Nokia has launched the X7, and we have a hands-on preview of this latest addition to the Finnish company's lineup of multimedia oriented phones.
The X7 is posed as the one that's all about 'mobile entertainment' and also runs on a new build of Symbian^3, dubbed the 'Anna' update. The device certainly radiates a much more serious, premium look than what the leaked footage was able to show, with a spacious four-inch AMOLED capacitive touch-screen. At the front, there are altogether four distinctively shaped speaker grills that give the device a semi-futuristic appeal. Sadly, the second pair of speakers around the earpiece is simply a cosmetic addition – it doesn't produce any sound.
The stainless steel battery cover naturally wraps around the back and sides of the device, leading up to the front, where durable Gorilla Glass covers the display. With this unibody design, the smartphone feels quite sleek and expensive, but it also means the battery is not user-replaceable, just like the Nokia N8 and Nokia E7.
Along with a dual LED flash, the backside of the X7 features an eight-megapixel camera sensor. The EDoF (Extended Depth of Field) camera is capable of recording HD quality videos, but due to the absence of auto-focus, it offers very inconsistent performance in pretty much every area, especially in close-up shots.
Connectivity wise, the device is on par with other top of the line smartphones, offering every data transfer option currently out there, including 3G, HSDPA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0. The X7 also has an expandable memory card slot – an 8GB MicroSD card is bundled with the device when you buy it.
What's new about the Anna update to the Symbian^3 OS isn't quite so obvious at first glance. That doesn't mean there aren't some much needed improvements in the aging operating system. The overall look has been slightly overhauled with a new set of icons, and the scrolling between the three home screens feels more natural. There's finally a portrait virtual QWERTY keyboard to improve the text input experience, and the updated web browser comes with a cleaner interface and faster page rendering speeds.
The camera UI – another area where Symbian is in a need of a makeover – didn't see a refresh in this update, however.
While still unconfirmed, it's quite possible the X7 is based on the same hardware platform as other Symbian^3 smartphones, so aside from the physical size of the screen, the performance in games should be very similar. Unfortunately, the nHD (360x640 pixels) display resolution is inadequate for screens larger than 3.5 inches and the absence of an auto-focus camera and mini-HDMI port ultimately puts the device to shame against the several months older multimedia powerhouse, the Nokia N8.
And this is where the biggest problem lies in the Nokia X7: there's little that would help it stand out from the rest of the Symbian^3 crowd. Nokia will have to set the price of the X7 carefully, if they want this smartphone to succeed.
The Nokia X7 is said to ship in Q2 this year.