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MWC: Nokia X is "A Gateway to Microsoft" - But Runs on Android

David Murphy

[caption id="attachment_41355" align="alignleft" width="300"]The Nokia X - it's an Android, honest The Nokia X - it's an Android, honest[/caption]

Nokia has unveiled its rumoured Nokia X line of Android handsets at an MWC press event held this morning.

The range, previously codenamed 'Normandy', consists of three phones: the basic 4" X, priced at €89 (£74); the X+, which features more storage, at €99; and the XL, which features a 5" screen, a better rear-facing camera, and introduces a front-facing camera, at €109.

The handsets are built on Android Open Source Project software, but from a UI perspective they're fairly indistinguishable from Nokia's Lumia line of Windows Phone devices, using the same tile-based navigation.

The X will use Nokia's own app store rather than Google Play - presumably to avoid paying the license fee for Google Mobile Services, but also to keep the branding of Nokia's new owner, Microsoft. Third-party Android stores will be available, however, and users will be able to sideload Android APKs via a preloaded file browser.

To fill the gap left by Google's services, the devices will feature an array of preloaded apps from Nokia, including Here Maps and Mix Radio, and Microsoft, including Outlook, Skype and OneDrive - with the latter two offering X users free access to premium services. Nokia executive vice president Stephen Elop described the devices as "a gateway to Microsoft", but conspicuous by its absence is Office. Elop said that the range of Microsoft services on offer would be expanding in the future, but refused to confirm that this included Office, or commit to a date.

The X will be available immediately, with the X+ and XL due 'in early Q2'.

Asha, 2210 - but no Lumia

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The X is part of a wider strategy by Nokia to target emerging markets with low-price entry-level phones.

Nokia also unveiled the 2210, a feature phone preloaded with Facebook and Twitter apps and integrating Microsoft's Bing search engine.  Priced at €29, it's "our most affordable Internet ready mobile phone", said Elop. "At this price, millions of people will be able to connect to the internet for first time."

It also introduced the Asha 230, priced at €45, which Elop said is "aimed at those moving on from feature phones for the first time".

No new Lumia devices were announced at the event, but Elop reaffirmed that the Windows Phone devices were still its "primary smartphone strategy" - but these cheaper entry-level handsets could let Nokia reach the places Lumia can't.

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