Microsoft has already killed the Nokia X experiment. The company won't manufacture new Android handsets. However, the existing products will continue to get the service and software support. There's still no clarity regarding the recently announced Nokia X2, so the XL could very well be the last of the Nokia Androids.
Design And Build The Nokia XL, looks much like its younger sibling the X. As opposed to the Lumia line-up, this handset is less curvy. Much like the Asha handsets, the XL has sharp angles and straight lines. The phone comes with swappable back shells that are available in multiple colours such as Green, Orange, Cyan, Yellow, Black, and White.
The quality of polycarbonate used in construction is top-notch. It's way better than the plastic you get on Samsung and LG's expensive phones. The XL is sturdy like a rock. However, this has a negative impact on its weight, which is whopping 190 grams. In comparison, the LG G3 with a 5.5-inch screen tips the scales at 149 grams. Plus, the XL is also relatively larger than most 5-inchers, which makes it very difficult to operate with one hand.
The phone features a microSD and two micro SIM card slots. All of them are placed under the battery cover. The phone has a single hardware button for UI navigation. We will talk more about this later. The volume rocker and Lock button are on the right-hand side, which is a standard key placement for recent Nokia phones.
Display The Nokia X sports a 5" IPS screen with 480x800 pixels. In terms of pixel density, you get around 187 ppi. Strange, but the X's display comes across much sharper than that of the XL. This isn't surprising considering that the cheaper Nokia X has pixel density of 233 ppi. For a few hundred more, the Asus ZenFone 5 delivers an excellent HD screen. Other aspects of the display such as the brightness and viewing angles are quite good.
Key Specifications Nokia XL runs on the Nokia X Software Platform, which is based on Android Jelly Bean 4.1. It is powered by a 1 GHz S4 dual-core Snapdragon S4 Play processor with 768 MB of RAM. The handset comes with a 5 megapixel rear camera, and a 2 megapixel front-facing snapper for selfies. The internal storage is 4 GB, which is expandable up to 32 GB. Other features include dual-SIM support, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, and 2000 mAh battery.
Software The phone runs Nokia X software platform 1.0, which is based on AOSP (Android Open Source Project). Nokia has turned Android 4.1 Jelly into something that looks like a poor man's Windows Phone platform. The software lacks the polish and elegance of the Windows Phone platform. Things get more messy when you add standard Android widgets to homescreen. The Android widgets and tiles don't go together at all. Makes us wonder why Nokia added option in the first place.
If all this wasn't bad enough, operating phone with a single capacitive (Back) button makes sure that you're completely frustrated. The 'Back' button, apart from going back, also works as a Home key with a long press. Considering the number of times any smartphone user would want to visit the homescreen, it deserve a dedicated button.
Swiping sideways gives you access to notifications panel, which Nokia like to call Fastlane. Here you can see the list of recent apps or even the ones that are running in the background. You can close them from here. Again, I feel that Nokia should have provided a proper way to manage multitasking.
Android platform is a memory hog. It requires at least 1 GB RAM to run properly. Still, Nokia has decided to go with 768 RAM for the Nokia XL. Little wonder then, the user experience is sluggish.
What Android fans are going to hate most about this device is the lack Google services such as Maps, Drive, Hangouts, Play Store. While Microsoft has an alternative for each Google service, you're going to miss the Play Store because Nokia Store still lacks WhatsApp. However, there's a workaround to get most of the Android apps on the Nokia X.
Media The XL, much like other Nokia handsets come with MixRadio service. This Pandora like service lets you stream music without ads. Plus, you can download free music for first three months. The device's sound outpur is good. There are plenty of sound settings to play around with.
Moving on to video playback, the XL is nothing but a disappointment. It's a year 2014, and this handset can't handle HD (720) videos. Even if you download and install MXPlayer, the max this phone can handle is 480p videos. So if you were going to buy this phone for video consumption, drop your plans.
Camera The Nokia XL packs in a 5 megapixel autofocus camera. it produces good results in well-lit environments. However, low-light photos turn out to be full of visual noise. Unlike Nokia's Lumia series of phones, the XL lacks elaborate manual controls. However, despite being low on features, the camera UI is sluggish.
Coming to the subject of video recording, 480p is the max this phone can pull off. The level of detail is quite low. In this price range, Nokia's own Lumia 630 does an excellent job.
Telephony And Messaging The XL Dual SIM variant comes with SIM settings menu. Here you can assign a preferred SIM for data or calling. The phone's network reception was strong during the week's usage. GPS and Wi-Fi also worked without any issue. Speaking of which, the XL ,comes with HERE maps with offline voice guided navigation. Moving onto messaging, Nokia's keyboard is quite sluggish.
Battery On a full charge, the XL's 2000 mAh battery lasts for a day and half. In our video loop test, the phone lasts for 6 and a half hour. That's quite standard for dual-SIM Android phones.
Verdict The Nokia XL is a sturdy handset that comes in candy colours. The Nokia services such as MixRadio and HERE maps are its strong points. However, it's annoyingly sluggish to be called a 'smartphone'. The single key navigation is counterintuitive. What's worse is that many popular apps such as WhatApp are still missing in Nokia Store. If you're looking for a good Android phone in this price range, go for the ASUS ZenFone 5. If you happen to be a Nokia fan, better go for the Lumia 630 or if you want a front-facing camera, the Lumia 625 is also a good option.
Features: 3/5 Design And Build Quality: 3.5/5 Performance: 1.5/5 Value For Money: 2/5 Mojo: 2/5