Defying logic, common sense and, perhaps least important, tech traditions, Nokia took the wraps off an X follow-up aptly named X2 just five months after the first-gen was introduced. Even nuttier, the upgraded Android-based handheld is up for grabs in “in select countries globally”, which means it started selling less than 100 days on the heels of its predecessor.
Clearly, the whole timeline is all messed up. But the X2 ain’t the problem. The X was, and whoever green-lit the humble 4 incher has some explaining to do. If he’s not out looking for a new job as we speak.
Anyhoo, congrats Nokia, Microsoft, Nokiasoft, Microkia or whatever you’re called these days for owning up to your monumental blunders and going the extra mile to fix them. I pity the fools that bought the debut X and they have every right to be pissed, but the rest of us should warmly welcome yet another solid low-cost title challenger.
Here’s everything that makes the X2 a much, much better slab than the X and the handful of features and specifications the two still have in common:
Nokia X2 vs Nokia X – what’s different
- Larger display
Sometimes, when comparing, say, 5 and 5.5-inch smartphones, you may hear me claim size can be both a gift and a burden. But when descending in the claustrophobic abyss of smaller than 4.5-inch handhelds, there’s no question about it: the bigger, the better.
Even in cases, such as the one we’re dealing with here, when size comes at the downside of resolution. So yeah, X2’s screen pixel density is lower, at 217 ppi (vs 233), but the 0.3 inches of extra real estate make all the difference in the world.
- Beefier processor and twice the RAM
Now you’re talking, Nokia. I mean, no, the X2 is no powerhouse, yet it’s light years ahead of the X raw speed-wise, thanks to a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 200 chip and 1 GB RAM. Dual-core 1 GHz Snapdragon S4 Play and 512 MB of random-access memory? Talk about partying like it’s 2010. Good thing that’s now behind us.
- Improved rear camera, LED Flash and front snapper
Look, 5 megapixels might not sound like a whole lot in the age of the OIS phones and PureView monsters, but paired with Flash it’s positively dreamy for €99. Especially when compared to X’s sub-par 3.15 MP, non-Flash shooter. Also dreamy, the VGA front cam. Yes, it’s VGA, but it’s there.
- Bigger battery
They say with great power, comes great responsibility. Like the responsibility of keeping the lights on for hours and hours despite beefing up performance. And by the looks of it, the X2 doesn’t disappoint in autonomy either, packing a 1,800 mAh battery (vs 1,500 for the first-gen X), perfectly capable of handling about 10-12 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge.
- Software optimizations and tweaks
Reportedly based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean this time around instead of 4.1, X2’s X software platform 2.0 (you need a better name, Nokia) has as much in common with stock Android as this writer has with Brad Pitt.
Basically a Windows Phone clone with support for (some) Android apps, the 2.0 X platform alters quite a few of version 1.0’s functions, boosting multitasking and adding layers and layers of functionality on an OS that still feels experimental.
A detailed overview of everything that’s transformed is available at this link here, and in case you haven’t heard, let me be the bearer of bad news: the first-gen X, X+ and XL will never be updated to 2.0 on account of hardware limitations. Sorry.
It’s true, for the most part, the X and X2 look the same on the outside. But grab that magnifying glass and you’ll notice a host of changes. The X2 sports the bigger screen and is hence taller (121.7 mm vs 115.5) and wider (68.3 mm vs 63). But for some reason, it’s also chunkier (11.1 mm vs 10.4). Not good.
Also not good, the ginormous weight gap, not entirely warranted by the larger screen and bigger battery. For crying out loud, the X2 is a brick, at 150 grams, 22 grams or so north of the X. On the bright side, Nokia vows for the new guy’s robustness and durability. And the playful paint jobs (glossy green, orange, yellow, white) should help ease the pain of fashionistas.
Nokia X2 vs Nokia X – what’s not different
- Storage options
I know, I know, I can’t be asking a €99 device to accommodate 16 gigs of data sans a microSD card. But maybe it’d have been smart of Nokia to build at least a version with 8 GB of internal storage space. A pricier model, obviously, and one to retain the precious microSD support. As things stand, both the X and X2 only offer 4 GB of memory.
Technically, the first-gen X’s recommended retail value is €89, so €10 less. But surely, you’re not going to skimp on the equivalent of 14 bucks when considering a purchase.
- Microsoft apps and services and no Google Play
Between you and me, the sole reason the Nokia X and X2 exist is as part of an MS ploy to sway Android enthusiasts to Google alternatives like OneNote, OneDrive, Skype, Outlook, Here Maps and so on and so forth. So no, don’t even dream of seeing a Nokia offer access to the Play Store anytime soon. Make that ever.
- Limited availability
Acknowledging the X series could cannibalize entry-level Lumia sales or simply not be enough to challenge Motorola’s Moto G and E, Microsoft is reluctant to take it to the big stage. You know, the States, Western Europe, all the big, rich markets. Of course, they haven’t spelled that out for us yet, but they’ve announced availability “in select countries globally”, and the hints are glaring. Asia, parts of Europe (particularly the poor parts), maybe Latin America, that’s where the X2 will be up for grabs, and that’s final.