February 22, 2013

NOKIA X3 TOUCH AND TYPE REVIEW

Nokia might be selling a lot of smartphones but their primary product continues to be the cheaper Series 40 phones. But despite that Nokia never thought of bringing S40 up to speed compared to its rivals. All that Nokia would do with every new update is give a small visual update that would make it visually similar to Nokia's S60 operating system, but nowhere close in terms of functionality.

Series 40 6th Edition is not far too different. What they have done is added a touchscreen layer on top, which makes it a bit more relevant in today's mobile world where not having a touchscreen seems like a serious flaw in the spec sheet. This does change a few things though and the resultant phone, the Nokia X3 Touch and Type or simply the X3-02 is unlike any S40 phone that came before. We decided to find out how much of a difference does having a touchscreen on an S40 phone make. 

Nokia X3 Touch and Type


Bundle

  • Nokia X3-02
  • Nokia Battery BL-4S
  • Nokia Compact Charger AC-8
  • Nokia Stereo Headset WH-102
  • Nokia Connectivity Cable CA-101D
  • User guide
  • Design and Build
  •  The X3-02 is one of the most attractive phones Nokia has ever made. We are glad that they are getting slowly back to making attractive phones, a knack they had lost a while back. The X3-02 is extraordinarily thin and light and feels more like a remote control than a mobile phone. Slip it into your pocket and you'll probably forget that it's there. The build quality is superb too, an area where Nokia rarely falters. The phone feels solid in your hand as it is one single slab of aluminum and every part feels tightly put together.


    Along the clean, minimalistic front, you'll find the face split between a sizable touchscreen display and the large keypad. You'll find the thin earpiece above the display and if you look closely, the proximity sensor near the top left edge. There is no ambient light sensor or video call camera here though. Below is the keypad , which has a rather unusual layout, but more on that later. The bottom edge slopes down to meet the base and there you will see the phone's single loudspeaker. The microphone, in case you are wondering, is placed in the keypad, between the '9' and '0' keys. 

    Nokia X3 Touch and Type right


    On the right side of the phone are the volume control keys and the phone lock button. These keys are rather thin and flat, which makes them tricky to operate. Being a music phone, we expected the volume keys to be given a bit more prominence by the design team. Below, what might seem like a camera shutter button, is actually the release button for the battery door. A similar button is found on the left side of the device, which also happens to be the only thing that is there. 

    Nokia X3 Touch and Type Top


    On top of the phone is the charger port, micro USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack. The micro USB port is squarish, so it can accept similarly shaped cables sold by Nokia with phones like the N8 and E7 that have the USB On-the-Go feature. However, we doubt the X3-02 supports this feature. 

    Nokia X3 Touch and Type rear


    On the back is the 5 megapixel camera lens but with no flash for company. The microSD card slot is under the battery cover and is hot swappable. 

    The phone is sold in Petrol Blue, White Silver and Dark Metal (pictured here).
  • Display and Keypad

    Now let's get to the Touch and Type part of the phone, starting with the display. The display on the X3-02 is a 2.4-inch, 240 x 320 resolution, 262k color, resistive touchscreen. As far as the image quality is concerned, the display is mediocre. It looks dull and the viewing angles are quite horrid. The display washes out a bit under the sun but remains visible. The touch response of the display is good though, as good as resistive screen technology can allow it to go. Nokia has also added an excellent haptic feedback, which is so incredibly precise that it gives the impression of pressing a button when you are just touching the screen.


    The keypad on the X3-02 is really nice and large. The keys have a really good response and are a pleasure to operate. What spoils the fun somewhat is the layout, which is quite unconventional. The last row of keys has been turned upright and placed on the right of the number keys. Those used to using standard phone keypads, which includes all of us, will take some getting used to this new arrangement.

    The keypad also has couple of shortcut buttons. The messaging key gives you the option to create a new message or visit your inbox when pressed. The music keys simply bring forth the playback controls instead of launching the music player.


