Little Green Nokia X
So I have been quiet on the writing front for a while, partly due to having more pressing issues in life and partly due to lack of subject matter. Well life is slightly calmer and the kind people at Connects (Formerly Nokia Connects, but the 'Nokia' got dropped due to the takeover by Microsoft) offered me the chance to trial a Nokia X and I gratefully accepted !
Anyway I have had the X almost a week now, and it has been, at the very least, interesting. The 'X' was announced at MWC 2014 and the furore it caused on the web was mainly due to the fact it ran Android, not exactly what people may have expected as 'pure Google Android' but a skinned version named by Nokia as X. It has Microsoft services as default as opposed to Google services, so Bing v Chrome, Office v Google Docs, Outlook v Gmail etc., you get the idea.
Box & ContentsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Pics of X and size comparison to N9Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before I go into my thoughts too deeply, I should point out the fact that I am not the greatest fan of Android in the world and prefer as my main phone a Lumia 1020 running Windows Phone and also that this little X is a sub £90 handset and as such built to a budget.
On opening the box once I received the phone, my first impressions were good, the little X felt good, it's case being a rubbery feeling plastic ( Bright Green in my case) which popped off the main body of the phone quite easily to reveal the battery compartment and three card slots (the version of the X I was loaned is the dual sim version, which was a pleasant surprise) which were a micro sd slot in the middle and either side of it are slots for micro sim cards. The sim nearest the top of the handset is capable of using 2 & 3G as well as calls and messages and the lower one only works on 2G. You can use the drop down menu to choose which sim is active for calls, although data seems to work on the top sim whenever it is available whether it is set as 'active' or not.
So once I had put all the innards into the X , 2 sims (micro), an sd card (max 32gig compatibility) and the battery (1500 mAh) and charged her up I began setting up the little phone, I say little , but this is a comparative term, it has a 4” LCD screen and four years ago I'd have considered it huge, but after using a Nokia Lumia 1020 at 4.5” and a 1520 at 6” it seems tiny. Anyway, the initial set up was quite enjoyable, whether it was nostalgia from my N9 (lots of swipey stuff) or the resizeable tiles (my preference for Windows Phone) I don't know, but I enjoyed setting up the X I really like the UX which is reminiscent of the swipe experience on the N9. The drop down menu bar for settings, the rotating circles for setting the time and sliding from home screen to 'Fastlane' which is a list of notifications and recently used apps are all design keys from Harmattan. The notifications on the lock screen and tap to unlock are also features to love on this little handset.
Now to the not so good, some of which may be my personal preference/usage, some simply, not good. I said the set-up was a pleasure, well it was until I tried to set up my email !! The native app simply would not play at all and after several attempts to set up any form of Outlook, Exchange , POP or IMAP I ended up setting my exchange account up manually, something I don't think I've had to do since my Nokia N97 !! Once set up, it worked perfectly and mail ,contacts and calendar sync work a treat, but come on Nokia, this ain't good, I found an Outlook app in the store later, but really think a modern phone should set up exchange mail automatically without any effort or knowledge ? Once set up and once I had my social media working I've used the X as my main phone (not a lot of choice really, it's holding all the cards ) since I got it, generally the UI is fairly smooth and genuinely fun to use, however the lack of grunt in the little phone makes actually opening applications or web pages pretty slow, most things take a couple of seconds to open, but if rendering a lot of photos or data on sites or in apps this can be 5 seconds plus, which is, to say the least, is quite irritating ! My final and main bug bear has been appalling battery life, which I think may be my usage. I always keep my phone in my top shirt pocket at work along with a pen, I have done this as long as phones have been small enough to fit in a shirt pocket (my first mobile was a brick and would struggle to fit in a ruck sack never mind a shirt pocket) and up until the X I have never had a handset constantly switch itself on in my pocket, open apps and try send random posts. I believe the battery issue is caused by the power/screen lock button having very little resistance and working with a slight touch to work, it had been pressing against may pen and so the phone has been operating when I thought it was in standby, this means most days it has been flat by mid afternoon. On my one day off and in my jeans pocket on its own the X lasted a full day easy, but for me at least , something needs to be done with the power button.
A few photo samples from the X CameraClick thumbnail to view full-size
Despite it's short falls, the Nokia X does work extremely well as a 'Phone' , calls and messages have been crisp clear and solid, I have been able to keep in touch with Twitter and Facebook and the single speaker on the back of the X sounds pretty good for music and video (some video failed to play , but VLC player from the store sorted this) The Nokia added value items are worthwhile, you still get offline mapping and navigation from HERE which works great, you are only licensed to navigate in one region, which you need to chose in set up, but I struggle to be in more than one country at once , so this was no major issue. Also Mix Radio worked fine on the X both through the speaker and headphones. The camera on the X is a 3 mega pixel affair , and the kindest thing I can say is it would be fine for facebook.
To conclude, I think the X is a mixed bag, and probably value for money, but I have been spoilt with high end phones and from my experience the low end budget Lumia 520 gives a smoother and more fulfilling experience at similar or less money. That said the twin sim idea really appeals (wish they were available in the UK, my unit was Italian) specially on holiday with a local sim along with my own. Also a few of the UI features are great and I'd love to see them on a more powerful handset. I guess it is always nice to have choice, but on a budget I think I would chose a low end budget Lumia before the X.
Full specification for the Nokia X can be found HERE and I hope some of the photographs are of interest .
Thanks for taking the time to take a look.