The huge four-inch touch-screen and metal back-casing make it a striking phone to look at and it feels tough enough to survive a warzone. The angular, grilled corners are an acquired taste, though.
Not good at all, the clumsy Symbian OS has been given a spit-shine in this latest Anna version, but it's still a decaying and unintuitive experience, one so inefficient and clunky to use that even Nokia is about to ditch it for Windows Phone 7.
Impressive eight-megapixel camera, HD video recording, A-GPS gives pin-perfect location accuracy with Ovi Maps, Wi-Fi and good social networking software.
The camera is amazing, and the sat-nav is extremely impressive. It's also good for watching films, but the amount of time it takes to install apps is appalling.
Excellent, you're looking at about two days with average use of calls, Wi-Fi and Sat Nav. About twice what you'd get on an iPhone or comparable Android handset.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/24/2011 4:23:54 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
It?s a formidable looking machine with a huge screen, hard metal casing, a superb camera and unmatched sat nav features
It runs on Symbian Anna, a dying dog of an OS that?s awkward to use, and it won?t be long before Nokia ditches it in favour of Windows Phone 7. The 680MHz processor is a bit puny for this price range
It's hard to get past the feeling of absolute arrogance that resonates from any recent Nokia handset running on the firm's Symbian OS. The Finnish giant, once king of the mobile market, has shown dazzling levels of delusion, failing to see the Apple and Android juggernauts approaching from behind and dumping it in the ditch. Years of denial have seen the firm post record losses as they refused to let go of their own idiosyncratic OS - Symbian. And six months after it publicly announced it would drop the platform and adopt Windows Phone 7 for future handsets, it's surprising that the company is still releasing flagship handsets powered by this oafish OS. The latest update – arbitrarily named Anna ¬– does little to improve matters.
The X7 is physically impressive handset, a metallic monster that looks almost threatening. Turn the phone over to reveal its metallic back and it feels like Robocop is staring back at you and looking for a fight. Sizing up at 119.7x62.8x11.9 and weighing a stout 146g, it's armoured like a tank – you’d fancy its chances of surviving being dropped from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Its curved backside makes for a comfortable grip.The top of the chassis houses the microUSB port, a 3.5mm headset jack and the on/off switch, all nicely placed and straightforward enough. It's when you start to caress its sides that the experience starts to sour. The left flank holds the SIM and microSD slots, both of which are finicky and awkward to use. For some reason, both cards are held within a mechanical holder that you need to pull out to insert both cards. It's an extra layer of hassle that serves no obvious purpose, and the mechanical cradles feel like they could break apart if not handled with extreme care.On the right side you'll find the volume and camera buttons, both of which are completely flat and almost impossible to find using touch alone. You will have to look down the side of the handset to control the volume and activate the camera, a faff that could easily have been avoided if both buttons were protracted just a couple of millimetres from the chassis. The angular corners are an acquired taste, with each one adorning a grill-like trim and two housing external speakers. Presumably the other two are just there to keep the 70’s sci-fi styling symmetrical.The screen is a highly grandiose four-incher, and despite having an unimpressive 360x640 pixel display, the results were far greater than the resolution suggests. Films and games were colour-rich and looked pin-perfect sharp - not iPhone 4 gob-smacking, but impressive nonetheless. But the display is a fingerprint magnet, a veritable smudge city - this is not a phone you'd want to handle after eating a bag of crisps.
It's when you turn it on and start to use the inept Symbian OS that things start to take a turn for the worse. Remember, this is an OS that even Nokia itself is about to kick into touch now it's in cahoots with Microsoft to use Windows Phone 7. To make things worse, Symbian also works in tandem with Nokia's Ovi store - a very poor man's alternative to the vastly superior Apple and Android offerings.You get three home screens with Anna, each of which you can easily swipe between and customise into a banquet of widgets and shortcuts to suit your needs. You get six widgets per page (a total of 18), each of which can hold up to four shortcuts. One obvious pain in the backside is the inability to add apps directly onto the home screens - you have to muck about creating shortcuts within the widgets themselves, yet another layer of time wasting. You can tie your Facebook and Twitter accounts together with the Social app, but this is only after you've slogged through a tediously drawn-out Ovi registration process. Once everything's eventually up and running, it is a visually impressive arrangement - it's just nowhere near as intuitive to use as Android. Another slight annoyance is the huge, screen-wasting clock widget that is stubbornly glued in place.Hitting the pill-shaped Menu key below the screen takes you back and forth from the homepages and menu screen, which offers a more traditional grid presentation with neatly arranged icons, one of which is a sub folder for apps... why all the apps couldn't have been grouped together on one screen (à la Android) is another example of this OS creating a completely unnecessary layer, further adding to its inefficiency.Things don't improve with the online services. If you're new to Nokia, you will find the Ovi Store a dismal arena. Everything is more expensive (Angry Birds is £1.50 compared to 69p on Apple), and once downloaded apps take an age to install. Even the tiny freebie demos – once downloaded – took well over five minutes to install onto the device, which isn't much use if you just want a snappy micro-bubble of fun to kill the last five minutes of a bus journey. The entire "installation" process is a complete mystery, as it takes mere seconds on the iPhone or Android OSes.Anna does come with a couple of minor improvements over previous incarnations of Symbian – for instance, the onscreen QWERTY keyboard now switches to portrait (a flabbergasting omission from earlier Symbian versions), while the icons are softer, the menus more appealing and the house web browser is faster to use (but certainly no Safari). Yet these are minor nip and tucks to freshen up a cripplingly dated OS.
One area this handset fares well in is its media prowess. The eight-megapixel, dual-LED flash camera takes strikingly impressive stills and lets you record video in 720p HD. And there's some nifty editing software on-board so you can edit images and piece together your own little films. It also comes with an 8GB memory card, though annoyingly this is a microSD version. If you've got a 32GB card at hand you can whack that in, it's just a shame that the 8GB provided - which should have been included - will have to come out to make room. On board it packs a miniscule 256MB.As we’ve come to expect from Nokia handsets, the sat nav experience is superb, with Ovi Maps providing laser-accurate locations with A-GPS. Routes are calculated at the speed of light, and the whole navigation functionality is in a different league to anything else.
The X7 has some impressive features - a solid build, huge touch-screen and a good camera. But it's hard to recommend a £380 phone that runs on a dated OS and connects to an app store that's both overly expensive and scant on downloads.