Ever since Nokia unveiled its X Series of Android devices, opinions are flying back and forth on whether the devices are good or otherwise. While it would be unfair to draw any conclusions without actually having used the devices extensively, here are the pros and cons of the range based purely on what we know of it.
Pros: All Roses
- A totally new flavor of Android, one that will be controlled by Nokia. Some might think that’s bad but we are going with the more-the-merrier line of thought. After all, Amazon did do a very good job of reinterpreting Android for its Kindle Fire series, and Nokia has the werewithal on both the hardware and software side to deliver something special here.
- Access to services like Nokia Mix Radio and Maps that are significantly better than anything Google has to offer in the same department. Six months to a year of unlimited music downloads, turn by turn navigation in a host of languages for a lifetime, some very nifty camera applications…this could be awesome.
- Great price tags, especially in the case of the Nokia XL – a device with a large display for under 110 Euros is very good indeed. And unlike in the case of other ‘local’ players who tend to cut significant corners (generally on the design and build quality fronts) when they reduce price tags, Nokia has managed to deliver excellent value even at relatively low price tags. Remember the E5, the Asha series and most recently, the Lumia 520 and 525.
- Good, solid design and products from an established and respected player at those price points. A bit of a derivation from the previous point, it is true, but then Android at the lower price echelons has generally been associated with so-so design, mediocre performance and often non-existent software updates and after sales service. Nokia’s track record in those departments is formidable. We still see people asking for a Nokia simply because they associate the brand with solidity and dependability. Blend that with low-priced Android and you have a winner.
Cons: The Thorny Side
- Not the classic, widget-laden interface Android users like. From what we can see, the interface is more Windows Phone and Asha than Android. Yes, we are sure people will find a way around it, but if you are looking for a classic Android skin with lots of glittery widgets, this does not seem to be it. Not from what we have seen so far.
- No access to Google Play, although one can install most Android apps on the phone. Nokia has put its own spin on Android, and that includes putting Google Play out of the device. Yes, you can install Android apps and there are alternative app stores, but many of the appy types will find this a bit of a deal breaker, we are afraid. That said, we bet someone will have some form of Google Play on the devices in next to no time, although how well that works might be another story.
- Fears that the hardware might not be quite up to handling heavy duty tasks. For all their design solidity, the X Series worthies are not exactly hardware monsters. Dual core processors backed up by 512 MB and 768 MB RAM could see some games/apps stutter. Yes, they should be able to handle most routine tasks well, but we can see well-entrenched local players brandishing spec sheets to sway consumers.
- Android fan boys will complain about the absence of regular, sweet-named Android updates for these devices. They did so in the case of the Kindle Fire, and we see the activity being repeated in the case of the X Series. Nokia’s challenge here will be to ensure that it delivers alternatives to the features being provided by “regular” Android updates through its own fixes. Judging by its record on Windows Phone and Symbian, it is more than capable of doing so. But that is unlikely to silence the complaints.