The Nokia X; What to Expect

Nokia Android

There’s only a few days to go until the Mobile World Congress 2014 and among a slew of devices aiming to take the trophy as the gadget of 2014 will be an unlikely Android contender; Nokia.

It is now looking more than likely that in the coming days, Nokia will launch the X, or known internally as Normandy, to the market. This budget phone will be aimed at taking on the low-cost phone market currently dominated by the likes of Samsung, and is traditionally a market that the Finnish giant has been more than capable of taking on with products like its Asha range and lower cost Symbian powered phones which are still running in the wild.

But what exactly does Nokia’s first and (probably) only Android phone mean, and just what will it be like? There’s been plenty of speculation, but we know that at the very least, it’s not going to compare to the Lumia line, largely considered to be some of the best designed smartphones on the market, just lacking the critical app ecosystem.

We know for sure that that it will be running a forked version of Android, not unlike Amazon’s Fire tablets, giving it quite a lot of access to the Play Store and being able to support accessories and native services that many Android users have come to rely on from day-to-day. This goes some way to what many former Nokia enthusiasts had long sought, a decent smartphone from Finland which ran Android, helping to right a wrong from two years ago.

We also know that it’s going to be nicely multi-coloured, thanks to Nokia’s quite cute marketing and heavy use of green throughout most of its promotional activities, especially the recent duck vine. Something like this would be fairly brilliant, many have tried pushing phones in multiple colours, but so far only Nokia have really hit the nail on the head from a design point of view.

We also know that it’s going to be fairly low spec, not the worst phone on the market, but it should fall somewhere between Asha and Lumia – sporting a 5MP camera, MicroSD card slot, 4-Inch screen and potentially running Android 4.4 KitKat – if true it would already place it well ahead of quite a few Android phones on the market, some of which are still running Ice Cream Sandwich.

It’s been considered very odd that Nokia should choose this moment to launch their Android handset, something fans have been long hoping for, ever since Nokia decided to partner with Microsoft. The phone answers a question Nokia faced when it faced its great OS decision, before making, what many (including myself) consider to be the wrong one. In many ways this looks to be Nokia’s farewell to the world of smartphones – ultimately becomes just another division of Microsoft.

[OPINION] Why Windows 8 won’t stop the rise of Apple

There have been a lot of rumors and leaks recently around the immanent launch of the new Windows 8 operating system, which is seen as Microsoft’s chance to shake off it’s image of clunky operating systems, with awkward menus and a basic design. This image was perfected in the 90’s with Windows 98, but is starting to now lose some serious ground in the face of growing tablet markets and increasingly more adaptable software. But will Windows 8 change the fortunes of the corporate giant?

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[OPINION] My top 3 productivity apps for the iPad

As a gadget freak, I’ve pretty much got every gadget going, but when the iPad came out, I genuinely didn’t know where it would fit into my life. Sure, it’s great for magazines and newspapers, but was that worth €500? What I have found however, is that the iPad does fill the role traditionally my notebook held; an ultralight portable which I use to write articles and work on, out of the house. While my MacBook Air now only leaves the door when it needs to, instead being more of a desktop.

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[OPINION] Could Nokia make it in 2012

It’s easy to forget, but before the iPhone and Android smartphones, Nokia was the phone to have. While still one of the largest mobile companies in the world, the age of the Finnish mobile giant has come to and end, or has it? Still considered to produce the most robust and well built phones, basic handsets continue to sell well in many countries. The major problem for Nokia has been the Symbian OS, an out of date software which pales compared to iOS or Android. That is until last year when Nokia announced its deal with Microsoft.

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Lumia 800 sets the Market Alight

The Nokia Lumia 800 is due to shortly hit our shelves here’re in Ireland, and might just hit out heartstrings. Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7 handset is seen by many as the ailing mobile giant’s last chance to turn it’s luck around, as well as the clock and rise to the top of the league again. It’s not an easy task, that’s for sure. We’re all getting pretty comfy with our snazzy iphones and androids, so it’s going to be tough to woo people away and back to what is still seen as ‘the old reliable’.

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The Nokia N8 that stole my heart.

Everyone remembers Nokia as the handset we all owned, it was the ultimate cool symbol before phones got smart and is still renowned for their solid build and durable nature. In fact, you’ll still see many people wandering around with the old 3210! But while we remember the 3210, Nokia has come on leaps and bounds, launching it’s new flagship smartphone the N8 earlier this year.

