Nokia just did the unthinkable: The company, such a reliable Windows Phone partner that Microsoft is acquiring most of it, has unveiled an Android phone, the Nokia X. But if you look closely, you can see why.
The Nokia X, launching today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, isn’t just your run-of-the-mill Android handset. The device, the first of several Android products from Nokia, is a budget model (just 89 euros or about $120) that runs a highly modified version of Android.
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Similar to what Amazon has done with its Kindle Fire tablets, Nokia has taken out all the “Googleness” from Android and replaced it with its own services as well as Microsoft’s. It’s even designed the icons to look like what you might find on one of Nokia’s Lumia phones.
“Nokia X is a new affordable smartphone family from Nokia,” explains Jussi Nevanlinna, vice president of marketing for Nokia’s phones. “X stands for ‘crossover’ between Microsoft cloud, Android apps and Nokia. When we say family, we really mean it. During 2014 you’ll see a number of products arriving in this family.”
Nokia hopes its first Android model appeals to — shocker — feature-phone owners in developing markets looking to upgrade to a cheap smartphone. The big advantage Android gives over its home-grown Lumia phones is of course apps. The platform’s app catalog is over a million strong.0