Hands-on: Nokia X, X+ and XL review

Nokia has revealed the X series as its step towards a more Android-friendly future. Using the Nokia X Software Platform, the X, X+ and XL phones give users access to both Microsoft and Android apps. At super-affordable prices and with a quality Nokia build, this new series could change the emerging markets for a Microsoft-reliant future.

Build quality

As is becoming the way with Nokia devices, the build quality on the X Series is excellent. The durable monobody design, which comes in six colours, has excellent grip with attractively harsh edges and minimal bezel. For the price, starting at 99 euros, users can really get a lot more for their money than you would expect.

All three handsets are perfectly weighted - not so light as to feel flimsy but not so heavy that they feel cheap.

Operating system

This is the big part of the range. The key thing here is that users not only get free Microsoft apps like MixRadio, Here Maps, Skype and Outlook but also Android applications. And BBM, too.

These are all laid out in simple tiles which are coloured in lines for easy quick-view access. It looks like a clean blend of Android and Windows Phone, but clearly more Microsoft than Google. Developers will easily be able to port apps across.

Users are given one month free Skype Unlimited World for use in selected regions. The plan is clearly to get them hooked on Micosoft products via the already well-known Android market.

And Fast Lane, as Microsoft calls it, allows you to switch multitasking between apps from a simple selection list. It's basic but it does the job.

Power per pound

The Nokia X is the entry model with 512MB of RAM, while the X+ and XL both have 769MB of RAM. All three run a 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. In simple use we didn't notice much difference in the three, but when opening apps there was a waiting time that made us realise how much we take quad-core devices for granted.

Storage is a standard 4GB on each device, with expansion possible up to 32GB. The microSD card slot, alongside dual-SIM capability, is found by popping the seamless back cover off the device. The large battery can also be found here and can deliver up to 22 days on 3G for the X and X+, 26 days on the XL.

Screen looks

Both the Nokia X and X+ feature 4-inch IPS displays at 800 x 480 resolution.

The XL, which has a 5-inch screen, also features the same 800 x 480 resolution. The difference in quality isn't really noticeable as all are a little on the low side when it comes to pixels. This probably helps battery life and in real use wasn't detrimental to the point of being a problem. Even in the picture gallery everything was clear and bright.

Cameras

The best camera of the range is found on the Nokia XL. It has a 5-megapixel snapper that comes with a flash. The phone also features a 2-megapixel front-facing camera - which is surprisingly high end. Presumably this is to help promote Skype use and sell that Microsoft product more.

The Nokia X and XL both feature 3-megapixel rear cameras. They take a little while to load, more so in the X, but do the job fine - as long as you're not in the dark, as there's no flash.

First impressions

For budget handsets these are impressive. While they might be a bit slow at times and the resolutions not the best for the price, they're great. And to have access to both Microsoft and Android apps is a really good idea. This could open the path to more unified app stores in future, which is a win-win situation for buyers.

The Nokia X is on sale now for 99 euros, while the X+ and XL go on sale at the end of Q2 for 99 euros and 109 euros respectively. These are launching only in developing markets now but a UK launch could happen later in the year.