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Nokia X3-02 Review

 

Nokia X3-02 Review

 
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Smartphones are no longer special. Enter the Nokia X3-02 Touch and Type, a semi-smart phone with a 2.4in touchscreen and a keypad, optimised for typing rather than just keying-in numbers. Typical of the X series, it's edgier-looking than its C-series cousin. There are some curves - the phone's back is contoured for comfort in your palm and the top and bottom of the phone's front are curved so that the body doesn't look too imposing - but sharp lines are the order of the day here.

We've been testing the slightly-pearlescent white version of the Nokia X3-02, which sits in a friendly middle-ground between these two camps. It's not all-white - there's a silver brushed metal battery cover that significantly boosts this phone's feeling of build solidity. At 77g, this is one seriously light phone, but thanks to the metal backplate it doesn't feel like a budget weakling. The Nokia X3-02 is equipped with Wi-Fi, speedy HSPA mobile internet and a 5-megapixel camera. Is this really a smartphone though? It runs Symbian S40 v8, traditionally thought-of as a feature phone OS, but at this late point in its life it can just about do most of the things a "full" smartphone OS can do.

This "best of both worlds" approach is what Nokia has strived for in this phone. Its physical buttons offer a life line for those still unsure of going full-touchscreen, and we appreciate the dimensions of its petite and slim 9.6mm body. That's just 0.3mm thicker than the iPhone 4, which only has to fit in one front button, not the 16 seen here- including four handy soft key shortcuts. On top of the phone there are 3.5mm headphone, micro USB and proprietary Nokia charging ports. The X3-02 can be charged over USB as well as the Nokia jack, but charging is slower than with Nokia's adapter, which we suppose is of import to some people (most smartphones seem to manage with just microUSB, though).

The Nokia X3-02 is powered by the Symbian S40 operating system. It's the lowest-end OS Nokia has, primarily due to its lack of multi-tasking, but at this stage of Symbian development, it offers most of the key features of Symbian S60, its bigger brother. The Nokia Communities feature gives you access to your Twitter and Facebook feeds in a relatively easy-to-use (though somewhat slow) app-style format, while the Mail app is happy to take on multiple accounts at once, from Ovi Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail and Hotmail.

Symbian S40's widget-based home screen isn't a patch on Android, which offers thousands of different widgets that you can position much more freely, but these limitations don't feel too encumbering on the small 2.4-inch screen. Other built-in apps are mostly basic, comprised of a world clock, calculator, unit converter, voice recorder and to-do list - as well as a few games. The one concession to today's demand for snazzy apps is Shazam, the music identification app.

The Nokia X3-02 also has access to the Ovi Store, Nokia's own app store. App support is very limited though, thanks to the phone's operating system. Current S40 phones may offer many features we'd associate with higher-end phones when laid-out as bullet points, but apps available for this phone look and feel like feature phone apps. They're basic and often a little crude. You can have a browse of the games and apps available to the phone at the Ovi Store web portal.

Perhaps the most disappointing omission of the Nokia X3-02 is GPS navigation. There's no software installed, and no GPS capabilities lurk in the background, waiting to be explored. Most Symbian S60 phones offer GPS and come with the free, and very useful, Ovi Maps software, so bear that in mind if you want your phone to double as a navigation device. The phone uses a resistive touchscreen, which - unlike the capacitive panel used in most smartphones - senses direct pressure rather than conduction. When used with a finger or thumb, this type of touchscreen feels unresponsive and inaccurate compared with the capacitive kind. However, that's precisely the point of having the physical keypad - typing is the one thing that suffers most from a poor touchscreen.

Full web browsing is in, and snappy to load thanks to 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, but navigation is a little sluggish. Thanks to the resistive screen, there's no multi-touch. The essential zoom feature therefore relies on an unresponsive double-tap manoeuvre, or a series of taps using the interface's virtual buttons.

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