Nokia 700 3 Stars

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We can't remember how many times we've mentioned recently that Nokia is planning to ditch its old-fashioned OS Symbian, in favour of the far preferable Windows Phone 7, and yet here we see yet aother handset running on the Finnish phone maker's own operating system. This time it's another incarnation – Symbian Belle – and while Nokia has managed to drag it screaming into the 21st century, is it really too little too late?

Hey, good looking

First things first though. Let's take a look at the phone itself. It's quite an eye-catcher, being slim, neat and pretty stylish – you'll not want to hide this little beauty away from your friends. It's really light too at 96g and it's so small (110x50.7x9.7mm) that you'll be able to squeeze it into the coins pocket on your favourite jeans.

Despite its good looks, the Nokia 700 does have a rather odd-looking step at its base. It reminds us of an unshaven 'Desperate Dan' kind of chin, with its speaker grille. It also feels like you should be abe to move up the screen to show a vertical sliding keyboard as you'd expect on the BlackBerry Torch 98120, but in fact that is not possible. Above the speaker grille you'll see a trio of keys – for Answer, Home and Bye.

On top of the phone you'll see a 3.5mm hadphone jack, alongside the micro USB port and the mains charger connector – it's a pity there is no option for USB charging. You'll find the camera and lock keys on the right side, next to the volume rocker. The only thing is they're rather small – but then that's no surprise given how small the actual handset is.

To look at, the Nokia 700 has a ring of the excellent Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray about it, however, get past the hardware and the similarities cease. While the Xperia Ray runs Android Gingerbread and so offers access to the hundreds of thousands of apps on Android Market, as well as all the other benefits of the Android OS, the 700 runs on Symbina Belle. Nokia's latest OS is greatly improved on its predecessors, but still can't measure up to Android or iOS.

The screen is pretty decent, especially considering how small the Nokia 700 is. Covering pretty much all the front of the device is the Gorilla glass screen, that measures 3.2 inches. It also offers a great resolution of 360x640 and a clear 229ppi. The touchscreen is responsive and the colours are bright. Okay, if you want to watch a full-length blockbuster a bigger screen would be nice, but we viewed some movie trailers and found them really sharp. Remember that this display is actually only 0.3 inches smaller than that found on the iPhone 4.

Homescreen boys

The new version of Symbian is simpler and faster than its predecessors – and we guess that the 1GHz chip probably has something to do with that. You can't deny that some of the bigger smarties have more punch under the hood (the Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Sensation, for instance) but it's still far better than the 600MHz chips that could be found on Nokia's last batch of Symbian phones.

Symbian is similar to Android, in that it offers six homepages that can be customised with shortcuts and widgets. Nokia Social brings all your Facebook and Twitters alerts together, and all your messages will pop up as they come in, along with emails. The notifications bar brings everything together in one simple list for easy access. As well as keeping all your messages, mails and social events organised you can access modes such as Wi-Fi and Silence using the bar.

The menu screen, in contrast, has a feel of the iPhone about it, as it has a familiar grid layout, while the Home keys move you between the homepages and menu.

Where Nokia does beat the Android handsets is with its navigation. It runs Nokia Maps, which is far surperior to Google Maps, and has really fast A-GPS. The snapper is a good five-megapixel model, which produced good images, with true colours. There's NFC, which one day will allow you to make contactless payments.

Downhill slide

So far the Nokia 700 sounds pretty good – but now we have to look at the apps offering, so prepare to be disappointed, To access the Nokia Store (which used to be called Ovi Store), you'll have to set up an Ovi account. Once you're in you'll notice there's a poor offering of apps, both in numbers and content. Plus, the apps are costlier than Android and Apple products. You'll find Facebook and Angry Birds, but for anyone who really likes their apps, this will be a deal-breaker.

Our conclusion

No one can deny that the Nokia 700 is an impressive handset – it looks good and offers decent performance. And even the OS, Symbian Belle, is starting to look like it belongs in this century. However, the disappointing app store will put off a lot of potential buyers.

Pros:
Clear display, decent net surfing, NFC offered.
Cons:
Few apps, only 2GB of storage, Symbian Belle is not comparable with iOS or Android.
Rating:
  • Look and Feel 5 Stars
  • Ease of use 4 Stars
  • Features 3 Stars
  • Performance 3 Stars
  • Battery life 3 Stars

Final verdict: 3 Stars

Review by Mobile Choice