MWC 2014: A closer look at the performance of the Nokia X and XL smartphones

Once you accept that Nokia's X, X+ and XL phones are Android – Android 4.1.2, to be precise – you can do some fun things with them. No, you can't load any of the Google apps yet, although I'm sure some enterprising hacker will figure out an illicit way to do that within days.

But loading the Amazon Appstore? No problem; I had it set up within a minute.

The next logical move, of course, was to load the Antutu benchmarking app and run Sunspider to test the phones' browser performance.

These aren't high-end phones, of course. The Nokia X runs on a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 MSM8625Q Cortex-A5 CPU at 1GHz, with an Adreno 203 GPU. The point of these devices is that they're really cheap, but they're smartphones.

Here's how the Nokia X and XL compared to a few different current categories of smartphones we've tested recently with the same versions of Antutu and Sunspider:

Antutu's website goes further, saying that these guys aren't even giving you the raw power of a Samsung Galaxy S2.

As you can see, these phones don't really deliver the juice. They don't deliver it in person, either; there's a notable lag when dragging the new tiles around the screen, when launching applications and when transitioning between screens. But everything works. Third-party Android apps work. The Microsoft services work. Unlike the Asha phones, these are real smartphones with tens of thousands of apps available.

Let's note that Microsoft is just a year behind this project: Nokia's future owners announced support for the Snapdragon 200 chipset yesterday, which means the X could have been built on Windows Phone, if Nokia was willing to wait. Of course, it still could be in the future, or some variant of the X…

Nokia X users may be willing to offer a bit of patience in exchange for getting a well-built smartphone with a simple, attractive interface. But it doesn't look like Nokia itself was.

Jamie Lendino contributed to this story.

For more on the Nokia X, see our hands-on with the smartphone where we ponder its value-for-money factor.

And for all the latest news, photos and analysis from MWC 2014, check out our live coverage of the event.