Nokia announced its X, XL, and XL+ smartphones back at Mobile World Congress 2014, aware that the company would soon lie officially under the Microsoft umbrella. Many said that these three smartphones, priced at $120, $139, and $149 (89, 99, and 109 euros, respectively) were a sort of “in your face” at Nokia’s new owner, Microsoft.
It’s only been four months, but Microsoft-Nokia’s now back to unveil another Android headset: the Nokia X2. The Nokia X2 is an updated version of the $120 Nokia X, and is priced slightly above the X2’s predecessor ($135, or 99 euros). The price increase for the second-generation Nokia X, however, includes the updated specs in the new Android smartphone. First, the Nokia X2 has a slightly larger screen than the Nokia X (4.3 inches vs. 4 inches, respectively), improved RAM (1GB for the Nokia X2 vs. 512MB for the Nokia X), and a better processor (1.2Ghz, dual-core Snapdragon 200 vs. the 1Ghz, dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor). You also get an improved camera experience, as the Nokia X2’s rear camera is slightly better than that of the Nokia X (5MP rear-facing vs. the Nokia X’s 3MP back camera).
Despite these spec bumps, there are some features that remain in the Nokia X2 experience that have been brought over from the X. First, you still get 4GB of internal memory storage as well as the microSD card slot. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said at MWC 2014 that Android users who wanted to sideload Android apps could do so via the SD card – and that hasn’t changed. Nokia X2 users will, like the first-generation Xers, receive a “forked” Android experience that deprives users of Google Play Store access (like Amazon Fire phone users).
Being deprived of Google Play Store access may seem like a huge drawback for some, but Microsoft-Nokia sees it as a benefit. Since Nokia X2 users don’t have Google Play access, Microsoft can push its own cloud storage, maps, and other services despite the phone’s Android platform. As an enticing offer to intrigue Android users, Microsoft’s throwing in 15GB of OneDrive cloud storage – a large increase from the 7GB of cloud storage formerly offered to Windows users. Along with OneDrive storage comes some Xbox games, Skype, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft’s own navigation maps and services.
The Nokia X2 comes in green, orange, and black at the moment, but yellow, white, and dark grey options will arrive later. All this comes in a package of 99 euros ($135 USD) and is available now in select markets.
As for Nokia’s strategy, Techanalysis Research CEO Bob O’Donnell says that Microsoft’s move with the Nokia X2 is nothing short of genius: “It’s counterintuitive to most people, but I think it’s a brilliant move. What they are doing is breaking the services from the platform and showing that services can exist on multiple platforms.”