One of the forefathers of the modern phone industry, Nokia is revered by many to this day for the level of build quality of its devices, and yet that didn't help the company when it was caught off guard by the stratospheric surge in demand for smartphones. Many thought that the Finnish company made all the wrong decisions, especially when it decided to go for an infant of an operating system in Windows Phone. The thought of what Nokia could have been like if it instead at least had hedged its bets, and adopted Android as well, is still stuck at the back of the heads of many industry watchers, not to mention fans.
We won't be having a miraculous remake of history today – it's too late for that – but we all finally have the opportunity to see what Nokia hardware powered by Android feels like. With its X-line, Nokia surprised many by finally seeing fit to experiment with Android, though hardheaded as the company is, this is still a fork of the platform. The 4-inch, dual SIM entry-level Nokia X that we'll be looking at today, then, comes with all the signature Nokia services like its app store and HERE Maps, but none from Google. There's no Play Store, no Google Maps, and many, many more. And while there's a degree of inter-compatibility (ergo, normal Android apps will usually run just fine on the Nokia X's software), it's still a halfhearted stab at the world's most popular mobile OS. Is that necessarily a bad thing? We were very intent on finding out and share our impressions with you, so keep on reading.
In the box:
A power plug with a permanently-attached microUSB cable
The Nokia X borrows inspiration heavily from the Lumia 525 and Asha 503 – the X is a typical rectangular slab with sharper-than-average corners and excellent build quality
Whether it's because it is a near-flawless look-alike to the latest Asha 503, or because the Asha, in turn, draws inspiration from Nokia's Lumia 520/525, we felt like we knew the Nokia X from the get-go. The X inherited the singular capacitive 'back' button from the the Asha line, and the rectangular frame with its moderately sharp edges. The removable rear shell is made of solid matte plastic, same as the buttons on the right side of the X. Both the volume rocker and the power key provide profound feedback, and there's a nice amount of travel to them.
Handling the Nokia X is easy – the small device is perfect for one-handed use – but we couldn't shake off the feeling that we're using a toy phone. And it's not just the jubilant palette of color options – it's also the profoundly plastic, but very solid exterior that made us feel like we're operating a reinforced, child-proof piece of hardware. On the bright side, while there's no arguing this looks and feels like an entry-level device, the overall build quality is impressive.
Reflective, dim, and completely off when it comes to proper color reproduction
When looking at the 4-inch 480x800 pixel resolution IPS display on the Nokia X, the results speak for themselves, and align very well with our initial impressions. For starters, this isn't the sharpest panel out there, though at 233ppi, we didn't find much reason for complaint.
But it's in color reproduction that the panel totally disappoints – it's got a very cold color temperature of 9320K, resulting in a noticeably bluish fringe throughout. This problem is especially noticeable when the display has to render differing shades of gray. But that's not all – specific colors, like magenta and cyan, are seriously messed up. Greens and reds are also problematic.
Worse yet, the display isn't very bright, managing 359 nits at its very best. This, combined with the highly reflective glass on top of the display, amounts to a frustrating outdoors viewing experience. It's also relatively bright even at the lowest setting, meaning that usage in complete darkness may tire out your eyes quickly.
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