Nokia gives Android a Microsoft-friendly skin with the Nokia X, X+ and XL

Three new phones come carrying the newborn Frankenchild of Android and Windows Phone

Google was only mentioned once during Nokia's press conference here at Mobile World Congress, and that was when Nokia CEO Stephen Elop stated the company's new X range "uses Microsoft's cloud, not Google's".

As expected Nokia is making a move to Google's open-source OS, but it's not surrendering completely to the Big G. The colourful, affordable X series phones piggyback Nokia and Microsoft services on top of Android, combining Android's vast number of apps with Windows Phone's, er... tiles.

a store point

Like Nokia phones of old that ran on the Finnish phonefacturer's Symbian platform, the X series use their own Nokia store for apps rather than Google Play, presumably to save Nokia's soon-to-be-owner Microsoft from the humiliation of building phones that make money for Google. But while X owners will buy their apps through a heavily-skinned proprietary store, it will be possible to migrate from a standard Android phone and keep your apps. This might actually be a good thing - Android apps have always suffered from being less curated than Apple's neatly ringfenced App Store - or it might be a huge mistake.

More after the break...

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Seasoned Android owners might find the X series a trifle Microsofty for their tastes, but these keenly-priced phones aren't aimed at people who already own a Nexus 5 or an HTC One; they're aimed at, to quote Stephen Elop again, "the next billion internet users". Nokia sells cheap phones at a rate of about two skiploads a minute in emerging markets, and the growth of Windows Phone 8 is almost entirely down to budget smartphones like the Lumia 520. So, the X series brings low specs - the X+ has a 4in screen, a 3MP camera and 3G - but low, low prices, ranging from 89 (S$155) to 109 Euros (S$190).

That puts the 5in XL model at £90 (S$190), and combined with the nice range of colours, a good suite of preloaded apps (including the consistently good Here Maps) and Nokia's pleasing build quality, and these phones could be a very tempting proposition for first-time smartphone owners, students and skinflints. We'll bring you a full review soon.

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