Nokia X Android smartphones

One of the worst kept secrets of Mobile World Congress was that Nokia launched a trio of Android smartphones. And it really shouldn't have bothered.

The Nokia X phones are interesting in a sense because they are something completely different and new to the world of smartphones. They make a nice change from the new but almost identical versions of the iPhone and Galaxy. New and different doesn't mean good, though and the move comes, ironically enough, in the lead up to Microsoft's takeover of the Finnish firm.

See also: Nokia X and X+ hands-on review: Nokia does budget Android smartphones.

First things first, the Nokia X devices don't come with a recognisably Android interface. Instead, much like Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets, Nokia has customised it heavily and has done so to the point that it looks like Windows Phone. It's unsurprising as the firm doesn't want to anger Microsoft and even goes as far as to say the design is 'inspired by Lumia'.

These are staggeringly cheap phones (we're talking less than £100) so they're aimed at first-time buyers and emerging markets. The price makes them attractive but Nokia X phones simply make no sense in the UK and here's why.

The way I see it, you're in one of two main categories when buying a cheap smartphone. You either like Windows Phone or you like Android (the iPhone 5c is hardly cheap). So no one should want to opt for a strange mash up of the two.

Nokia X Android interface

Windows Phone has an uphill battle to catch iOS and Android. One of its biggest problems is a lack of apps so Nokia's Android-powered phones give users access to a wealth of Android apps and Microsoft services which are pushed at users. This naturally then leads them on to Windows Phone as the more premium experience.

However, there's no access to the Google Play store so users will have to rely on third-party alternatives such as Yandex. This immediately cuts out a large percentage of apps since Yandex, for example, has just over 100,000 on offer. We're almost back at square one. Check out: Nokia XL hands-on review: Nokia’s first 5-inch Android smartphone is intriguing, weird and bit of a bargain.

I'll admit that this is clever but it screams of smoke and mirrors to me – a con to put it much more frankly. For example, a user buys the Nokia X handset and gets used to all the apps they can use and the tiles Windows Phone-esque interface. Then they upgrade to a Lumia and suddenly they've lost many of those apps they use every day and Android features which aren't part of Windows Phone such as widgets and proper notifications (although an incoming update for Microsoft's mobile OS could rectify this).

Consumers can get a better experience by spending a little more money, whether they are on the Windows or Android side of the fence. They need only pick between two smartphones which currently lead the budget market in our eyes.

Nokia's own Lumia 520 is flying off the shelves and is a great little smartphone with decent specs for the price – only a few quid over the £100 mark. Then there's the Motorola Moto G which has simply shaken up the cheap end of the market like a tornado. It's not much more than the 520 and comes with the kind of hardware and performance you'd expect from a device two or even three times the price.

Why would anyone want a slightly cheaper phone which confusingly blends Windows Phone and Android and pours it into a handset with poor specifications? Nokia should make a proper Android device or stick to Windows Phone and it probably be forced into the latter will with the imminent Microsoft buyout.

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