Nokia X7 - Review

Nokia X7 - Review

The Nokia X7 is a smartphone designed and manufactured by Nokia and runs the Symbian Anna mobile operating system. The device features a 4 inch capacitive touchscreen display, 8MP camera with dual LED flash, 8GB microSD among many other features.

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The Nokia X7 brings thee words sleek and stylish back to Nokia's Symbian lineup. It has a stainless steel body and a Gorilla Glass display which ensures you will never have to hide your device under fat bulky casings. The device is one that simply screams 'beauty' and I could sing nothing but praises on my First Impressions post.

But using this device over the last week made me wonder has Nokia missed an important design element in their mission to provide a great look? The four buttons on the X7's right and left sides are almost impossible to press without the risk of dropping the phone. I had the device almost slip out of my finger on more than one occasion and I am sure other users would have had this issue to deal with. So in an attempt to find out if Nokia's latest attempt at smartphone dominance has been a success, lets take a closer look at the hardware and software on the Nokia X7.
Lets start off by taking a look at the key hardware features on the X7
  • 4 inch AMOLED display; Gorilla Glass protection; ClearBlack technology.
  • Slim stainless steel body.
  • 8 megapixel camera with 720p HD video.
  • 8 GB microSD provided.
  • Superior audio quality.
Lets also take a look at the key software features which contribute to any good device
  • Symbian Anna (upgrades to Symbian Belle).
  • DivX and Xvid playback.
  • Flash and Java support on the web browser.
Now that we have takes a look at the good, its time to look at the bad. Lets talk about some of the key issues I had with the X7.
  • Bad button placement - The device has a sleek curved look. But this makes the buttons almost impossible to use. The buttons which are on the curve of the device are difficult to handle and I had the device slip out of my hand on more than one occasion.
  • Bad tray design - While the tray design for the SIM slot and memory card slot look innovative, when it comes to taking either out out, I realized that I could have done without that innovation. On the plus side the build quality is quite good so I don't think the trays will break with the extensive tugging and pulling that will happen.
  • Fixed Focus camera - I cannot stress enough on how much I hate fixed focus. Yet again I had several photos taken with the X7 result in blurry out of focus photos. The camera button placement didn't help as you can't hold the device comfortably to take a good photo.
  • Randomly connects online - This is something I have not seen on a Symbian device before. The X7 kept going online for no reason. The widgets were set to offline mode. No apps were running, but the X7 kept connecting online. In a country like the U.S. where mobile internet is costly, This is not something you will want to both with.
All the issues aside. We have to look at this device for what it is. The new X Series flagship. The X7 which rules the X Series roost for now, is all about entertainment and appeal of a younger audience. To take a look at Nokia's design evolution.


Unboxing

Lets start off by unboxing the Nokia X7 and seeing what the packaging contains.
 

The retail packaging that the X7 comes in is different from anything I have seen from Nokia before. The box is much smaller and has a hard exterior. Opening the box reveals a packaging quite similar to the iPhone.

The device doesn't have much in terms of goodies in the box. You get a regular microUSB cable, microUSB charger, and a one piece headset with Previous, Play/Pause, Next controls. The quality of the headset is quite good, with defined base sound when playing songs.

The device also comes with an 8GB microSD card. I would have preferred if Nokia had added the memory inside the device leaving microSD as an option.


Hardware

Lets start this closeup with our hands-on video with the X7


I have to stand by my first impressions on this device and say that it is the most beautiful phone I have seen from Nokia to date. The device has is sleek with a dark metal body (also comes in silver) which curves on the sides towards its large 4 inch display.

It has a rectangular shape with beveled grilled edges. The bottom grills are actually the speakers on the device with the top two only there for appearance.



The front of the device is mostly taken up by the huge 4 inch display. The slim home button  at the bootom looks almost identical to the ear piece on the top.


The proximity sensor and ambient light sensor which are also next to the earpiece are hidden onto the device and cannot be spotted. The X7 lacks a front facing camera considering this is a high end device.



The display quality is quite good, though it still is not its best under direct sunlight. However I did feel it was better than the Nokia E7 which I reviewed not too long ago. I was even impressed by the viewing angle which allows you to share a video watching on the generous 4 inch display. I keep reading people complain about the nHD (360x640) display comparing it to competitors in the market, but I don't think regular users would complain using this device.


