Nokia X7 Review

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Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T.

Introduction:


The Nokia X7 is one of the front-runners of Symbian Anna, a major overhaul bringing portrait QWERTY input, improved browser and a refreshed design to the Symbian^3 platform. But the X7 is also a media-centric device with a premium feel and a 4-inch AMOLED screen. It's also one of the latest high-end Nokia handsets running Symbian, so it deserves some special attention. But does it deserve your buck? We'll guide you through the novelties of the interface, see if that 680MHz ARM 11 processor under the hood can back up the experience, and look at the 8-megapixel fixed focus camera, but let's start with some history.

The Nokia X7 first leaked out in November 2010, but since then it's been through a bumpy ride to the market. In December, it appeared with AT&T branding and seemed set for a Stateside release, but only a month later either the carrier or the phone maker decided to cancel that partnership, so the device wouldn't appear subisdized in the States, at least initially. The Nokia X7 however was finally made official in April heralding the all-new Symbian Anna, previously known as PR 2.0.

Design:

But it's not just the new interface – the Nokia X7 is coming with a rather unique angular design with four grills on each of its corners, but only the bottom two hold speakers. A 4-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 360 x 640 pixels dominates the front. It doesn't come with Nokia's ClearBlack enhancement for nearly perfect blacks and better anti-reflection for outdoor visibility, but we found the colors to be very vivid, with blacks still very deep. Add to that Gorilla Glass scratch protection, and you're looking at a delicious screen, corrupted slightly only by the average sunlight legibility. Oh, and we do understand Nokia's wish to keep its ecosystem consistent, but that nHD 360 x 640 pixel resolution seems dated now.





You can compare the Nokia X7 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Up front, you also have the earspeaker on top and the menu key on the bottom, while on the right side there is a volume rocker and a nifty dedicated camera shutter key that will let you quickly snap photos. On the left you're in for a surprise – a lid-protected microSD card slot and a SIM card slot allow hot swap of cards. But opening them up proves to be a challenge even for the most experienced smartphone user. The engineers at Espoo have managed to come up with a unique opening mechanism – the lids actually serve as the front doors for the tiny drawers where you can put your cards. To open them, you first need to press one side of the lid and only then pull the whole drawer. After getting to grips with the mechanism, it works seamlessly, but the casual user with no manual at hand will find it unintuitive at best.


The back is where one of the most controversial elements of the Nokia X7 is – the fixed focus 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash. Fixed-focus, also known as full focus in Nokia's terms, has the advantage of keeping nearly everything in focus. At the same time it's extremely snappy as it doesn't take the time to adjust focus for each shot, but everything closer than 20 inches automatically gets blurry, so you can forget about macro shots.

The metal back cover seems very durable and adds to the premium feel of the handset, but unfortunately it's not removable. On top, there is a microUSB port for charging the device, a 3.5mm headset jack and the lock key, while the bottom is just plain.



The handset feels solid with its 5.15 ounces (146 g) of weight. It's not among the slimmest out there with girth of 0.47 inches (11.9mm) at its thickest, but its oval profile contributes to a comfortable fit in the hand. So overall, while it left us with mixed feelings, we can't deny that the materials Nokia used leave an impression of premium quality.

Nokia X7 360-degrees View:





Interface and Functionality:

The traditional Symbian^3 interface has been given an overhaul in Anna including a brand new set of icons which freshen up the platform and real-time switching between home screens, which basically means that you can gradually scroll to the next home pane with the content moving along with your finger. In previous editions of Symbian, scrolling left or right in the home screen also brought up a transitional animation, but you couldn't only gradually scroll to peek at the next screen for example without actually completing that transition.


That's just eye candy, but its not only the visuals that have been improved. Code optimization in Anna brings faster performance, along with novelties like a portrait QWERTY keyboard and an improved browser. The portrait QWERTY is simple yet convenient with the only major difference with other platforms being the positioning of the numbers which appear in three rows instead of just one upper row. To our relief, typing on the full portrait QWERTY in Anna is much faster than using the numeric keypad in previous Symbian editions, so finally, the portrait QWERTY is a welcome addition, but one long overdue.


