It's Microsoft's first-ever Android phone. Redmond on Tuesday took the cover off the Nokia X2, the latest in the Nokia X line that positions itself as an affordable smartphone to reach the "next billion" people with mobile Internet and cloud services.
Given Microsoft's recent acquisition of Nokia, this Android device is unique in that it also offers Microsoft services. The Nokia X2 will hit the market with Outlook.com, Skype and OneDrive pre-loaded. Users can also download Microsoft's OneNote and Yammer from the Nokia Store. Of course, users can also download Android apps from Google Play.
The Nokia X2 will also offer new third-party titles such as LINE Ranger, Brewster and Findery. Instagram, WeChat and Benji Bananas Adventures are also available in the Nokia Store.
Microsoft's Android Spin
The Nokia X2 offers a 4.3-inch ClearBlack display and 5-megapixel rear camera with auto-focus and flash. Inside, there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor with a dual-core, 1.2-Ghz processor and 1 GB of memory.
Although it's based on the Android mobile operating system, Microsoft is calling the phone's OS the Nokia X Software Platform 2.0. Users can choose between three types of home screens, including a colorful splash with resizable tiles, a shot of recent apps and future calendar items known as Fastlane, and a Lumia-inspired apps list that lets users pin items of their choice to the home screen.
The Nokia X Software Platform 2.0 also offers a pull-down notifications tab so users can see at a glance what they've missed, like software updates available for download. The platform has a home key and visual multitasking, which means you can see which apps are open and close them by clicking on a button at the bottom of the app icon.
Microsoft Out of the Box?
We caught up with Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, to get his take on the new device. He told us Microsoft is working toward two goals with the new smartphone, which was conceived before the company's acquisition of Nokia became final.
"Microsoft is trying to provide a lower-cost device and tap into a bigger ecosphere of applications," Entner said. "The biggest driver is the low cost." The phone will sell for a suggested retail price of 99 euros, or about $135.
Indeed, although there are no immediate plans to offer the Nokia X2 stateside -- the phone will roll out in emerging markets -- Microsoft is looking at profitability and popularity. Timo Toikkanen, head of Mobile Phones in the Microsoft Devices Group, said the Nokia X smartphone has top-selling status in Pakistan, Russia, Kenya and Nigeria and the third-best-selling status in India.
"The Nokia X is going after emerging markets where cost is a huge consideration," Entner said. "I think it's very competitive and is probably going to do well, especially considering there's still a halo effect on [Nokia's] reputation in these markets. In this world you have to think outside the box and not be overly dogmatic. You don't want to suffer from the not-invented-here syndrome."