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Hacking a Nokia X can turn it into a real Android

By Joe Levi March 11, 2014, 7:10 am
Nokia XL

As you might recall, Nokia showed off its first “Android” phones at MWC this year. Why the “air quotes”, you ask? Because the Nokia X family aren’t real Androids, at least not in the traditional sense. If you disagree with that statement, you’re not alone. Over 150 comments were left on that article either telling us we’re spot on, or that we’re totally wrong.

The TL/dr summation: the Nokia X family all run Android, but since they’ve got their own Windows Phone-esque launcher, none run Google’s apps, and they come with their own Nokia app store (rather than Google’s Play Store), calling them Androids isn’t being completely honest. On the flip side, the phones themselves look pretty nice and appear to be fairly durable. Sure, their specs aren’t great and their screen resolutions are a bit low, but they’re in line with the market that Nokia is targeting.


All that having been said, since they already run on top of Android, there’s got to be some way to make them look and feel a little more like what we’ve come to expect from other devices that call themselves “Androids”, right?

Sideload a Launcher

The first way to liberate the Nokia X is as simple as sideloading a launcher. To do so, all you’ve got to do is head into security settings and check the “Unknown sources” box, then download and install your favorite launcher as an .apk.

The hideous half-Windows Phone monstrosity that ships with the Nokia X won’t be gone, but you won’t see it either. Already, the Nokia X is starting to look like and Android!

Unfortunately, there is more to being an Android than just the underlying OS and the way the launcher looks and feels. Android is very much about the eco-system that comes with the majority of Android-powered devices.

That was a major sticking point in the other article. Would you call a phone that didn’t look like an iPhone, didn’t feel like iOS, and couldn’t install any apps or media from iTunes an iPhone? No? I wouldn’t either. Similarly, if you can’t get the Play Store and it’s apps and media onto your device, is it really an Android?

Root is magic

Luckily, you can even get past those limitations as well, and yes, it requires rooting. After you’ve assumed the risk, you can acquire root though the Galdalf Exploit in the Framaroot app.

Next, sideload your favorite root-capable file manager.

Copy the Gapps package that has been specially crafted for the Nokia X to your /system/app folder, and apply the appropriate permissions.

Reboot, install a few more apps, and you’re good to go! You can even access the Google Play Store, various Google Apps, and you can even run the Google Now Launcher — previously known as the Google Experience launcher — just remember to open it first.

See how easy that was? In fact, it was almost too easy… it’s almost as if Nokia wanted you to be able to un-Windows Phonify the X.

One last item of note: even though you can hack your Nokia X and turn it into a “real Android”, the specs are still the same, so don’t expect to win any performance contests or run the latest and greatest hi-res games. If that’s okay by you, we can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t want to turn your Nokia X into a real Android.


Sources: XDA Developers 1, 2


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