Nokia XL is the biggest handset in the Android lineup of the Finnish manufacturer, positioned just below the new Lumia 630. It has decent hardware for an Android phone that costs Rs 10,500, but nothing that sets it apart from the crowd.
Just like Nokia X in the entry-level segment, Microsoft is trying to bring its own flavour of Android to the Rs 10,000 price range with Nokia XL. Does it succeed? Has Microsoft/Nokia made an Android phone that delivers what many have asked from the company for years: the customizability of Android with the durability of Nokia. Find out the answer in our detailed Nokia XL review…
Big and bold
Nokia XL is pretty big for a 5-inch phone, mainly due to the huge bezel around the screen. Nowadays, even the likes of Micromax and Xolo put in more effort in the design process to create handsets that are easy to hold. Not so much for Nokia XL. It is pretty big, bulky and quite a bother if you frequently pull your phone out of your pocket.
Just like Nokia X, the XL is boxy and characterized by sharp edges. There is a little slope on the back that is supposed to make holding the phone easier, but the thickness of the device (10.9mm) defeats the purpose.
The Nokia branding is present on the front as well as the back of the handset. Below the screen is a single touch-sensitive key; but this key is not backlit, so you may find yourself fiddling to hit the back button.
On the right side are the Home and Volume keys, which are easy to access and pretty well-designed. The camera, LED flash and speaker are at the bottom.
Overall, the device is quite solid, just a little bulkier than what we would prefer.
Custom version of Android
Like Nokia X, the Nokia XL also runs on a customized version of Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), similar to devices of a few other companies like Amazon.
The custom software gets rid of Google Play app marketplace and replaces it with Nokia Store. However, you can still download standard Android apps via third-party app stores.
For the benefit of users, Nokia Store itself offers 1Mobile, a popular third-party app store. So, it is pretty easy to access most apps on Nokia XL. It comes with a large number of preloaded apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Astro File Manager, Plants vs Zombies, Newshunt, Vine etc.
Alongside the preloaded apps, you will find several Microsoft and Nokia services. These include Here Maps app, OneDrive etc. These are meant to replace Google’s products in users’ everyday life.
The overall look and feel of the home screen is also similar to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system; you get a single screen with a long scroll, depending on the number of apps you have downloaded. Unlike Windows Phone, you can add widgets here, but it looks a little cramped.
Another crucial part of the Nokia XL user experience is Fastlane, the feature Nokia introduced last year with its Asha phones. It is the multitasking menu that can be accessed by swiping on either left or right from the home screen. It shows all the apps that you have used recently, all the messages you sent and received, and all the calls you made and received etc on a scrollable screen. This makes switching between apps a bit cumbersome.
Performance In terms of hardware, Nokia XL is not as well-equipped as other similarly priced phones. The main issues being the poor screen resolution, slow processor and low RAM.
On a 5-inch screen, Nokia has used 480x800p resolution, the same as Nokia X and Lumia 520. While this screen resolution is acceptable on small screens, on a 5-inch display it does not deliver good results. The pixilation is apparent from the get-go, and you can notice individual pixels while you read or watch a video.
The processor in Nokia XL is a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Play. In the face of demanding apps, a CPU with this configuration does not hold its own, as was visible when we used demanding apps (more on that later).
With just 786MB RAM, there were more than a few times that apps closed automatically during the middle of the process due to ‘Out of Memory’ error.
On the software side, heavy apps were a little slow to start, but most of the commonly-used apps like WhatsApp and Facebook worked well. Moreover, with most apps available via third-party app stores, you can just use a custom skin if you want a more personalized user experience, sans the Windows Phone UI.
The multimedia experience was acceptable, but nothing extraordinary. All of the common video file formats could be played easily (using third-party apps like MX Player Pro). Audio quality from the speakers is not good and even at low volumes you will find the sound cracking.
Battery life of Nokia XL is pretty good; the 2,000mAh battery can take you through an entire day. In our test, we used the phone for approximately an hour of calls and video watching each, a couple of hours of playing games and five-six hours of playing music. All the while, 3G or Wi-Fi was turned on.
Nokia XL packs a 5MP camera with LED flash on the back. The camera takes decent photos, offering accurate colour rendition and good contrast level, but lacking details. One good thing about photos taken from this camera is that dark areas did not show any grains. You can use Nokia XL to take a selfie with its 2MP front camera. Here the images appear grainy, as they do in most low-end phones.
Nokia XL, the top model in the company’s Android series, is an okay device, but seems a little underpowered when compared to other phones in its price bracket. Though Nokia XL offers the hardware quality that the Finnish company is known for, the chipset leaves something to be desired.
There are several better options in the market that one can go for instead, such as Micromax Canvas 2.2 and HTC Desire 310; if screen size is not a problem, Moto E would be a better option at a cheaper price. Overall, we do not feel Nokia has a winner model at hand in XL.