Nokia XL Android smartphone review: Hands on

Nokia mashes Android with Windows Phone, giving us a glimpse of what could have been…

Before Microsoft purchased Nokia's handset division, the Finnish phone maker was working on mid-range Android handsets under the code name Normandy.

Work on the project is complete and the devices have been branded Nokia X. Could they be the biggest surprise of MWC 2014? We took a look at the Nokia XL - at 5ins it's the largest device in the X family of handsets and is priced at 109 SIM-free. Check out our video demo below:

Nokia gives Android a makeover

Running a heavily customised version of the Android Open Source Project (4.1.2) - the interface has been made to look like Windows phone - no doubt inspired by Nokia's Lumia range. This is no bad thing, as Nokia has made the interface look difference and hasn't bloated the software with unnecessary gimmicks.

Nokia keeps it simple with one home screen. This lists all the apps and you can change the order, resize titles or group them into folders.

Microsoft apps such as Outlook, OneDrive and Skype are pre-loaded along with popular Nokia apps like Maps, Mix Radio and Music. Unfortunately, not all Android apps are available -  users will have access to 75 per cent of Android apps through a curated Nokia Store. Things are likely to have been different if Nokia wasn't owned by Microsoft, but it's better than having no Android apps at all. 

The most noticeable tweak is the introduction of Fast Lane'. Swipe left or right from the home screen and this will bring up the most recent apps you've been using as well as messages. It's a simple customisation - useful and not overbearing.

Not every software feature has been changed. The keyboard and settings menu will be familiar to Android users.

Low-price/Mid-range specs

Nokia is renowned for exceptional hardware and the X series is no different. You'd be forgiven for thinking the 109 price tag means the firm may have opted for cheap materials, but this isn't Nokia's style. The XL has the same high-quality polycarbonate casing as the Lumia range and is about as far from bargain basement as you can get.

Nokia has opted for a dual-SIM configuration, which is popular in emerging markets such as Africa but rarely seen in the western world. Nokia has yet to confirm if the dual-SIM variety will be launched in the UK.

Like Apple's iPhone range, the Nokia XL devices have one button embedded onto the front of the device. It primarily operates as a back button, but a long press allows it to operate as a home button.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1GHz dual-core processor powers the XL smartphone along with a modest 768MB of RAM. Internal storage is on the low side with 4GB - but this can be beefed up with a micro SD card up to 32GB in size.

The XL has a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash on the back, and a 2-megapixel front snapper. In an interesting move, Nokia will also allow the back cover to be removed. This allows users to replace the 2000mAh battery pack, and get access to the dual-SIMs and micro SD card slot.

Barring any software glitches, we think this is going to be a hit when it is released in the early part of the second quarter.

Featured Resources

Next-generation time series: Forecasting for the real world, not the ideal world

Solve time series problems with AI

Free download

The future of productivity

Driving your business forward with Microsoft Office 365

Free download

How to plan for endpoint security against ever-evolving cyber threats

Safeguard your devices, data, and reputation

Free download

A quantitative comparison of UPS monitoring and servicing approaches across edge environments

Effective UPS fleet management

Free download

Recommended

Microsoft resellers warned of Nobelium attacks on IT supply chain
cyber attacks

Microsoft resellers warned of Nobelium attacks on IT supply chain

25 Oct 2021
AMD and Microsoft fix Ryzen performance in Windows 11
Hardware

AMD and Microsoft fix Ryzen performance in Windows 11

22 Oct 2021
What is Microsoft Edge? Everything you need to know
web browser

What is Microsoft Edge? Everything you need to know

22 Oct 2021
How to get help in Windows 10
operating systems

How to get help in Windows 10

22 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans
Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans

11 Oct 2021
Royal Mint to recover gold from smartphones and laptops in world first
Technology

Royal Mint to recover gold from smartphones and laptops in world first

21 Oct 2021