In case you didn’t already know, the Nokia X is finally on sale in Nigerian stores for between 19 and 21k. It will be officially unveiled in Lagos tomorrow at an exclusive event.
The Nokia X is powered by a forked version of Android, spotting a Metro-cum-Asha UI skin. Contrary to what it is continually referred to as – by virtually everyone but Nokia – the Nokia X is not an Android phone. I think this erroneous perspective has been majorly responsible for all the flak techies have directed at the Nokia X, especially for the specs and absence of Google/Google Play Services.
To understand why the Nokia X should not be treated as an Android phone, you have to look at it holistically, not just from the Operating System side of things.
Software and Ecosystem
My understanding of software development is that, when you fork a software package, you rip out its (open) source code to create another distinct software package. In the Nokia X’s case, Android JellyBean was ripped and repackaged as “Nokia X Software Platform”, complete with its custom firmware. It is there, written boldly on the specs sheet.
Aside the Nokia X’s Metro and Asha inspired UI – very inconsistent with the standard icon and app drawer based Android UI – there’s the obvious absence of Google/Google Play services, which have been replaced with “Microkia” alternatives. This means the Nokia X is knee-deep in the Windows ecosystem, rather than the Android ecosystem. Essentially, the Nokia X is not an Android phone.
Non-Android platforms running Android apps
So what if the Nokia X can run Android apps? That doesn’t necessarily make it an Android device. Check these guys:
- All BB10 devices – powered by the Blackberry 10 OS platform
- The Jolla phone – powered by the Sailfish OS platform.
- The legendary HTC HD2, originally powered by Windows Mobile 6.5 OS.
They can all install and run most Android apps. But that doesn’t make them Android phones does it?
Even Nokia has made it clear in their branding – the Nokia X is “your Fastlane to Android apps”, not an Android phone.
I hope to expound on this in a later post. The Nokia X Software Platform handles multitasking with a similar approach to the now archaic Symbian platform. Minimized apps stay running in a frozen state in the background until you actually force-stop their processes. This is very inconsistent with standard Android pseudo-multitasking, where the OS kills minimized app processes in the background, almost instantly, reloading them on re-access. This why you often find your phone reloads web pages every time you switch apps, even on devices with 1GB of RAM.
On the surface, Nokia going the Symbian philosophy route might be a poor choice, considering the meager 512MB RAM that powers the Nokia X. But I wouldn’t rush into conclusions till I actually handle the device and experience the multitasking firsthand.