Nokia 701 Review

Interface and Functionality:

Compared with previous versions of Symbian for touchscreens, even with Anna, Symbian Belle feels fast, and we are talking a very notable difference. Browsing is faster, swiping and scrolling around the interface feels smooth, while installing apps is also much quicker. There is still a noticeable delay while launching some heavy apps, though.

This zippy performance has something to do with the fact that Belle's code has been optimized for speed with loads of clutter taken out – Nokia claims it has 70% less code than the older versions. Also, we have improved hardware with the 1GHz processor inside the Nokia 701 plus 512MB RAM - this combo is a first for Symbian handsets.

Moreover, for the first time in quite a long period, we were actually enjoying the user interface on a touchscreen Nokia handset. Symbian Belle takes cues from the other popular mobile platforms with its multiple homescreens with individual wallpapers and the ability to place shortcuts on them. There are also widgets with various sizes, and a neat and swift pull-down notification bar with connectivity switches. The initial choice of widgets isn’t very rich, but the basics are covered, the visuals modernized, and some more can be downloaded from Ovi Store. When we add the characteristic landscape mode in Symbian, which works throughout the whole interface and the native apps, things are starting to look even more polished.

While not as versatile as Android, for example, Belle holds its own with the contextual navigational buttons at the bottom of the screen, which are like taken directly from MeeGo-Harmattan on the Nokia N9. There is usually a back, search and context menu button handy on the bottom strip, but they can also change according to the app you are in, like adding a paper clip button for attachments in the email or messaging app.

The context menu options have been reduced, but still present too many redundant choices for the uninitiated. Do we need the “help” option everywhere telling us common sense stuff, for example? The main menu, on the other hand, is now just a scrollable list of fat, easy to press rounded icons, instead of apps distributed amongst arguably decided folders and subfolders like the mess it was before.

It’s a bit inconvenient that you first have to create a folder in the main menu, in order to add it to a homescreen afterwards, instead of directly making one on the homescreen. Also, rearranging the icons is a tad cumbersome since you have to specifically choose “Arrange” from the context menu options instead of just tap, hold and move around like on the homescreens. The search icon on the strip at the bottom of the screen, however, comes handy when you are looking for an app in the long list.

Digging further into Belle, we find that some of the native apps have been updated, too, and for the better. The basics, like Contacts and Calendar have seen the interface rearranged for easier access to options, and some small details are taken good care of, like the abundance of contact detail options (including a personal assistant number, for example) receiving more compact font so much more of them can fit on one screen now. The browser and camera interfaces have been retouched as well, but more about that in the respective sections.

In short, Symbian Belle is the best and closest to Android and iOS effort on Nokia’s part for a touchscreen OS. This is an interface that is pleasant and suitable for everyday usage like nothing that the Finns have done before, and the few flaws left could be easily plugged in subsequent editions. Too bad iOS and Android are with a few hundred thousand apps, and a few hundred pixels of supported resolution ahead of Symbian, making it mission impossible to catch up, especially if your focus has shifted. Belle, however, is great news for people who currently own Symbian^3 devices, as the update should be hitting their handsets soon to breathe new life in their 2010 devices.

Messaging, Internet and Connectivity:

The virtual keyboard with split-screen appearance has stayed from Symbian Anna, which means fat, round and well-spaced letters, with the ease of use only limited by the screen size. The messaging app has made attaching various multimedia a breeze, thanks to the contextual navigational strip at the bottom, same with the email app, but they haven’t changed much other than that.

Browsing on the 701 is the best experience you can have on a Nokia device, thanks to the new interface and the significantly sped up hardware, which makes panning, scrolling and pinching smoother and, Nokia claims, 3x faster than before.

With that said, it’s still not much compared to iOS or Android. The rendering engine resorts to the checkered boxes more often than it should, pages with plugins get scrambled, especially with Adobe Flash, support of which is sorely missed. On 1GHz with dedicated 2D/3D graphics accelerator and 512MB of RAM it’s only a matter of will and a cooperation effort with Adobe to run it. In short – you can teach old dog new tricks, but don’t expect it to perform like a young puppy. One thing the browser does very well, though, and it is automatic text reflow for easier reading of articles.

