Nokia unveils first Android phones

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Although Nokia will soon be taken over by Microsoft,the company announced three new members to the Nokia X family.

Nokia showed off Monday a new range of smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop took to the stage at Mobile World Congress to unveil three low-end Android phones mostly intended for emerging markets.

Nokia’s new phones, the Nokia X, Nokia X+ and the Nokia XL are powered by Qualcomm’s 1GHz Snapdragon dual core processor, are Dual SIM and feature a Lumia-style design with a myriad of color choices.

The operating system of the phones is a modified version of Android’s Jelly Bean, and the home screen looks similar to Windows Phone. The devices will not have access to Google’s Play store but instead third-party app stores and Nokia’s app store of its own.

“Today, Windows Phone is the fastest growing mobile ecosystem in the world, and we continue to see incredible momentum with our Lumia smartphones,” said Bryan Biniak, vice president and general manager of developer experience at Nokia in a statement. “Now, with the introduction of the Nokia X family of devices, we’re delivering the same design, quality and innovation Nokia is known to lower price points to capture the fastest-growing segment of the smartphone market.”

It’s possible that a Microsoft-owned Nokia could someday make a premium handset based on that same Android code base, using high-quality hardware similar to today’s Lumia-branded devices but running a successor to the software introduced today on the Nokia X. Those devices could conceivably compete with top-of-the-line Android phones for those who prefer the Android UI (and its selection of apps) but want Microsoft services (especially Office apps) in place of Google’s.

The first Nokia X phone will be a rather mid-range number, with a 4-inch screen (800 x 480 resolution) and a dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon processor. It’s also only 89 Euros or around US$120. It’s joined by the Nokia X+ which has more storage and an SD card slot. The Nokia XL has a larger, 5-inch screen, a 5-megapixel rear camera, and 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

While this family of phones isn’t the full-blown Android experience people may have been anticipating, the handsets are priced to sell in emerging markets.