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.
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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