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Nokia tested Android on Lumia before Microsoft deal

Nokia was closer to aligning itself with Google than we thought, and tested Android on its Lumia handsets.

Ah, what could've been. Nokia may now be firmly ensconced in Microsoft's bosom, but it was closer to using Android on its smart phones than we thought.

According to sources speaking to the New York Times, Nokia was testing Android on its Lumia devices "well before" its tie-in with Steve Ballmer and co became official. Which would have left Microsoft with a rather large hole to fill in its mobile strategy.

Nokia makes up 80 per cent of all Windows Phone handsets sold, so without it, Microsoft would have been up Symbian alley without a paddle.

The Finnish phone firm signed a deal with Microsoft in 2011 to use the Windows Phone OS on its handsets, but had the option of opting out at the end of 2014. This is when it was considering switching to Android. Microsoft was aware of this, according to the sources, but it wasn't mentioned in the discussions between Microsoft and Nokia.

Still, the existence of a working Android-powered Lumia may have chivvied Microsoft on somewhat in striking a deal.

Nokia probably wouldn't have wanted the hassle of switching operating systems, either. It would've been a "costly setback" according to the New York Times. Nokia previously admitted it'd considered Android, but part of the reason it chose Windows Phone was because it thought Samsung would dominate Google's OS. Which it does. This has also been a bugbear for Google, which switched to LG to make its Nexus handsets, and may drop Samsung as the company behind its Nexus 10 tablet.

Microsoft will complete its acquisition of Nokia's mobile division early next year. Before then, Nokia is expected to launch the Lumia 1520 Bandit, its last flagship device before it enters Ballmer's lair, and the company's first 6-inch mobile.

Should Nokia have backed Android? What will being owned by Microsoft mean for its handsets? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.