Just last week, Nokia launched the Nokia X in Mobile World Congress (MWC 2014) in Barcelona. The global announcement was still fresh in my mind. So fresh, I only just blogged about it earlier this week in my Top 5 Highlighted smart device in MWC 2014 blogpost.
Nokia announced that the Nokia X will be available almost immediately in a global release. I didn’t think Malaysia would be one of the first few countries on that list! Until I received the invite from Nokia Malaysia for the Nokia X Malaysian launch event which happened yesterday, on Wednesday 5 March 2014.
A little background on Nokia X family
Nokia X is actually a family of 3 devices running a forked version of Android Operating System, namely the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
What does “forked” Android mean?
Well, the underlying source code of the OS is essentially Android, but Nokia went ahead and built an entire platform on top of it. Nokia used the code, but built an entire navigation system integrating with Microsoft services (instead of Google for most Android smartphones) and ran their own User Interface and theme with their own Nokia app store.
Why would a traditional Windows Phone manufacturer, who’s about to close the deal on being acquired by Microsoft, launch a somewhat-Android smartphone?
Nokia executives answered that in the launch today. Nokia recognised that they have been the market leader in “First” phones (your legacy, hardware keypad, Series 40 based Nokia phones) and “Feature” phone (their Asha series phones, with semi-smart features like apps, Maps, etc) categories. They realised that the Chinese manufacturers (Huawei, ZTE, Oppo) are dominating the “Affordable Smartphone” (this is the under USD$ 100 phones, in Nokia’s definition) categories and they’re losing out. While their higher end Lumia series is still a long way from being “affordable” today, they decided to develop the Nokia X series, using the cheapest and customisable Android OS.
After a long time in development, and a number of leaks in major tech sites leading up to MWC 2014 last week, Nokia finally unveiled their Android based, Nokia X family of phones – Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL.
In the launch today, Nokia Malaysia only introduced us to the first of the Nokia X family of phones – the hero device, the Nokia X. Here’s a quick specification overview of the Nokia X :-
- 4″ WVGA display, capacitive 2 point touch screen (800 x 480) (233 ppi)
- 1 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor
- 4 GB internal storage (expandable up to 32 GB microSD) + 512 MB RAM
- Powered by Nokia X software platform (based on Android Open Source Project OS)
- 3 megapixel fixed focus rear camera (no flash), no front facing camera
- 10.44 mm thin, weighing only 128.7 grams
- 1,500 mAh removable battery (up to 10.5 3G talktime)
- Connectivity : Dual microSIM 3G HSPA+ / 2G GPRS, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
- Available in 4 colours in Malaysia : Black, White, Red and (new hero colour) Green
Nokia X will be available on sale in Malaysia, starting next week in Klang Valley and a week later nationwide, for a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 399 in all 4 colours.
If you can’t wait, you can already pre-order the Nokia X at Nokia Stores. There’s no discounted phones with telco plans (cos Nokia kept the phone quiet until release last week) but you can also pre-order online with StoreKini, where every purchase before 31 March 2014 will get a FREE gift worth RM 50.
For more information, check out the Nokia X Malaysian product page at http://www.nokia.com/my-en/phones/phone/nokia-x/
See Also : Top 5 Smart Devices Highlights from MWC 2014
Nokia X Malaysian Launch Event
I was early to the event, which surprised even me, coming from a different part of town to Connexion @ Nexus in Bangsar South City. It was a location I wasn’t familiar with, and I even got lost and parked in a different building, only to get back in my car to drive to another building.
Still, as I said, I made it early. So, for those of you wondering (here’s looking at you, Mike), the picture above was of an empty hall because I was one of the first to walk in the room. Not that the event had a bad turnout. Okay…
The evening launch that I attended was specifically for Bloggers. There was an earlier event in the day for the Media.
Nokia executive, Gary Chan, Head of Marketing, Pan Asia, introduced us to the background and history of the Nokia X family of phones. They even showed us a demo of the phone, walking us through the basics of the navigation and feature of the Nokia X :-
- Tile based User Interface – just like with Nokia Lumia series, you’ll see grid like list of apps installed on the phone, which also doubles as a homescreen widget
- Customisable home screen – like with Windows Phone tile based home screen, you can also resize apps on the Nokia X, group apps in folders, and change colour scheme to match the backplate casing
- Nokia Store – download apps curated by Nokia for the Nokia X phone. You can also download Android apps from other 3rd party App Stores or sideload (using a cable or microSD) the Android app by installing the .apk file
- Nokia Fastlane – As seen on Nokia Asha phones, this is your notification centre, as well as a Multi-task view of your recent apps and activities. Like with new Android OS, you can action from this view (eg, play/pause music, reply to messages, etc)
- Pre-installed apps – Skype (voice/video calling over data/internet), HERE Maps (with turn-by-turn navigation and offline maps), Nokia MixRadio (over 13 million FREE music) and more…
More info on Nokia X Malaysian product page at http://www.nokia.com/my-en/phones/phone/nokia-x
In the goodie bags I received, there was also a stuffed Line caharacter doll.
That’s because Nokia Malaysia is teaming up with LINE (the messaging app) with the introduction of the Nokia X in Malaysia.
Nokia Malaysia’s official LINE account went live recently, and they’re giving away 50 units of Nokia X with a contest on their NokiaMY LINE account. So, go follow NokiaMY on LINE app now!
There will also be a series of roadshows in collaboration between Nokia Malaysia and LINE across 10 college campuses in Malaysia to experience the Nokia X, LINE apps, mingle with the LINE characters and enjoy some fun activities (and likely win some prizes).
Hands On with Nokia X
I didn’t get to win myself a Nokia X. I didn’t get to come home with a review unit of the Nokia X as well. But I did manage some hands-on time with a few prototype units at the launch…
The Nokia X is really a cute device. It reminds me very much of the Nokia Asha series feature phones. The design is minimalist, has a matte polycarbonate (plastic) removable backplate and minimal ports and buttons. It looks sleek and 4″ screen is small enough to fit in even the daintiest of hands for single handed use, and still comfortable to type on screen with.
Pressing one finger on the lens in the middle back of the phone with another finger at the top to pry open the removable backplate. Sounds scary, but it allows you to remove and swap different colour casing. You see the 1,500 mAH battery with the slots for 2 microSIM slots (dual SIM… yeah!!!) and micro SD slot.
One of the interesting thing I noticed, was that one of the prototype unit we get to play with, was running on Android!!! Not the skinned Nokia X platform based Android, but the original source Android (AOSP) with the usual Android navigation and App Drawer and homescreen widgets. So, I quickly snapped a picture.
First impression – I like it. At a RM 399 price tag, it’s hard not to love this.
Especially for those who’s upgrading from a feature phone but is worried about the daunting interface of a smartphone, this is what you can consider getting. Furthermore, once you get used to the emails, Outlook.com emails, OneDrive cloud storage, Skype voice/video calls over the internet, etc… you’re just a small step away from going full blown, high-end smartphone. Especially easy upgrade and data migration to Nokia’s Lumia series Windows Phone smartphones.
I don’t know if I will be getting my hands on a review unit of the Nokia X, or perhaps wait a little until the Nokia X+ or Nokia XL is launched in Malaysia, but I am eager to fully test this phone and report back to those of you who are curious about the usability of the Nokia X.
*ahem* Nokia Malaysia, hook me up? *ahem*