Under the hood, the Nokia X7 runs on a 680 MHz ARM 11 processor, Broadcom BCM2727 GPU with only 256MB of RAM. This is enough for the interface to run fairly smoothly, but occasionally it stutters and you can definitely notice how that lag affects the overall performance.

The contacts and messaging applications remain similar to those in previous editions of Symbian. Quick dial works like a charm and you have a practically unlimited phone book. The calendar application has been redesigned to show a dual-pane view with the calendar of the month on the left and all your meeting on the right. You can also pinch to zoom into weekly view and double tap to go even deeper and look at your daily schedule.


So while Symbian has been given a facelift, it is still a maze at its core. The inconsistency of the platform is nothing surprisingly new, but we can't overlook the fact that often even in preinstalled programs you reach a dead end with no way to go back. We can't deny Symbian's even richer functionality with the Anna update, but when it comes at the cost of the same old constant system notifications popping up from all sides, a confusing organizational structure and some lag, the end result is largely the same – a feeling of disappointment and outdatedness.

Camera and Multimedia:

The Nokia X7 comes with an 8-megapixel fixed-focus camera with dual-LED flash. You can easily operate it with the physical shutter key on the right and if we have to sum up its performance in one word, that would be speed. The shutter button however is located on a slope on the back making it hard to reach, but once you do reach it, the camera reacts extremely quickly. That's mostly due to the fact that it doesn't take those extra fractions of a second to focus, which in turn allows you to fire the camera right away when you feel like it. But at the same time, fixed-focus means no macro shots as the sensor automatically puts everything further away then 20 inches in focus, but the rest within that range appears blurry.


Overall, however, we find the quality of the image stills on the Nokia X7 below average - decently detailed and moderately sharpened, but colors seemed washed out and in most (if not all) cases the sensor picked up side light and ended up with pale images. When it comes to the camera interface, you're treated with plenty of options including scene modes, face detection, self-timer and color tones. You can even set the white balance and ISO light sensitivity, as well as the contrast and sharpness of pictures. The X7 supports up to 2x digital zoom. Unfortunately, the handset comes with no front-facing camera.



The 680MHz processor allows recordings of up to 720p HD videos running at 25fps. The sample footage we recorded had the same issues with washed out colors as in the stills, but it's the skipped frames that bothered us more. Switching to the video recorder, you end up with a similar alas shorter set of options, but it's the quality of the footage that matters the most. If you don't set the bar too high, the Nokia X7 offers average video quality at best. But it did surprise us with the 3x digital zoom feature. When getting up close, the picture initially looks pixelized, but after a second or two it smooths out the image and makes it much more pleasant. Nicely done, Nokia!

Nokia X7 Sample Video:



Nokia X7 Indoor Sample Video:



Just like the N8, the Nokia X7 sports capable image and video editing tools. For stills, you can crop, rotate, add frames, text and some basic effects, while for videos you can stack up a couple of clips and add transitions and music for some home-baked videos.

The spacious 4-inch screen with its vivid colors is the perfect tool for watching videos. The built-in movie application plays back MPEG-4 and DivX/Xvid encoded files out of the box – pretty much everything you need. We managed to run files encoded at up to 720p smoothly. Combined with its support for microSD cards of up to 32GB (the X7 comes with an 8 gig card), the phone will easily entertain you on the go.

When it comes to audio quality, you'd be wowed with the amazing loud and clear sound of the stereo speakers located at the bottom of the Nokia X7. The music application hasn't changed much in Symbian Anna, but with album art, which you can flick through, it didn't have dire need to as it looks good visually. Along with standard file support, the handset also comes with Stereo FM radio with RDS.





Internet and Connectivity:

Browsing in Symbian was not the prettiest of experiences mostly because of the dated and cluttered browser itself. The Anna update changes that with a reworked Browser 7.3 with support for Flash, HTML5 and hardware accelaration, as well as an improved, clean user interface. Was it for the relatively modest 680MHz processor or some Flash contents on pages we visited, scrolling around in the stock browser was sometimes choppy, but still perceptively improved. Multi-touch worked well, while double tap was on the slow side.


In terms of the user interface, you only have the small back and settings buttons on the left and right side at the bottom. This frees up the screen for viewing, while at the same time tapping on the settings button brings up the numerous features of the stock Symbian browser.

