Nokia's Android phones break cover

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Nokia's Android phones break cover

No new Windows Phone devices.

After several leaks, Nokia showed off its new X range of Android devices at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The multi-hued devices are called X, X+ and XL. They sport a Windows phone like interface with resizeable and movable tiles, and while they run Android, no Google services such as Gmail, Maps, Drive or Hangouts come included as default.

Instead, the X phones come with Nokia Maps and Microsoft services such as Skype, Outlook and OneDrive. The devices can run Android apps from the Nokia Store and third-party stores, and there is also a developer platform for them.

Specifications for the devices are mid-range. They are built around Qualcomm's dual-core 8225 Snapdragon chipset running at 1GHz with 512 to 768MB RAM and the lower end models feature a four-inch 800 by 480 pixel IPS screen. 

The XL gets a five-inch screen, also with 800 by 480 pixel resolution.

User data storage is enabled by micro-SD memory cards, with up to 32GB available.

In terms of photography, only the XL gets a front-facing camera to go with the five megapixel rear one, and the two lower-end models have simple, fixed-focus three megapixel shooters.

The new phones are priced between Nokia's low-end Asha feature phones, starting at AUD$135 for the X with the X+ going for AUD$150 and the XL costing AU$165 worldwide. They won't, however, be available in the United States.

No new Lumia handsets running Windows Phone were launched at MWC 2014 by Nokia.

Source: Nokia

Nokia has resisted the lure of Android for as long as possible, in favour of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 operating system.

In 2010 senior Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki said that moving to Android would be like peeing your pants for warmth in winter. A year ago, Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop told media in Sydney that Windows Phone is the company's primary focus and that "going sideways at this point doesn't make sense."

Commenting on the apparent volte-face by the Finnish company, Microsoft, which said it would buy Nokia's handset business in September last year, gave a cautious welcome to the new Android devices.

The company's corporate vice president of communications Frank X Shaw blogged that Microsoft and Nokia still operate as two independent companies as the former's acqusition of the latter hasn't yet been completed.

However, while Microsoft is pleased to see its services being featured on the Nokia Android devices, Shaw said that for Redmond, Windows Phone is number one.

"... our primary smartphone strategy remains Windows Phone, and our core device platform for developers is the Windows platform," Shaw said.

This raises some doubts as to whether or not Microsoft will retain the Android devices in Nokia's line-up after the acqusition is completed this year.

Android devices meanwhile are edging towards a dominant position, boasting almost 70 percent market share in Europe, according to analysts Kantar WorldPanel Comtech's latest sales data

Apple is second at 19 per cent with Windows Phone being the fastest growing operating system in Europe, snagging over ten percent market share thanks to Nokia's Lumia 520 budget handset being the fourth best selling smartphone in Britain.

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