In a move that would have been inconceivable a couple of years back, Microsoft has unveiled its first Android handset, the Nokia X2.
The X2 is the follow-up to Nokia's X handset which was revealed in February, before the Finnish handset company was acquired by Microsoft. Even when the Nokia X was being shown off there was much speculation that Microsoft would shut down this Android experiment in order to focus solely on its own Windows Phone operating system — but that is evidently not the case.
The new handset runs what Microsoft calls the "Nokia X Software Platform 2.0", which is essentially the Android Open Source Project elements of Android but not the hooks into Google cloud services usually built on top. This way Microsoft can benefit from the popularity of Android while building in links to its own services, which is the long-term play: Windows Phone for the high end smartphones, then Nokia X and Asha at the low end. It's a pragmatic approach which acknowledges the strength of Android at the budget end and might just convert some users in emerging markets into Microsoft customers without them ever buying a PC.
Microsoft describes the Nokia X line as "a gateway to Microsoft services", a budget range aimed at the "next billion" smartphone users in emerging markets. It said the handsets are "driving strong uptake" of its services such as Skype and OneDrive. The device comes with Outlook.com, Skype and OneDrive pre-loaded, while others such as OneNote and Yammer can be downloaded from the Nokia Store. But like the Nokia X the new handset also gives users access to Android apps.
The dual-SIM handset, which goes on sale for €99 next month, features a 4.3-inch ClearBlack display and 5MP rear camera with autofocus and flash, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor featuring a dual core 1.2Ghz CPU and 1 GB of RAM.
The Nokia X2 will be available at launch in glossy orange, black and green, glossy yellow, white, and matte dark grey.
Microsoft highlighted the Nokia X's popularity in some emerging markets, claiming it is number one at its price in Russia, Kenya, and Nigeria, as well as being the overall top seller in Pakistan.