Nokia XL Hands-On: A Lumia-Flavoured Android Phablet on a Budget

As well as the 4-inch X phones, Nokia's testing the Android waters with an entry-level phablet, the Nokia XL. Is this the first truly-affordable big-screen phone for emerging markets?

Set to be priced at roughly $150 when it launches in Q2, it certainly looks that way. Measuring 141.3 x 77.7 x 10.8mm and weighing 190g, it's equipped with a 5-inch IPS LCD, 800 x 480. At a screen this size, it's not very sharp, but its bright and boldly coloured. 4GB of storage space is built in, with microSD cards up to 32GB supported

Nokia XL Hands-On: A Lumia-Flavoured Android Phablet on a BudgetFrom the outside, it looks like a Lumia phone, thanks to multiple polycarbonate case options. Though large, it's not very heavy, and sits quite comfortably in the hand. On the rear is a 5MP camera, a slight improvement on the Nokia X's 3MP sensor, though it too suffers from washed-out images and a lack of filter and effect options.

Running Nokia's own take on Android courtesy of the Android Open Source Project, this is a Lumia in all but name. A heavily-modified version of Android is onboard here, with Windows Phone-like app tiles and live updating information on the homescreen. Notifications and recent app history sits in a "Fastlane" pane, accessed from a right-to-left swipe on homescreens, while a down swipe accesses connectivity options, and the ability to switch on the fly between dual SIM cards.

The 8225 Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz Dual Core processor is onboard, and belies the budget nature of the phone. Even simple tasks such as re-arranging homescreen tiles felt sluggish, and it's telling that Nokia hadn't preloaded any intensive 3D gaming apps onto the demo handset I was allowed to play with.

The Nokia Store is onboard for app purchases as Google Play is not supported here. It has reportedly hundreds of thousands of apps already, though will not have quite the breadth of content offered by Google's own store. Standard Android APKs can be sideloaded though, as well as third-party app stores being supported, so at least there's plenty of options on offer to get the content you want, if you're ready to do a little bit of extra work in getting it.

The phablet market usually commands a premium, so at the very least Nokia is making a bold statement for its intentions with Android in emerging markets: they may not be highly spec'd, but all bases, including oversized handsets, will be covered.


Nokia XL Hands-On: A Lumia-Flavoured Android Phablet on a Budget

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