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Nokia Corp. unveiled three new smartphones under the Nokia X brand today – and their operating system is an interesting mix of Android and Windows.

Available in a dizzying array of colours, the Nokia X and X+ have four-inch displays, while the XL is almost a phablet, measuring in at about five inches, writes Natasha Lomas for TechCrunch. While they all run Android by using the Android Open Source Project, they’re not using Google’s services – instead, they’re offering up Nokia’s services, plus Microsoft Corp.’s cloud capabilities. Microsoft announced it’d be acquiring Nokia in September 2013, and the deal’s expected to go through by the end of this quarter.

Screenshots of the Nokia X. (Image: Nokia).
Screenshots of the Nokia X. (Image: Nokia).

All three phones run a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual core processor, according to a blog post from Nokia. The Nokia X comes with an IPS LCD screen, 512 megabytes (MB) of RAM and a three-megapixel camera, while the Nokia X+ is similar, though it comes with 768 MB of RAM, as well as a four gigabyte microSD card for expandable memory.

The Nokia XL, aptly named for its bigger screen, also comes with 768 MB of RAM, the four gigabyte microSD card, and two built-in cameras – a two-megapixel front-facing camera, as well as a five-megapixel rear camera that uses both autofocus and flash.

Combining Android and Nokia is a way to get users of lower-end smartphones intrigued in Nokia phones, rather than just turning to budget Android phones. It’s actually not obvious that Nokia is running Android, as the company has brought in different elements from more than one platform. For example, the homescreen looks similar to Windows Phone, using tiles rather than the icons users typically see with Android. While these aren’t actually the tiles found in Windows Phones, they’re similar enough to draw comparisons between the two.

Plus, the Nokia X phones come with curated Android apps in the native Nokia store, as well as something called the FastLane feed. That’s Nokia’s alternative version of the apps menu on Android, showing users activity and notifications of things happening on the device – for example, Facebook comments, or showing the last picture the user took using the phone.

“The strategy here is for Nokia X handsets to work as “feeder” devices — or, using another metaphor, as a gateway drug — to encourage users who are in the market for a low end smartphone today to upgrade to a full-fat Windows Phone-powered Nokia Lumia tomorrow,” Lomas writes.

To entice people to try the Nokia X brand and to compete with other low-cost, Android phones, the Nokia X starts at around $122 U.S., while the X+ is $136 U.S. The XL comes in at around $150 U.S.

The Nokia X is already up for sale in Asia Pacific, Europe, India, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, while the Nokia X+ and XL won’t be available until the second quarter of this year. So far, there’s been no word of a Canadian availability date.

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