Nokia X3 in-depth review -

Look and feel

The X3 has a suitably refreshed, modern design, with a solid build and smooth slider mechanism. On either side of its 2.2-inch, 320x240 pixel screen are two thin red strips, and the brushed metal keypad is stylish and tactile.

Ease of use

The user interface is customisable and the email features are robust and easy to get to grips with. The X3 also offers some handy short cuts, and Nokia’s handsets are traditionally user friendly.

Features

The music capabilities of this phone are pretty good, as long as you’re no music guru. Kit the X3 out with apps from the Ovi Store to add to the feature set.

Performance

Edge data speeds meant that browsing was quite slow with pages taking a while to load, though it was fine for emailing and Instant Messenger. The sound quality is perhaps lacking, and it’s no iPod replacement.

Battery life

Considering this is meant to be a dedicated music device, the battery life was a little disappointing.

 Nokia X3 Review -
3

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/13/2010 10:19:01 AM

6

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

4

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Can download more apps at Ovi Store, bundled in-ear headphones, includes one year subscription to Comes With Music, home screen customisable with widgets and notifications

Cons:

No 3G or Wi-Fi, audio quality lacks richness, small selection of apps at Ovi

All phones have music players now. So what makes a brand stand out? Well, on paper, the X3 manages it – one year subscription to Comes With Music, 3.5mm audio jack, bundled in-ear headphones, and dedicated music controls. It also happens to be Nokia’s first standard phone that can access its download portal, Ovi Store. But is this enough to keep it from being just another phone?

Slider city

The X3 is the second in Nokia’s relaunched ‘X’ music phone range, and has a suitably refreshed, modern design, with a solid build and smooth slider mechanism. On either side of its 2.2-inch, 320x240 pixel screen are two thin red strips, one of which houses the media player controls. The brushed metal keypad is stylish and tactile, while a volume control strip sits discreetly on the side, along with a camera shutter release that also doubles as the camera launcher.


The 3.2-megapixel snapper isn’t one of Nokia’s best efforts, and even pictures in daylight came out slightly soft. No flash or night mode, so lowlight shots come out quite dark, and as usual, the option to ‘upload to web’ really just means putting the photo on Ovi.com rather than Facebook or Flickr (even though the latter is preloaded).


The charger port sits at the top of the device, next to the 3.5mm audio jack. Nokia has also bundled a pair of in-ear headphones, which are pretty comfortable. A remote control lets you choose tracks and play/pause, though unfortunately you can’t adjust the volume from here.

Shortcuts n stuff

Interestingly, you can choose between two user interfaces – the standard wallpaper, or a smartphone-esque home screen. You can really personalise your phone here – there’s a customisable shortcut bar, and three other customisable slots for ‘live’ programs such as the music player, calendar or even a dedicated notifications bar.


The email interface is similarly quick to navigate, with shortcuts on the number keys to reply, compose or save a contact. You can add a few different webmail accounts, though there’s no support for Microsoft Exchange. In fact, the email app is little more than a portal to webmail, as we never received notifications of new email.


But that’s probably down to the market for this phone, as instead, there’s a preloaded Windows Live Messenger app that can run in the background with a live slot on the home screen notifying you of new messages. Once you’ve signed into Messenger, your contact books will have an extra tab for your Messenger contacts. Text messages are also viewable in threaded form.

Play me a tune

The music player is standard Nokia and organises your music by artist, song, album and genre, and we love the music controls on the side, which are easy to manipulate even in the dark confines of a pocket. The audio quality here is decent but not ideal for music with heavy bass. The trebles were fine, but though the low notes in tracks were listenable, they lacked fullness. If you’re a casual listener, it’ll do you fine; and if you’re any kind of music pro, you’re obviously looking elsewhere already. The X3 also comes with a 2GB microSD memory card (that’s around 500 tunes), but if you’re serious about using this as a music phone, you’ll want more storage.

 

The one year subscription to Comes With Music, Nokia’s all you can download music service, could be a draw, but we’d suggest you check out the available songs before assuming it’s one of your must-have features.

Download what?

The preloaded browser is the excellent Opera Mini, which resizes websites perfectly so that you can read the main text without having to scroll left and right.

 

Unfortunately, despite being billed as the first Symbian S40 phone with access to Ovi Store, the X3 is neither 3G nor Wi-Fi enabled, so you’ll be dependent on slower EDGE internet speeds. It’s not a problem for email and IM’s, but some webpages, even mobile-optimised versions, loaded slowly.


We were able to download a 304KB app in around two minutes, but depending on your operator’s network, download speeds could seriously lag, and without being able to log onto a free Wi-Fi network, data charges could add up.


Ovi Store is nowhere near Apple’s App Store or even the Android Market in range or quality, but there are a few useful apps like Snaptu, which makes up for the lack of a Facebook app by providing a landing page for several social networks, news sites and blogs. Of course, almost any Java phone can access app sites like GetJar, but we suppose this is a little easier.


Despite the lack of internet features, the battery was pretty short-lived. After downloading a couple of apps, checking our email a few times along with some general usage, the phone barely lasted the day.

Conclusion

Considering its price, this is a decent little music phone for the casual listener. The lack of 3G is a turn-off though, and while we appreciate the access to Ovi Store, the paucity of good Ovi apps doesn’t exactly make this a must-have feature. The X3 is a great buy if you’re after a phone that can churn out some tunes for a low price, but less so if you’re looking for an iPod replacement.

 

Natasha Stokes

natasha.stokes@nhmedia.co.uk