By August 22, 2011

Nokia X7 Review

Nokia-X7 When I was asked to review the X7 I was quite excited to see the changes that the latest update to the Symbian operating system brought to the table. My first smartphone was a Nokia and I had pretty much every new flagship device up to and including the N95. I’ve since moved on to be a confirmed iOS user with the occasional use of the systems (even WebOS!) but I have ignored Nokia’s devices since the 5800 showed how, in my opinion, not to do a touch interface.

Nokia’s X7 was launched at the same times as the new version of its Symbian mobile platform, Anna. Together with the E6, the X7 is shipping with Anna preloaded. Many Nokia and Symbian fans out there will love this smartphone as it has a fair crack at finally delivering a usable touch based interface.

Is the X7 an alternative and does Symbian Anna have what it takes to compete with Android, Windows Phone or iOS?

 

The 10 second review

  • Device: Nokia X7
  • Price: £341.94 sim free (kingofgadgets.co.uk). £35.00 per month from Three (24 month contract)
  • Summary: A high end price tag with 2 year old specifications
  • Best of: Screen, Build Quality
  • Worst of: Camera, speed, web browsing, price

 

What’s in the box?

  • Nokia X7
  • 8GB microSD card (class 4)
  • In-ear noise headphones,
  • Micro USB wall charger
  • Micro USB to USB sync cable
  • Quick start guide and safety information

 

Nokia X7 Specification:

  • 2G Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G Network: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
  • Dimensions: 119.7 x 62.8 x 11.9 mm, 85 cc
  • Weight: 146 g
  • Display: AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 360 x 640 pixels, 4.0 inches
  • Gorilla glass display
  • Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
  • Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
  • 3.5mm jack
  • 256 MB RAM, 1 GB ROM
  • microSD, up to 32GB, 8GB included
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: v3.0 with A2DP
  • microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go support
  • Camera: 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, fixed focus, dual-LED flash
  • Geo-tagging, face detection, [email protected]
  • OS: Symbian Anna OS
  • CPU: 680 MHz ARM 11 processor, Broadcom BCM2727 GPU
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • Digital compass
  • Flash Lite 4.0
  • Standard battery, Li-Ion 1200 mAh (BL-5K)

 

Review:

Nokia refers to the X7 as an entertainment phone, setting it apart from some of their more business orientated offerings. The specs aren’t on par with what you’d be used to in terms of the latest Android devices but it does pack a nice 4-inch capacitive AMOLED display.

In terms of processor speed, a 680MHz ARM11 CPU is called into battle here against the 1GHz and upwards chips more commonly found in newly released handsets from other manufacturers. The internals of the X7 are not going to win any contests for innovation but the overall build quality, materials and attention to detail are excellent.

Multimedia playback is decent as is basic multitasking but it struggles with heavy web browsing and suffers lag when zooming web pages. The X7 does support flash but this is best left switched off for a more enjoyable general browsing experience. The screen offers nHD resolution (360 x 640 pixels) and it is an AMOLED of four inches, offering a nice, vivid image reproduction with good contrast. The screen has low resolution compared to the standard setting iPhone 4 with its 640 x 960 pixel display and this shows when looking at web pages fully zoomed out.

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X7 Screenshot zoomed out

 

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X7 screenshot default zoom

 

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iPhone 4 screenshot default zoomed out view

 

The 256MB of RAM is lacking in comparison to many smartphones of similar price and Symbian Anna often needs more. 512MB would have been welcome! From the 1GB of ROM only 350MB is user accessible but there is an 8GB microSD card (hot swappable) pre-installed to make up for the small storage space on the smartphone itself. Cards of up to 32GB capacity are supported.

The camera was one of the biggest let downs for me. Although the specs are on the money (an eight-megapixel camera and dual LED flash with 720p video recording capability) the photographs produces are not of the quality that I would expect from a handset of this cost. The camera UI aslo did not change when the handset was moved from portrait to landscape orientations even though it was set to do so within the options.

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Nokia X7 – standard settings

 

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iPhone 4 – standard settings

 

The shots above show how poorly the camera performed indoors.

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X7 – standard settings

 

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iPhone 4 – standard settings

 

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X7 – standard settings

 

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iPhone 4 Standard settings

 

As you can see above, the camera performed no better outdoors and in good light giving more washed out images with little depth of colour.

Radio-wise, the X7 is a fully loaded penta-band device. Its full frequency list encompasses GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and UMTS (850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz) with GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA cellular data. This means that the X7 is compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T in the USA so if you are a frequent visitor to America it has you well covered for options. The X7 also has GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, FM Radio, and Wi-Fi b/g/n. The usual sensors are also present with proximity and ambient light, plus an accelerometer. Powering everything is a 1200mAh battery which is not user accessible.

