Nokia has unveiled a new series of smartphones running Android rather than Windows Phone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, confirming speculation it was secretly working on an Android smartphone.
The news is all the more peculiar in light of Microsoft’s announcement in September last year to purchase Nokia’s devices and services division for $US7.2 billion, with the Android operating system based on a Linux kernel.
Assuming the new product isn’t scuttled when Microsoft takes control of Nokia in April, the new product will see the Windows maker selling a Linux-based product.
However, the new smartphones, dubbed the Nokia X series, will not come pre-loaded with Google’s Play app store or any of its cloud-based services, such as Gmail or YouTube.
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Instead, the new devices will use a new Nokia app store, and be tied in with Microsoft’s cloud-based services, including OneDrive and Skype.
Users will also be able to sideload apps or use alternative app stores, such as Amazon’s Kindle marketplace.
There will be three smartphones in the range, including the Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL, which will be aimed at the low-end of the smartphone market
The Nokia X will be rolled out immediately across the Asia-Pacific region, as well as Europe, India, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and come with a price of just €89 unsubsidised.
The Nokia X+ and XL will be released during the second quarter of 2014 and be priced at €99 and €109 unsubsidised, respectively.
Being entry-level 3G-only devices, the Nokia X and X+ will feature an 800 by 480 pixel 4-inch display and a 3-megapixel main camera.
Meanwhile, the Nokia XL will feature a larger 5-inch display and a 5-megapixel camera.
In terms of memory, the X will feature 512-megabytes of RAM, upgraded to 768-megabytes on the X+ and XL, while all the devices will include 4 gigabytes of storage memory, expandable through microsSD.
The Nokia X and X+ will be available in Lumia-style bright green, bright red, cyan, yellow, black and white cases. The XL will be available in bright green, orange, cyan, yellow, black and white.
Industry analyst and former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen says the move represents a major blow to the Windows Phone platform, which was implemented by former Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop.
“If the world’s largest supplier of Windows Phone based smartphones – Nokia – which for a year has made nothing but Windows Phone smartphones – and the partner that will be taken over by Microsoft – now launches Android, it means only one thing.
“That Windows Phone is so dead, Nokia would rather take the extra costs of launching on a new platform – rather than using Windows Phone for one last time! Talk about Elop setting Nokia’s ‘platforms on fire’
“Windows Phone cannot serve emerging market needs, so Android is needed there. And what of the apps, the ‘ecosystem’ that Elop tried to sell us? Now we see that Windows Phone is such a clown-show as an ‘ecosystem’ that Nokia’s latest smartphones run desperately to the Android market where the most apps reside.”