The Nokia 701 has a 14.4Mbps pentaband HSDPA radio, plus all the usual connectivity suspects, so you can use the phone on any GSM network with 3G speeds, including on T-Mobile USA. As on all touchscreen Symbian handsets of late you have the latest version of Nokia Maps to provide you with free offline voice-guided navigation worldwide, including the US, which recently added public transit and live traffic support in major countries, so you don’t need to splurge for navigational software.

The handset also offers an FM radio with RDS, and the Play via Radio FM transmitter app, which streams the sound to a radio station frequency of your choosing. Mass storage mode and USB-on-the-go for hooking up flash drives directly are also becoming standard for higher-end Nokias with Symbian, and are thus present on the 701. Since there is no HDMI or DLNA capabilities, your only option for video on a bigger screen is the composite TV-out via the audio jack.

What sets it apart in the connectivity department, though, is the embedded NFC chip with its own polished little app. Nokia has announced some grand plans for NFC functionality going into all of its future handsets, so it might not go to waste, especially if you have other new Nokias around to bump and quickly exchange files with, without pesky PIN codes like with Bluetooth. Mobile payments and using NFC as an access pass are taking off rather slowly, though, so ultimately it’s still a show-off-to-my-friends feature.



1. Mercenary unregistered

I don't know why nokia keep in using fixed-focus cameras!

2. Stoli89

Posts: 333; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

It's actually an EDoF or full focus camera. Fix focus implies a fixed focal length. EDoF, on the other hand, gets everything in focus beyond 40cm from the lens. Hence the term FULL focus. decent Macro. focusing delays and excellent 720p 30fps video. The EDoF technology also has no moving parts. The lens system is complex and each lens is non-symmetrical, requiring extra computer processing steps to merge 3 different "blurred" images into one final in-focus image. It's not cheap tech becasue the lenses themselves are highly engineered and costly to fabricate. The vast majority who use this camera find it great for daytime/outdoor/action pics and video capture. It falls down with macro and low light conditions.

4. nokia 701 unregistered

good review phonearena , but why you not review nfc ???? this is unfair phonearena , anyways it is better than iphone4s

6. Anand Harikrishnan unregistered

Are you guys sure that this device has usb otg...?

16. hari120

Posts: 22; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

yes all s^3 phone have it

7. oscar1

Posts: 4; Member since: Sep 05, 2011

This will never make it to the USA

8. Ukrs unregistered

Just bought Nokia 701. Screen is simply amazing, i red, that it wil be bright in direct sunlight, but i couldn`t believe my eyes. Speed is fantastic, feels sturdy and very durable, and that screen, i just cant stop starring!!!! Great phone. And in the box i got NFC present from Nokia Store, NFC seems futuristic.

10. Ukrs unregistered

OMG, i just realised, that brightness was set "only" to 50%!!!!! :O

12. Babis unregistered

the videos at 720p are laggy but hope an update will be better i have ordered mine to replace my c7 from in UK and is out 28th october for a good deal for brand new at £280

13. RockyJ unregistered

I am wishing that one day, the Nokia management will wake up and switch their OS from Symbian to ANDROID if they want their phones to sell like "HOTCAKE", especially if they produced the camera lens from "fixed-focus" to "AUTOFOCUS". Fixed-focus lenses are useless in close-up shots and low-light condition.

21. krloz unregistered

i think that making nokia phones run android would be stupid cuz every other manufacturer is running android id rather have variaty than just one ecosystem you dont like simbyan then you have all other brands if u want android

14. unregistered

Bought in yesterday ih Greece for 350 euros. Coming from many top Androids, I have to say that the screen, battery-life, earpiece loudness and signal holding abilities are amazing. The materials and its size and shape are also excellent! It is also very fast. Ovi has about fifty thousand apps and I think that I can live without the hundreds of thousands of the Android market. No need for apps for dialers, messaging etc! No need for an afternoon recharge either! I LIKE IT A LOT!

15. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Makes me excited for WP on Nokia.

