Opinion

Why you should not buy the Nokia X

At first glance the Nokia X seems like an aberration. How can Nokia, a company who in the past spoke so scathingly about Android and who is now practically owned by Microsoft (and in some ways, has been for quite some time now) decided to make an Android phone when they have Windows Phones on the market? But while it seems baffling and, in some ways, a move that will destroy the low-end Windows Phone business that has just started gaining momentum, it’s anything but that. And there are good reasons why you should avoid buying one.

First of all, Nokia is using the carrot of Android apps to lure buyers. It wasn’t something that it could boast of before since they switched to Windows Phone but now suddenly apps is the buzzword. But while the prospect of running Android apps on a Nokia phones sounds exciting, it’s not quite as easy.

For starters, Nokia has cut all ties with Google services, which means first and foremost, there is no Play Store. All the apps that Nokia talks about in its marketing material either come built-in, can be found on the new Nokia Store, through third-party app stores (such as Amazon Appstore) or by side-loading after installing the APK. There are several problems with this. The Nokia Store, for example, is still brand new and has only a handful of apps and games right now. As for the third party app stores and side-loading, there’s another problem with that.

As mentioned before, Nokia has cut all ties with Google in the Nokia X, the same way Amazon did for the Kindle Fire. There are no Google apps to be found on the phone and nothing that uses Google API or talks back to Google is being used. Now a lot of Android apps today plug into these APIs to access certain functions. When you deny them access to those APIs you are left with either a crippled app or a completely unusable one. This means that even if you can install a third party app store or side-load apps, it doesn’t guarantee that the app will actually work on the phone. And considering just how many apps rely on Google’s APIs, that’s a lot of apps.

The problem here is that the Nokia X is essentially a series of low-end smartphones. These phones will likely be purchased by people who are not into technology. They will see the words ‘Nokia’, ‘Android’ and ‘Apps’ and will lap it up, only to realize after using them that there is no Play Store on them. Half of these people will never recover from that stumbling block. The rest will try to find a work around that may not work so well.

Another problem with cutting all ties with Google services is essentially stripping Android of all that makes it Android. Nokia has replaced all of Google’s excellent services such as Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Now, Google Drive, Hangouts, etc. and replaced it with Microsoft’s equivalent services. A lot of people buy Android phones to use Google services. If they wanted to use Microsoft’s services, they’d have bought a Windows Phone. But they don’t.

Lastly, the phone is lame. Sure, it’s priced low but it’s also the quintessential low-end Android phone with just some lipstick on top. It’s not particularly smooth and it’s not exactly fast. Nokia is also using an older version of Android that was not optimized for low-end hardware. It almost feels like it was made to show how bad Android is on low-end devices and direct people towards Windows Phone that works much better in comparison. Even the UI is confounding; it’s neither as easy to use as Windows Phone nor as functional or familiar as stock Android.

So to summarize, the Nokia X is not just a phone. It’s a device that is designed to push Microsoft’s agenda and their services, which couldn’t get anywhere on their own but are now trying to ride on Android’s popularity, down people’s throats. It’s a device made to piss Google off, by using Android and stripping every bit of Google out of it. And lastly, it’s a device that is seemingly designed to make Windows Phone look good.

Don’t fall for this nonsense. Just work harder and get a Moto G. Or just get a Lumia 520 if you like Microsoft and Nokia so much. If you still want a Nokia X, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. You’re not buying an Android phone. You are buying a horribly deformed child of Android and Windows Phone that will never be as good as either of them. It’s like Nokia combined the worst of both of those platforms into one device. And that’s why you should stay away from it.