We may be a step closer to knowing what the rumored Android-powered(s goog) Nokia(s nok) Normandy phone is. Thanks to the relatively reliable @evleaks, the Normandy hardware shares many components with Nokia’s Lumia 520, a low-cost Windows Phone(s msft) that’s proving to be popular for Microsoft’s platform. If the leaked specifications are correct, Normandy could easily be priced in the $50 to $99 range, if not even lower.
The dual-SIM support and relatively meager hardware further support my thought that the Normandy will supplant Nokia’s Asha line of entry-level smartphones. Some are questioning if Microsoft will allow Nokia to launch an Android-based device — Microsoft is about to close on a $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia’s devices business — but I think Microsoft wants this phone launched.
Why? The Asha line of handsets meets a certain need — the low-end market where there is room for sales growth, but it lacks in another: Support for Microsoft apps and services. By using Android as the base for Normandy, Microsoft can make use of its software built for Android to get first-time smartphone owners using Microsoft apps and services. When these folks are ready to step up to a more capable device, they can migrate to a Lumia handset running Windows Phone.
I actually own a Lumia 520; I picked one up for $40 unlocked and without contract. It lacks a 4G radio but Windows Phone itself runs quite well on the device. In fact, the platform has always performed good on lesser hardware, which has some wondering why Microsoft would even need Android in the Normandy.
My suspicion is that Windows Phone will be “scaling up” a bit later this year and will need more capable hardware for a good experience. At the April Build event, I expect to hear more details on this as Windows Phone, Windows RT and Windows 8.1 gain more commonality in code and APIs, requiring more horsepower in a handset. If that happens, the Normandy running on Android with these specifications makes more sense.