17. hari120

Posts: 22; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

phone looks awesome

22. dileep unregistered

i also agree with u

18. i like it unregistered

i dont know if that's a common prob, the phone sometimes hangs and i even had to restart it once. Else the phone is good and i m one happy user. Camera is good and the display really is the best .forget android, at this price range it's the best smartfon with superb perfrmance and functions.

19. Yavor unregistered

Did you forget to mention in the review that GSM talk time is 17 hours by specification? I do not think so. This cannot be compare to any android phone in the same class. For some people battery life is very important. But this is normal for phone arena, because they do not make review of the battery life.

20. anubhav23456789 unregistered

i bought this phone and its blindingly fast. better than the optimus 2x and desire. and symbian is way way more stable than android or iOS. @winsaki234 this thing has the ability to beat all android phones under 25k. u check ur stats then post somthng.

23. papu unregistered

should i buy this phone..

24. Anand25692 unregistered

Hey guys, I am going to buy iPhone 4. But, I find this piece really cool. So, please suggest me that should I waste extra money of about $200 just to have an apple product?

25. Narendra dewnani unregistered

Bought in india on 8/10/2011.Good camera-good video.BIG LET DOWN ITS SOUND.POOR SOUND-POOR RINGTONES.Hardly can hear it.

26. sachinpuri

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

HI ALL, NOKIA OS SYMBIAN PATH S30 >S40 >S60 > Symabian^3 > Symbian Anna > Symbian Belle . About Symbian Belle - Its the most advance symbian OS { its the most stable OS } Features *Active Noise Cancellation *NFC for easy sharing and pairing *3.5" LCD Capacitive touch display and Corning® Gorilla® Glass *8 megapixel Camera with dual LED flash *720p HD video capturing *A-GPS with Nokia Maps *OTG (YES THE DEVICE SUPPORT OTG (ONLY CACH IS THAT YOU NEED TO BUY A OTG CABLE ITS NOT WITH THE PACK) ) SACHIN

27. schanmouli

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Dear people I am not a nokia Or android fan This is my opinion I want to tell Something About Nokia 1.Battery Backup 2.Best in class Is only For 25 to 40% people in world 4.Service center All Around The World 5. we can change the music Or Radio in (headset it) not in android & (it is battery eater) 6.first Of All using basic Phone was nokia 7.Virus free Phone And Then Main thing We Using Phone only. Not a Laptop or ipad For browsing in Phone. in android it self some Problem is coming and all the phone or not problem in android or symbian if u an know how to use it simple so just see the spec for Rs.16500 It was good phone pls dont blame me this is my opinion Only Thx......

28. ataur

Posts: 3; Member since: Oct 22, 2011

if Nokia 701 had the camera of Nokia N8!

29. Ravi5

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

all my friend can tell me which display is good amoled or IPS LCD i really get confused my mail id is

31. moonshot

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

I asked Nokia this and they sent this reply........ With regard to your concern, we understand that you want to know what is better the IPS-LCD with ClearBlack display on Nokia 701 or the AMOLED display on C7. Shown below are the differences. -Adding Clear Black to IPS LCD helps solve previous issues of blacks not being dark enough (well, when compared to AMOLED at least) -In general, AMOLED displays pop a little more due to higher saturation. -Viewing angles are better on AMOLED, though IPS LCD not that far off in retaining colour and brightness at extreme angles. Not that this matters much as when the screen is so small, it’s rarely positioned anywhere except directly in front of your eyes.

30. moonshot

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

I have the nokia C7 and was thinking about upgrading to the 701, but you have scored it less than the C7, even though it has all the additional features. Why? Now I'm not sure if i should go for the Sony xperia ray.

32. LordBonztie

Posts: 52; Member since: Nov 14, 2011

experience it for yourself first dude before having 2nd thoughts.

34. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Because it is PA and if they don't see high NUMBERS in specs sheet, phone is crap. Don't count on one review. Go to Nokia Care or Media Markt or whatever and check it for yourself...and read users comments.

33. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

another useless review. Two, I would say silly cons and overall rating is 7? Most android phones has worse camera and despite having flash user experience is not always awesome (it's mostly reserved for high end droids)

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

  • Display 3.5" 360 x 640 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Storage 8 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1300 mAh(6.75h 3G talk time)

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