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Nokia’s Androids are cute, but they’re not strong enough for Asia

Nokia X+ rivals in Asia

Yesterday, Nokia (HEL:NOK1V; NYSE:NOK) outed its three colorful, cute, and budget-minded Android phones, the X, X+, and XL. Priced from $122 to $150, they’re clearly aimed at developing nations where Nokia Asha isn’t good enough and where Windows Phone isn’t growing fast enough – though that’s not the explanation given by Microsoft-owned Nokia, of course.

But can the Nokia X, X+, and XL appeal in major Asian markets that have been dumping Nokia phones in the past few years in favor of Android smartphones – in nations like China, India, and Indonesia? In all three of those countries, Nokia has been crushed as people buy up Android phones at a diverse array of price points. While Samsung has been the main beneficiary so far, a number of homegrown phone brands have sprouted up in these nations and are challenging the status quo.

It’s because of those new, local brands – ones like Xiaomi in China and Micromax in India – that I don’t believe Nokia’s new Androids stand a chance. Looking at Nokia’s middle phone, the $136 Nokia X+ (pictured above), you’ll be astonished to see what else you can buy for that exact same amount of money. Check out what Xiaomi’s budget Redmi and the Micromax Canvas Fun A76 – both Android phones – offer in comparison:

Nokia X+ versus Asian rival phones - chart

While specs aren’t everything, I don’t think that many consumers will be persuaded by the Nokia Androids. Not only do you get a lot less bang for your buck with the Finnish droids, but the cute Nokias have a rather awkward poor-man’s-Windows-Phone homescreen that make them not look enough like proper, grown-up smartphones – at least in the eyes of novice phone buyers, who will be expecting things like pretty icons and super-realistic weather widgets from a new Android device.

For those willing to spend $150, the Nokia XL looks more convincing, with a 5-inch screen allied to a 5MP camera. But it’s quite risky being pricier than the competition in the very price-sensitive lower end of the market.

What would you buy if you needed a phone and only had about $135 to spare?

(Editing by Paul Bischoff)


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