The Nokia X7 is not a ground breaking phone, but it is the first device to ship with Symbian Anna / PR2 (officially) on it. Unfortunately it’s also the only device that has actually begun shipping, except for the exclusive pink N8. Symbian Anna brings many welcomed changes that legacy users have been clamoring for. The interface has changed slightly, thanks to a new icon format and inclusion of the Nokia Pure font. The photo gallery and camera interface took a serious overhaul while the browser received a performance bump but still remains ugly and borderline unusable.
Read on for a mini-review on the X7.
The design of the X7 is original. A large 4″ AMOLED CBD (ClearBlackDisplay) screens adorns the front. It’s Gorilla Glass and capacitive and multi-touch enabled. The screen is bright and visible indoors, as well as clear and crisp, albeit extremely reflective, when natural light is introduced in the outdoors. Gone are the old TFT and LCD displays with bland colors and heavy washout. Nokia put a lot into this display, it’s similar technology behind AMOLED, it’s really great and is on both the E7 and N8.
The angular design of the phone makes it feel much smaller in hand, but also forces you to hold it slightly differently from most other devices. This becomes an issue with button placement. Due to the curved back, the buttons are pushed to the rear of the device where the fingers do not naturally sit when holding. Increasing the volume on a call and even using the camera shutter key takes more than a few days to get used to.
The right side houses the integrated slots for SIM and microSD cards. The mechanism for ejecting the card tray is very peculiar and my inexperience caused me to break the SIM tray lever. Although regular users won’t be removing SIM and memory cards all that often, Nokia has been constantly changing the way they are replaced, leaving me extremely curious every time a new device is announced.
The 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port and power button, which doubles as a lock key, sit at the top of the device and a small microphone port at the bottom. The overall design is very minimal, 4 buttons in total and only one faces the user for daily interaction.
The X7 has 4 grilles on each corner, but only 2 of these grilles have speakers behind. At the very least, the speakers should have been placed on opposite ends of the device to provide a simulated surround effect by feeding both the left and right ears. The good thing is, thanks to the placement, you’ll never block or muffle the speakers at all. The X7 packs a serious punch when it comes to multimedia, as it should, being an X-series device. The large vivid screen and the loud, never-distorting speakers make movie watching very enjoyable.
The camera on the X7 is Nokia’s “full-focus” Extended Depth of Field (EDoF). In laymen’s terms, shooting anything closer than you can spit on, will result in eyesores and immediate blindness. Don’t let the 8 megapixel label fool you.
Regardless of distance, the camera takes grainy, noisy, and blurry shots. Consistently. Maybe it’s due to the early firmware, maybe the camera drivers or algorithm needs to be tweaked. In any fashion, if you’re looking for a phone that takes pictures as bad as a BlackBerry, look no further. Everybody else, please get an N8 and call it a day.
The X7 brings along many needed enhancements to Symbian. Unfortunately, the software on the X7 tested is still in pre-release form, so lag, freezes and hangups should be resolved by availability date. Navigating around the interface was smooth and quick, rarely any stuttering and interactions were immediate. Once you move into browsing and ‘heavier’ tasks, the X7 seems to chug and slow down very quickly. Even though Anna brings with it, a new browser and several engine optimizations, it’s still a piss-poor experience. The interface is cluttered and clunky, it’s slow to respond and the low resolution screen is absolutely horrific for reading anything serious. If your main use of a phone is web surfing, stay far away.
On a brighter side, Nokia Maps is hands-down the greatest navigation software for any mobile device. GPS locks are fast, online searching is quite thorough and the turn-by-turn instructions are completely customizable. The Maps application loads near instantly, displaying POI and location information. In addition to the bundled apps on the X7, Nokia’s Store (formerly, Ovi Store) has over 50,000 apps available to users and there must be a good selection, as almost 7 million downloads per day are made. Nokia includes a few of their own, Social, Chat and IM as well as QuickOffice for Word support, an Adobe PDF reader and on-device photo and video editing tools.
If you’ve read one review of Symbian, you’ve basically read them all. Symbian is a tired workhorse being fed steroids to try and keep up with greyhounds. It was around first, but it grew old and stagnated. Ironically, plans for a trip to the glue factory were signed and dotted by Stephen Elop on February 11th, when Nokia announced Windows Phone 7 would be their dominant smartphone platform.
The X7 is a great smartphone for experienced entry-level users. The great design and aluminum body feel great in hand, no doubt the X7 is durable. The screen is large and the speakers are loud, great for watching movies.
The X7 is superb hardware, running legacy software that’s been purposefully buried by Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia. Successfully buried according to recent Q2 numbers, might I add. So long X7, you had nary a chance.