Connectivity on the Nokia X7 is traditionally well-represented with pentaband 3G and quad-band GSM support. In terms of speed, you can get up to 10.2Mbps on the downlink. The phone also comes with a GPS receiver, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP and Wi-Fi b/g/n.

Software:

The Nokia X7 is the front-runner for Anna and bringing some impressive software with a new version of your platform always helps. The handset displayed its gaming affiliations from its very first appearance and it comes with two pretty popular titles preinstalled on the included 8GB microSD card - Asphalt 5 and Galaxy On Fire. Unfortunately, even those two titles didn't seem perfectly optimized as frame rates would often drop noticeably, especially in Asphalt 5.

In addition, Nokia has also stepped up its Facebook and Twitter app support through its social hub. Basically, the social application brings Facebook/Twitter updates in a unified view, but we found the whole interface of the app to be fairly laggy. The X7 ships with a limited edition of Quickoffice which allows you to view documents, but not edit them.

The 4-inch handset however is the perfect tool for watching videos, and that's why we found particularly useful the Videos and TV section which brings on demand webTV widgets spiced up with a polished interface. Included are videos from CNN and National Geographic among others. There's also a separate application for movie trailers – a great tool to explore acclaimed films. Unfortunately, at the same time, the YouTube client is disappointingly just a link to the mobile version of the website, which seems like a huge omission as that's the single most popular video service.


Free turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation with GPS and digital compass is a great asset to have. Nokia's Ovi Maps is a great tool allowing you to download local maps for free. It simply works and having that service for free on a handset remains probably one of the company's biggest advantages in comparison to other phone makers.





Performance:

The all-new Symbian Anna improves the overall performance of Nokia's platform noticeably. But even with the update, was it for the humble 680MHz CPU and only 256MB of RAM memory, or for Symbian itself, some lag was definitely noticeable. Even in the preinstalled games sometimes the screen would freeze for a fraction of a second. Web browsing has also received a boost in Anna – something you'd definitely appreciate if you're used to the standard horrendous browsing in previous Symbian editions.

The call quality is a key feature for any handset and that's why we were particularly careful when examining the audio quality on the Nokia X7. The handset comes with active noise cancellation with a dedicated microphone, which does an excellent job of bringing side noise to an absolute minimum. We were also happy with the volume on both the mic and the earpiece, but when it comes to the sound quality, we noticed an audible digitalization of voices, so our callers reported hearing our voices with unnatural tones.

Under the back cover, there is a 1300 mAh battery providing you with an above average talk time of up to 6 hours 30 minutes and 6 hours of continuous video playback at 720p (for H.264 files at 30fps). Keep in mind that the battery is not removable.

Conclusion:

The Nokia X7 brings a much anticipated overhaul of the Symbian platform, but even with Anna, Nokia's platform UI and performance seems a year or even more behind rivals like Android and iOS. The Finns also fail to deliver contemporary hardware with a sub-par 680MHz CPU and only 256MB of RAM on the Nokia X7, which seem to be the main reasons behind its sometimes slightly laggy performance. The handset ships with Nokia's EDoF camera, a fixed-focus 8-megapixel unit, that brings great speed and below average photo quality, but no macro capabilities.

At the same time, the price of this package is hard to swallow – set at the whopping $650 (460 euro) off-contract in Europe, it seems inadequate when compared to dual-core heavyweights like the LG Optimus 2X, which actually undercuts it by a hefty margin. On the positive side, the Nokia X7 is well-crafted with premium materials and unique angular design. If you feel nostalgic about the glorious past of Nokia, there's certainly something that will feed your nostalgia in the X7. But if you factor in any other sane reasons, the current dual-core offerings on the market blow the Nokia X7 out of the water easily.

Nokia X7 Video Review:





Pros

  • Good 4-inch AMOLED screen
  • Solid build, unique design
  • Free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation

Cons

  • The dated hardware slows down performance
  • Price is hard to swallow
  • Even with Anna, Symbian looks dated
  • Fixed-focus camera
  • Sub-par screen resolution

PhoneArena Rating:

5.0

User Rating:

7.0
4 Reviews

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