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Nokia X: everything we know so far

Nokia's Android ambitions have come to fruition and if you want to see what we think so far you can head straight on over to our hands on reviews of the Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL.

If you fancy getting to know the trio of handsets at once, stick around and we'll reveal the specs, the design, the release dates and the price of each of these unusual handsets.

It started out as a pie-in-the-sky rumour: Nokia is making an Android device. Surely not, given the Finnish firm has only recently been acquired by software giant (and the Windows Phone peddling) Microsoft. So why would Nokia jump into bed with the enemy?

While many eyebrows were raised, and eyes rolled, when news of the Nokia X first took to the web (under the moniker Normandy), the sheer deluge of leaks added more and more credibility to the handset's existence.

And then it was made official. At MWC 2014, Stephen Elop took to the stage to announce the arrival of the Nokia X, X+ and Nokia XL.

The Nokia X and Nokia X+ are bedfellows – all that separates them are the amount of RAM they have.

The Nokia X has just 512MB, while the Nokia X+ has a slightly more generous 768MB and comes with a 4GB microSD card in the box. As for the Nokia XL, this is a low-cost phablet with a 5-inch screen.

Cut to the chase

What is it?

Nokia's first smartphone to run Google's Android OS

When is it out?

Now, in selected markets (Nokia X+ and XL arrive soon)

What will it cost?

It's cheap: €89, €99 (X+) and €109 (XL)

Nokia X release date and price

Announced on February 24, the Nokia X was revealed by Stephen Elop, who said that the new device was indeed Android but with a difference. "The Nokia X is built on Android open source software. We have differentiated and added our own experience," he said.

Nokia X: everything we know so far

We did learn that the Nokia X would be launched first, and cost just €89 (around £75, $120, AU$135). It's now on sale in India for Rs8599, which equates to around £85, and is available in Kenya for roughly the same price too.

The Nokia X+ and Nokia XL will be arriving in selected markets during the second quarter of the year for €99 (around £80, $135, AU$150) and €109 (around £90, $150, AU$170) respectively.

While these devices will come to more developed markets in the future, we're still waiting for Nokia to outline its exact launch plans for places like the UK and US.

We got hands on with the Nokia X+ at MWC 2014:

Nokia X operating system

The single biggest feature on the Nokia X (X+ and XL) is its operating system. Nokia is heavily invested in the Windows Phone platform for its Lumia range, while its Asha devices run its own, in-house Asha OS.

The Nokia X range runs Android. But not the Android you know (and perhaps love). This is a heavily modified version that is built on Android open source software, although it does use Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 as the base.

This isn't an Android that comes with the Google Play store. This is an Android that has been moulded and contorted into an operating system that runs and looks more like Windows Phone.

There are live tiles just like Windows Phone, but you will be able modify the handset a little more freely than on Windows Phone.

Essentially it marries the design language of Windows Phone to the more open nature of Android with a touch of Asha thrown in for good measure.

For example its uses a version of the Asha "Fast Lane" feature, which shows all your recent activity, from new messages to the last apps you used and it can be customised to hide specific information so it only shows you what you want to see.

Nokia has put its own Android store on to the device (giving you a more limited selection than Google Play) and there will be a number of apps pre-installed on to the device.

Unsurprisingly these are mostly Microsoft (OneDrive, Skype etc) and Nokia (HERE Maps, HERE Drive and Mix Radio) offerings - with some apps only available on the Finnish firm's version of Android.

This is definitely a forked version of Android with Elop noting that the Nokia X takes people to Microsoft's cloud and not Google's.

The lack of Google Play could be a major stumbling block for the Nokia X and its brethren as Nokia's own store is likely to be comparatively lacking for a long time to come.

But you can also use third party app stores and Elop does say that Android devs can bring their apps to Nokia X - it only takes a few extra hours dev work - and people can sideload applications using a microSD card.

The fact that porting apps is so easy also means that the Nokia X range could quickly end up with a greater selection of them than any Windows Phone handset, even if it's not likely to deliver the full library of Android apps.

Enterprising users needn't be limited at all as the Nokia X has already been hacked to run Google Play and Google apps.

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