We elbowed our way through the demo stand to check out the five-inch Nokia XL, the biggest of Nokia’s three Android-based smartphones that were unveiled this morning at MWC 2014…
The Nokia XL was unsurprisingly mega-popular on Nokia’s stand, and even though we were one of the first to touch it, it was already glistening with journo sweat, not to mention weighted down by expectation. Just minutes earlier Nokia announced this 5-inch handset, which runs Android apps but replaces Google’s cloud services with Microsoft’s OneDrive and other apps. But how does it look and feel, and how’s that interface?
In terms of design, the Nokia XL is a boxy little number that’s big in the hand but feels quite comfortable to wield, thanks to the slightly rounded corners and soft-touch strokable body. It’s quite a handful, comparable to the likes of Sony’s Xperia Z2 – those with dainty hands will no doubt prefer the more compact build of the Nokia X and Nokia X+, both 4-inch devices.
As you can see below, the XL is a significant chunk bigger than the X and X+, which are an inch smaller and much easier on the hand…
Turn on the Nokia XL and the interface immediately looks familiar. Flick past the glance screen and you’ll find the lock screen, which contains all of your waiting notifications as normal, and then you’re whisked into the home screen, which uses the same awesome live tile set-up of the Nokia Windows Phone handsets.
You can move and resize your tiles as normal, and use folders to tidy up your desktop. And if the tiles are big enough, they’ll display info as before (for instance, the gallery will show a slideshow of your photos).
Swipe across the screen and you’ll find Fastlane, a new interface which aims to bring together all of your most popular apps and features, for convenience – ideal for thos eliving life in the fast lane, see what they did there? Your social updates and other bits will pop up here, along with your most-used apps, media controls, recent shots you’ve taken and so on. You can populate it as you like, and remove any elements you don’t want.
Drag down at the top of the screen and you’ll find the quick power controls, similar to the fast-access buttons found on Android’s notification bar. Here you can also swap between the dual SIMs.
The new app store coms packing the likes of Skype and Plants v Zombies 2, although it’s nowhere near as comprehenesive as the Google Play store. We’re hoping that many developers will port over to this platform soon, as it apparently will take little time and cost. In the meantime, we saw a couple of simple games running smoothly, although Plants v Zombies was a little juddery.
The 5-megapixel camera so far doesn’t pack the excellent range of features found on Nokia Camera, so you don’t get full manual controls, and there’s no sign of the Smart Camera tools either. However, it seemed to do an admirable job of snapping other harrangued journos in the darkened hall, and seems capable enough for a budget camera.
We’ll bring you a full review of the Nokia XL and the rest of Nokia’s X range as soon as we bag a handset of our own!