On the top of the device is the power button, 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB port. The power button has a unique shape, I dont quite understand why Nokia chose the strange design for it. The power button also acts as the lock key for your display. I found out that a long press will initiate the ringing profiles but i kept switching off my device by accident so gave up trying. The 3.5mm jack sits next to it following by the microUSB port which doubles as a charger port.


The microphone sits by itself at the bottom of the device.


Before dealing with the left and the right sides I have to point out a huge design flaw on the X7. While the curved sides look beautiful and makes the device feel great to hold. One can easily loose all the love they have for the device when the try to press one of the buttons.

The right side has the volume buttons and the camera key. The keys look really nice against the body but nearly impossible to press without the risk of dropping the device. The fixed focus is supposed to help quickly take a picture, without the hassle of autofocus. But you can forget quickly pulling out this phone to take a photo, as you will probably have to pick it up after it flips out of your hands. There has to have been a better way to implement these button guys and this would probably be the one biggest downfall to a device which is aside from this flawless.


But wait, the left side has it own set of issues. What could have been an ingenious design on the SIM and Memory card trays ended up having it's own issues. You can eject the try by pressing it on one corner. But once it's ejected, its almost impossible to get it out. But I hope Nokia works on this and keeps this design on future models.


The back of the device is mostly made up of metal-black stainless steel. The top and the bottom of the back have plastic caps like on the N8 but blend better into the body of the device. The camera is built into the body unlike the Nokia N8 which had the camera protrude out of the body. The lack of lens protector could result in the lens getting scratched up over time.


The 8MP camera takes decent photos but I continue my stand off against the fixed-focus which I have learned to despise over the last few Nokia smartphones I have tested. The 720p HD video on the other hand is something I really like. The recording is quite similar to the Nokia Astound and the Nokia E7 and you can see the Astound video over here.



The X7 battery cannot be accessed by the user. On paper the 1200 mAh battery can do 450 hours of standby and over 6 hours of talktime. It the tests I had to charge it only twice in two weeks, so I was quite impressed with the results.


Software 

The Nokia X7 runs Symbian Anna which is an update to Symbian^3. The new update brings a new set of icons along and updated UI along with several bug fixes and performance improvements. The purpose of this segment is not to review Symbian Anna in whole, but to discuss the new features which have been added to the Symbian OS.


I was wondering if I should add a video on the Symbian Anna UI, and decided I wouldn't do one as I found great videos online courtesy of GSMArena.


The most notable different in Symbian Anna is the new web browser. The new web browser has a clear UI and leaves more space for browsing.



The other big thing you would notice are the new icons. The icons with the UI an overall polished look with their rounded edges. Lots of the application manufacturers have started to update their icons to go with the new UI.

Symbian Anna still features 3 home screens similar to the older version. But the widgets are now live between homescreen as you can see when you scroll between screens. You can scroll between screen either by swiping or tapping the three dots at the bottom of the screen which indicate the three pages.



The other notable update to Anna is the portrait QWERTY keyboard which ads the option of typing in either landscape or portrait instead of being restricted to the alpha numeric pad. I am happy with the option, but even the 4 inch large screen had me making mistakes typing at times.



Most of the other improvements are under the hood and may go un-noticed. Symbian Anna is not a major improvement over Symbian^3 but still has not noticeable changes. I am going to wait to see how Symbian Belle turns out before I can give my final word on Symbian Anna.


Conclusion

I have no doubt that the X7 looks amazing. It feels good to hold, and the 4 inch display is just the size I like. The brushed metal finish gives the device a rich likable look. If Nokia had better button placement, this device would have won me over completely. The fixed focus camera may not be everyone's choice, but I am willing to forgive Nokia on that because of the 720p HD video. The X7 also does the X Series proud by producing high quality audio, which I enjoyed more on the headphones than on the speakers of the device.


With Symbian Anna on board the X7 takes on iOS and Android bravely, but I think users will still be a little dis heartened with the lack of apps which keep the iPhone and Android smartphones ahead of Symbian. This is an issue which cannot even be fixed by Symbian Belle.

The only reason why I wouldn't choose the X7 would be in favor of Windows Phone. I am glad Nokia didn't hop onto the Android bandwagon, and I will be very interested to see Windows Phone devices from Nokia. Should Nokia give up on Symbian ? NO. I hope they continue to make Symbian devices on the side, I think we can see the Symbian UI evolve into what we see on the N9 today but not just yet unfortunately.

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