The design of the X7 is somewhat futuristic. You’ve got the angled top and bottom corners and the curved back which make it feel really pleasant but also quite slippery whilst holding the phone. The phone feels solid, and this is mainly because of the build quality and materials used, but the curvature on the back adds to the experience. It is quite reminiscent of an iPhone 3G. The downside to the shape of the device is that the camera hardware button is difficult to locate and use making the soft button on the screen much the better bet.

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Right side of the X7 with the camera and volume buttons.

 

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Rear of the X7 showing the good use of materials and curved back. The camera lens is recessed by a couple of millimeters to help prevent it from becoming scratched

 

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Front of the phone with a small speaker grill at the top of the phone which incorporates the light and proximity sensor. No LED indicator for coverage or notifications is provided. The bottom only holds a single button which is used for bringing up the Menu as well as accessing multi-tasking controls for switching between open applications. 

 

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At the top you’ll find the microUSB port used for synching and charging, the power button as well as the 3.5mm headphone jack. The grills are for show rather than serving a purpose

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The bottom holds the main microphone and the two stereo speakers, while the back is where you’ll find your secondary microphone — useful for recording video. It’s placed right beside the eight-megapixel camera with “third generation” dual LED flash. Unfortunately it’s not the fancy Carl Zeiss optics-enabled camera you’ll find on the Nokia N8, but it definitely delivers more than you’d expect from your regular smartphone.

 

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The left side holds the trays for the SIM and the microSD cards. Since the Nokia X7 doesn’t have a removable battery, the manufacturer went this design. Two slots, one at the top for the microSD and one at the bottom for the SIM card are used. The operation of these can be a bit a bit awkward and they can feel like you’re going to break something. Thankfully you don’t swap out the cards on a regular basis.

 

Software

The Anna software brings with it a portrait full QWERTY software input offering from Nokia. This is something that has been lacking with only a T9 style keypad having been available previously. In use it is hit and miss and is certainly not as user friendly as the iOS or Android keyboards.

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The homescreen reminds me of the Android interface with all the sliding panels and home screens enriched with widgets. The X7 has three home screens, and each one of those holds a maximum of six widgets. This is probably enough for most users, however, some may need more. You can set different backgrounds or wallpapers for each of your screens. This can be a custom image or one from those pre-loaded on the X7.

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A number of different Widgets are available, either preinstalled or downloadable from the OVI store

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The lock screen on Symbian Anna is rather simple. It displays the clock, date, next event (if any), as well as notifications like missed calls, texts and emails. There’s an Unlock button on the bottom of the screen which, once pressed, will unlock the smartphone.

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The Menu button brings you to the list of applications. This can be a little confusing as some may be folders. You can easily move the most frequent to the top as well as move icons around. Holding down on the Home button will take you to the webOS card-like multi-tasking window where you can switch to one of the running apps, close a certain program, or choose to close all of them.

Nokia has included their own mapping software, OVI Maps, out-of-the-box. Like most Nokia smartphones, offering turn-by-turn, voice-guided navigation for both driving and walking. The pre-installed maps were very accurate and detailed, GPS wasn’t lagging or reporting incorrect positions. OVI Maps also allows you the possibility of checking in with a place on the map (or creating a place if it doesn’t exist).

The E-mail application is billed as having great Microsoft Exchange support. I have had no end of error messages whilst communicating with my gmail account and the initial set up was somewhat confusing as I was repeatedly asked for my password. I initially blamed this on the keyboard but you need to enter it for each of the types of data that you are syncing (e.g. Mails, Contact and Calendars)

 

Conclusion

The hardware of Nokia N7 is essentially 2 years out of date at launch and the Symbian operating system unfortunately no longer has what it takes to compete with Android and iOS due to the lack of polish and innovation. Nokia has chosen to move to Windows Phone 7 for its high end smartphones and this is, I think, a good move as the design and feel of the device is great.

For fans of the Nokia brand, Symbian, or new entrants in the smartphone world, the X7 is definitely a valid option for a multimedia, social smartphone which also offers free navigation solution but a mid-tier Android device is likely to have superior performance and support for 3rd party apps.

Existing smartphone users will often be frustrated by the platform itself as well as the occasional slow-downs in operation.

To sum up the device in one popular internet description: “Nokia have just turned up to a gun fight carrying a knife”. This is a device with software that they should have released 2 years ago. In today’s market it is outclassed and overpriced.

 

Review by: Phil Lain

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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