    Software

    The Nokia X3-02 runs on Nokia's Series 40 6th Edition operating system. The major changes between this and 5th Edition is that it has been altered to run on touchscreen devices. As with Series 60 5th Edition, Nokia has taken minimal efforts, simply making everything larger so it can be operated by thumb. This was fine on S60 devices that had bigger displays but on the 2.4-inch display of the X3-02 everything looks a bit too large. But this only applies to items that are meant to be touched, so text in messages, for example, will appear of normal size.

    Thankfully there is none of that single tap-double tap nonsense found in S60 5th Edition phones. Everything can be accessed by a single click. If you need additional options, press the Options key or press and hold on that item for additional options to appear.

    The homescreen is customizable. You have four panels on the screen and you can choose from a bunch of options to add there. Unlike Symbian ^3, however, there is just one homescreen, so you have limited customization option. But there is the Go to function assigned to the left soft key, which you can fill with options that could not go on the homescreen.

    The OS supports J2ME apps, of course. Nokia has provided some on the phone and you can download more from the Ovi Store or from other sources, such as GetJar. The latter would be a better option as Ovi Store currently has a very limited range of applications available.

    We were surprised to see a complete lack of social networking apps on the X3-02. Nokia's other recent phone, even Series 40 phones, have some sort of Facebook or Twitter application on board. It's disappointing that Nokia did not see it fit to include them on a phone targeted mostly at the younger audience.

    There is a mail client and a IM application built-in that support all the popular services and allow you to quickly select a service and enter your account information.

    The web browser on the X3-02 is pretty disappointing. It is the same old browser that S40 phones have been sporting for a long time now. The page loading is a bit slow, the rendering isn't particularly accurate and it runs out of memory as soon as you start browsing heavy websites. It's best for browsing mobile optimized web sites. We wonder what happened to the WebKit browser that debuted on the 6700 Classic but was never seen after that.

    The UI is smooth most of the time. Occasionally it does bog down a bit but this is infrequent enough to not be a major concern.
     




    Connectivity

    The Nokia X3-02 is a GS quad band 3G HSPA handset. It supports HSDPA 10.2 Mbps, HSUPA 2 Mbps, EDGE Class 10, GPRS Class 10, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1. We were surprised by the inclusion of the Wi-Fi in this phone but since the web browser is not up to the mark it feels slightly wasted. The HSPA connectivity could have also been made better use of had there been video calling functionality in the phone. There is also no GPS in the X3-02.


    Multimedia
    The Nokia X3-02 has a 5 megapixel fixed focus camera. The camera quality is not as good as one might expect from a 5 megapixel sensor. The images are noisy and a bit cold. There is also an excess of sharpening, which was completely unnecessary. Low light images are poorer in quality and there is no flash as well. The camera also records VGA resolution videos at 15 fps of mediocre quality.

    The X3-02 is a music phone, so audio quality matters. As expected, the phone does sound good through the headphones and the phone comes with a decent pair in the package. It's shocking though that there was no memory card bundled with the phone, which is not what we expect from a music phone. Thankfully the loudspeaker on the phone was exceptionally powerful and of good quality, something you would expect on a music phone.

    The image viewer was standard fair. There is no pinch to zoom and all that fancy stuff that we now expect from every touchscreen phone, but it is decent. There is also a basic editor for cropping images or adding effects.

    The video player was a bit of a surprise. It is virtually identical to the player on other S40 phones except for the fact that it supports Xvid codec. We tried a few clips and they worked well as long as the files were under 480p resolution. Still, the display was a bit too small for watching movies, but a TV show episode can be watched comfortably on it. 
    Battery Life
    With little in terms of features to put strain on the battery, the X3-02 happily managed to run for two days on a single charge with 3G enabled, that too just on an 860 mAh Li-Ion battery. We are not used to phones lasting this long and started wondering whether the battery meter is faulty. 




    Verdict

    Nokia X3 Touch and Type

    The Nokia X3 Touch and Type is priced at Rs. 8,109. What we liked about the phone most was the design and the fact that it is a simple, easy to use phone. But now that we think about it, it's a bit too simple for our taste. We have come to expect a lot more in terms of features and functionality at that price. But perhaps there will be some who won't mind paying that amount for something that is easy to use and carry around. And of course, those who don't buy anything other than Nokia. Yes, we have those in India. 

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