Microsoft debuts first Android phone, Nokia X2

Nokia X2 is a Microsoft phone running on Android. Seems counter-intuitive, but it's a sign that Microsoft is thinking of its influence in emerging markets where Android still rules. 

This photo shows the Nokia X2: a Microsoft owned phone that runs on Android, aimed at the emerging market. Android recently announced a series of new features for its latest update that make the battery of Android-operated devices last longer.

A Microsoft phone that runs on Android under the Nokia brand? Strangely enough, Microsoft believes that if it can get Android fans to buy a Nokia phone (which Microsoft now owns), it may be able to slowly woo them to a Windows mobile life.

With that in mind, Microsoft just released its first-ever Android device, the Nokia X2. The budget smart phone will run on a modified version of Android made for Nokia, with some Windows elements. Though Microsoft said it hopes to retire the brand, it looks like the company may be aiming at a more conciliatory end game, with low-end Nokia phones running on a Windows-esque version of Android and high-end Windows phones running on pure Windows Phone OS.

“Like the Nokia X, the new Nokia X2 provides access to a world of Android apps and popular Microsoft services,” says Microsoft in a press release announcing the X2. What does that look like? Nokia X2 customers will be able to access the Google Play store, but phones come preloaded with access to the Microsoft cloud, OneDrive, and Microsoft-owned Skype. That way, customers have the option of Android apps they are familiar with, while slowly being introduced to the Microsoft ecosystem.

The other key part of the Nokia X line, and X2 in particular, is the price point. The phone is launching overseas before it lands in North America and will only cost €99 (about $135). This phone is specifically aimed at introducing “the ‘next billion’ people to the mobile Internet and cloud services,” Microsoft adds in its release. The “next billion” is a term often tossed around in the mobile world today as phone makers start to look beyond saturated smart phone markets in North America to emerging markets with consumers eager to get connected via handsets.

The Nokia X2 certainly wouldn’t be a bad option for someone taking their first steps into the smart phone game. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor with a dual core 1.2 GHz CPU, and comes with 1 GB of RAM. It has a 4.3-inch display and 5 megapixel rear camera, plus it comes in a variety of bright colors, such as orange, neon green, and yellow. Users also get 15 gigabytes of cloud storage on OneDrive for free.

“The Nokia X family is going from strength to strength, with the Nokia X smartphone achieving top-selling status in Pakistan, Russia, Kenya and Nigeria, while earning the third-best-selling smartphone spot in India,” says Timo Toikkanen, head of mobile phones at Microsoft’s device division in the release. “The Nokia X2 elevates the Nokia X experience with a stellar new design, ease of use and new Microsoft experiences. We’re proud to continue to bring smartphone innovation to lower and lower price points.” 

The emerging market is still up for grabs, but one thing is certain: it is Android dominated. Android-equipped smart phones outsold the Windows Phone by a 20-to-1 ratio last year, according to technology research firm ABI Research. At the same time, however, modified Android systems grew 137 percent year over year. For now, it looks like Android is the way to go, and Microsoft is taking heed.

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