I’ll let you decide for yourself.

First, an introductory video:

Links to the official product pages at Nokia:

And a quick rundown of the specs, courtesy of Nokia Conversations:

  Nokia X Nokia X+ Nokia XL
Screen 4-inch IPS LCD, 800 x 480px 4-inch IPS LCD, 800 x 480px 5-inch IPS LCD, 800 x 480px
RAM 512MB 768MB 768MB
Storage Up to 32GB MicroSD Up to 32GB MicroSD; 4GB card included Up to 32GB MicroSD; 4GB card included
Rear camera 3-megapixel fixed focus 3-megapixel fixed focus 5-megapixel with autofocus and flash
Front camera 2-megapixel
Processor 8225 Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz Dual Core 8225 Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz Dual Core 8225 Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz Dual Core
Networks ESGM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900WCDMA 900 / 2100 ESGM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900WCDMA 900 / 2100 ESGM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900WCDMA 900 / 2100
Dimensions 115.5 x 63 x 10.4mm 115.5 x 63 x 10.4mm 141.3 x 77.7 x 10.8mm
Weight 128.66g 128.66g 190g
Standby time 2G = Up to 28.5 days / 3G = Up to 22 days 2G = Up to 28.5 days / 3G = Up to 22 days 2G = Up to 41 days / 3G = Up to 26 days
Talk time 2G = Up to 13.3 hours / 3G = Up to 10.5 hours 2G = Up to 13.3 hours / 3G = Up to 10.5 hours 2G = Up to 16 hours / 3G = Up to 13 hours

Right away, you’ll notice that there’s no 3G support for the Americas (all models can take two SIMs though). And there is no device in the X family with an HD screen, or even a gigabyte of RAM.

Also, what the above chart won’t tell you is that there is zero Google presence on any of these handsets; Microsoft services like Bing Search and Outlook email will replace the usual Google products, and Nokia will be curating its own virtual marketplace for Android apps.

Why?

With Microsoft set to take over Nokia’s handset business in the very near future the question has to be asked, why even bother with the X family at this point? Surely it will be pulled from the market at the earliest opportunity by Nokia’s new owners…

One theory about the X family’s existence comes from Chris Ziegler, a writer at The Verge:

I’m still of the opinion that nokia’s android project is a giant middle finger to the microsoft acquisition

Tomi Ahonen, longtime critic of the Elop-era Nokia, goes quite a bit further:

What does it mean that Nokia now launches 3 Android smartphones at the world’s largest telecoms fair? It means that Windows Phone is totally dead.

For me this is very reminiscent of Nokia’s switch to Windows Phone just as their Linux-powered N9 was making its way to store shelves. Maybe Nokia is just cleaning house, bringing the work of a small Android development team to market just because it’s there — even if the products are at complete odds with the company’s broader sales strategy.

At any rate it’s hard for me to get super-excited for a line of low-powered smartphones that won’t even work here in Canada. What do you make of the X family?