Nokia X7 2 Stars

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At first glance, we were pretty impressed with the X7, with its chunky metal body – it feels solid and sturdy – although its angular corners with grille trims may be a matter of taste.

There’s plenty of it, with a weight of 146g, it measures 119.7x62.8x11.9. And in the hand, its curved back makes it nice to hold. Those grilled corners are actually home to two external speakers.

That’s all very well, but the issue with Nokia’s handsets is the operating system – the Finnish handset manufacturer announced months ago that it was ditching the clunky OS in favour of Windows Phone 7, and yet it is still producing handsets – such as the X7 – with the OS onboard – albeit the latest version, called Anna. It is the dogged determination to hold on to its own OS that has seen Nokia slip in the ranks of the mobile world – being overtaken by Android and Apple.

Full metal jacket

The on/off button, headphone jack and microUSB port sit on top of the device – they’re all in the right place and easy to use. However, the positioning of the SIM and microSD slots is not so user-friendly – they are fiddly and not easy to use. For some reason, there is a mechanical holder, which you pull out before you place the cards in it. Not only is it fiddly but it also feels less than sturdy.

There are camera and volume buttons on the right side of the phone – but they are flush with the body and really hard to find just using touch. This means you’ll have to look to find the buttons when you want to fire up the snapper or alter the volume, which is a bit of a pain.

Screen star

The screen is a very large at 4 inches and does a good job, even though its resolution at 360x640 pixels is not so impressive. We enjoyed games and films with sharp graphics and good colours, although it’s not quite at iPhone 4 level. Be aware that it is a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

User un-friendly

So while the X7 offers a decent screen and good looks, we still have to encounter that clunky OS – and that’s where it all goes downhill. As well as the system itself, you are also at a disadvantage because apps come from the Ovi Store, rather than the excellent Apple App Store or Android Market. It takes an inordinate amount of time to download anything and it’s pricey to – Angry Birds is £1.50, compared with Apple’s price of 69p. We spent five minutes just downloading a small demo, so you may well quickly lose patience with downloading.

The menu key, which sits at the bottom of the screen, will take you to the screen, menu and home pages. Everything is arranged in a grid, with all your icons neatly set out. There is an apps sub folder (we’re not sure why they don’t just sit on one screen as they do in Android), which demonstrates just how clunky the Symbian operating system is.

There are three customisable home screens. They are easy to swipe between, and you can place four shortcuts and six widgets on each – although it’s a pity that it’s so fiddly to do so. Instead of just dragging them on, you have to make a shortcut within a widget. Just plain annoying.

Getting social

Nokia offers an opportunity to bring together Facebook and Twitter accounts with the Social app, but first you need to register with Ovi. Once done, it’s not a bad app, although it can’t compete with Android’s facilities. And for some reason there’s a big clock widget that is impossible to ditch.

In this latest Symbian version, the virtual QWERTY key has been improved, so that you can access it in portrait mode (finally!) – along with softer icons, a speedier web browser and better menus. But at the end of the day, the OS is so far beyond help that it doesn’t really matter what improvements Nokia makes to it.

However, looking on the bright side, there is a really decent eight-megapixel camera, which offers a dual-LED flash and the facility to record video at 720p HD. It also offers onboard software for editing your stills and movies.

On the cards

The 8GB memory card is of the microSD type, and while you can expand memory with a 32GB card, you’ll have to take out the 8GB one first. Onboard memory is measly at 256MB.

Sat-nav is excellent – the location pinpointing using A-GPS is incredibly accurate and you have the use of the excellent Ovi Maps. Getting a route was a quick process as well.

Our conclusion

The Nokia X7 has some excellent features – the sat-nav, camera and large touchscreen, for instance. But it is impossible to recommend a phone that runs on a clunky operating system, offers a disappointing app store, and costs £380.

Pros:
Huge screen; nice design, metal body; top-notch camera; excellent sat-nav.
Cons:
OS is not user-friendly; you’d expect a better-than-680MHz processor at this price.
Rating:
  • Look and Feel 4 Stars
  • Ease of use 2 Stars
  • Features 2 Stars
  • Performance 3 Stars
  • Battery life 3 Stars

Final verdict: 2 Stars

Review by Mobile Choice