Nokia said to have loaded Android onto some Lumia phones before Microsoft deal [UPDATED]

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: September 13, 2013

Nokia Lumia 1020

Just about any time that a new Nokia Lumia Windows Phone is released, comments of "If only it ran Android!" are sure to follow. Of course, the partnership formed between Microsoft and Nokia in February 2011 always made such a device seem unlikely, and the fact that Microsoft recently agreed to acquire Nokia's hardware business means that what many folks have described as their dream device won't ever come to fruition. According to a new report, though, Nokia has loaded Android onto some of its phones in the past.

Sources speaking to the New York Times claim that before the negotiations of Microsoft's purchase of the Nokia Devices and Services division got underway, a group inside of the Finnish firm had loaded Android onto some of its Lumia smartphones. Interestingly, the work of getting Android onto Nokia's phones was reportedly "not a Herculean engineering effort." It's said that the current status of Nokia's Android project is up in the air, but considering that Microsoft has agreed to drop billions in cash for Nokia's hardware team, it seems likely that there won't be much more effort put into it.

Even though a Nokia-made Android phone is something that countless folks have wished for, there's not much evidence to suggest that Nokia was really planning to switch, at least not while still bound to its 2011 partnership with Microsoft. However, that agreement was set to end once 2014 was over, and so it's possible that Nokia could have eventually adopted Google's green robot. Thanks to Microsoft and Nokia's recent deal, we'll probably never know how Nokia would've fared in the Android arena. An Lumia Android phone sure is fun to imagine, though, and I'm sure that today's news will make a lot of folks even more frustrated with the whole situation than they already were.

UPDATE: Some more details on Nokia's Android efforts have surfaced. According to The Verge, the company had a program called "Asha on Linux" in which it planned to use a version of Android that would run on low-end hardware. It's said that Nokia was considering creating its own Amazon-like fork of Android, with a launch expected to occur sometime in 2014. This new report also backs up the original claims of Android-powered Lumia hardware, saying that the Nokia wanted a backup plan in case of a Windows Phone failure.

Nokia wasn't alone in its secret handset testing, though, as Microsoft reportedly built several "Surface Phone" prototypes. Details on the hardware are light, but Microsoft allegedly wanted its own "Plan B" in case Nokia's hardware failed to help Windows Phone grow.