Nokia 3210

The Nokia 3210, one of the old reliables

I’ve had the chance to play around with the N8 and I have to say it’s an impressive phone. All that I knew and loved about Nokia came flooding back, the N8 really is a winner and I almost considered swapping my iPhone for it (almost).

Once you pick up the N8 you’re instantly surprised by just how light it feels, weighing less than the iPhone it’s almost featherlight. It is a bit more bulky though, thicker than the iPhone 4 and still again that bit bigger than the 3G. This is mostly from the camera lens on the back, but I’ll get to that soon. On the looks, it’s a real contender. Very sleek and smooth, it looks and feels durable, much more so than any HTC phone or the iPhone. You really do feel like you could chuck it at a wall and pick it up and go on texting.

The Nokia N8

The very solid, very sleek N8!

The screen is slightly smaller than the iPhone, and the difference between the retina display and the N8’s AMOLED capacitive touch screen is noticeable, the N8 display when viewing text heavy websites is not the easiest to read. The screen is responsive though, you can glide around withe relative ease, again it doesn’t feel as smooth as the iPhone but you get used to it and it does feel just as comfortable. You’ll also notice a small feedback vibration at each tap, it’s nice but gets a bit old fast and I haven’t figured out how to switch it off.

The camera is the most impressive piece of this hardware, 12 megapixel it’s truly a monster, the quality is perfect and unmistakeable. Streets ahead of the iPhone, it’s worth the little bit extra bulk on the back. Personally I’m trying to figure out how e camera quality can actually be so good when squeezed into such a light handset, it has some echoes of a Mary Poppins handbag.

The battery is also pretty strong, I’ve been messing around with this for a few days now all on one charge, and it hasn’t made a peep about running even 50% power. WiFi ANC 3G capable with two cameras, one front facing for video calls and 16GB storage natively with room for up to 32GB more using an SD card.

What probably let’s the phone down the most is the software. Sum Ian just never daunt onto the smartphone Market and just couldn’t make the leap over, hence the attempted jump onto Meego with the N9 and the Microsoft deal earlier in the year.

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9, big attempt to refine the N8 design

There’s a lot to like about Symbian ^3, multi-tasking out of the box, a lot of focus given to mobile data with social networks, news feeds and mail all being accessible from the home screen from the moment you switch it on. While it’s a nice operating system, it’s just not as smooth as iOS or Android. There’s a clunkiness you just can’t ignore, and it can feel a little exerting navigating your way around.

The main problem for Symbian is that whereas the other two major OS’s were build from the ground up with smartphones in mind, Symbian is very much an evolution of older systems and seems to be slightly stuck in the days of Nokia’s dominance of the phone Market, before smartphones arrived on the scene. So the whole navigation structure is rigged towards what used to work on button based handsets. Another major gripe I’ve had is a lack of Mac compatibility, which took me a while to work around.

If you’re looking to download apps for your phone, the Ovi Store comes preloaded, and works very similar to the other app stores. The selection isn’t as wide, but it offers everything from apps to themes and ringtones for your phone, and it’s actually pretty easy to get around. There’s no Facebook or Twitter apps, but you can use MySocial, which is preloaded on the phone as a nice alternative.

Nokia Ovi store

The very handy, Nokia Ovi Store with over 1.7 million downloads daily

Overall the N8 is a winning handset. It looks good, feels good and is a joy to use. Mostly let down by the operating system which just doesn’t cut the mustard in the age of the iPhone. If Nokia want to keep ahead, they need to utilise their innovation in software, as it seems to be that the other handsets are using their ideas before they do. NFC Payments on phones are a good example, Nokia patented this ages ago, but there seems to be no plans to implement this on any handsets!

Software 5.5/10 – nice, but not wowed

Hardware 10/10 – solid, sleek and simple

Camera 10/10 – Stunning.

Overall 8.5/10 – great phone, pleasure to use.

Windows Phone 7 and the future of Nokia.

 

Opening the Windows for Nokia’s future. 

There’s been a lot of talk about Nokia recently, mostly in relation to their recent deal (take over as most would say) with Windows, whereby Nokia will provide the hardware, and Microsoft will provide the OS to their handsets.

Over the past few years, since the launch of the iPhone and then the rise of Google’s Android handsets, Nokia has been facing an uphill battle. Formerly the worlds largest handset manufacturers, many people simply don’t even consider a Nokia when buying a high end phone, or smartphone.

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