Review: Nokia XL

Review: Nokia XL

The modern history of the smartphone is filled with experiments by manufacturers to see if their new product, which is significantly different from what is readily available, will be embraced by consumers.

Samsung's Galaxy Note series, with its built-in stylus, and the curve screen of the LG G Flex, are great examples of thinking out of the box, with the Note having gone through three incarnations so far.

The Nokia XL is another example of this, although I wonder about its future.

Unlike the Windows Phone 8-based Lumia series, the Nokia XL runs on a severely altered version of Google Android, which has been crafted to look more like a Windows Phone interface.

There is no denying that Android takes up a significant share of the smartphone market and I think this is Nokia's ploy to win over some users, by drawing them in with the maps service, Here, as well as the cloud service, OneDrive, so they might consider switching from this entry-level Nokia phone to a higher-end one.

The Windows disguise here is so that users will not feel the difference in interface when they decide to switch.

However, with Google's Play Store removed and replaced by Nokia's own curated store, the XL feels like a combination of half-baked ideas.

The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is Nokia's attempt at making a "bad" Android phone, only to show how "superior" Windows Phones are.

The processor is so slow that even makers of entry-level Android phones will baulk at using the phone.

Also, the screen looks like a leftover from Nokia's feature-phone era.

Thankfully, its low price and dual-SIM feature mean this can be an acceptable back-up phone.

To conserve power in the small 2,000mAh battery, the default e-mail app does not push e-mail, but refreshes the inbox at intervals of five minutes or more.

Do not dwell on the 5-megapixel camera as you should expect reliability from a camera in an entry-level device.

My own disappointment stems from the fact that Nokia once made great hardware.

However, somewhere along the way, before it was acquired by Microsoft, someone must have made a powerful Nokia Android phone.

Honestly, I expected a better effort.

It is good that Nokia is not calling this an Android phone because the real Android operating system is much better than this.

This article was first published on June 25, 2014.
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