Monday, November 21, 2011

Nokia X7 Review

The Nokia X7 first showed up in the Transformers 3 Movie to intrigue the public and it looks like it’s kinda working well for them. Read our full review of the Nokia X7 below.
The handset was announced back in April and arrived in the Philippines before the end of June (we first saw it at the Nokia Communication 2011 in Singapore on that same month).

People will always remember this as the phone that Sam Witwicky used in the 3rd installation of the Transformers Movie. As such, the X7 has that Autobot influence to it.
The X7-00 replaces the X6 in the Nokia Xseries (music and multimedia-centric handset) and among the first in its class to run on Symbian Anna.

The handset has a unique, almost polygonal design and none of the usual curved or straight corners. There are grills in each of the four corners which looks like they’re for speakers but only the one at the bottom actually have them.
The X7 has this unibody construction that’s very similar to the Nokia N8 and the Nokia E7. Pretty solid, metallic body with an integrated battery (yes, it’s not user-replaceable). The back side is curved all the way to the sides which gives it a good, cold grip when held in one hand.
Here’s a quick familiarization video so you’re more acquainted with the hardware:

The looks of the X7 is rather odd and its design is more of an acquired taste — either you’ll like it or you don’t. I initially didn’t like the way it looked from the rendered images back then but after using it and holding it, the device certainly gives a pretty good impression — brushed-metal back panel, large AMOLED display and solid metallic construction.
At 11.9mm on the side, you think it’s a little thicker than the usual smartphones but it feels very thin, thanks to that curved edges at the back (did the same wonders to the iPhone 3G years ago).

The microSD card slot and SIM card slots are all tucked on the left side. There’s a weird mechanism to open the latch for the SIM card which took me some time to figure out (it wasn’t very easy to pry open the first time around but worked well after that).

At the top end, the microUSB port and trapezoidal power button flanks the 3.5mm audio port in the center. The volume rocker is on the right side along with the dedicated camera button. The X7′s 2-tone color comes with a combination of brushed-metal and matte finish.
The problem with a fully curved back, and this is from experience, is that it’s pretty hard to use the dedicated camera button when taking photos as your finger tends to slide off in the landscape position (I find myself using the virtual shutter button instead).

Up in the front is the large 4-inch AMOLED screen protected by a Gorilla Glass display. Below that is a thin strip for the Home button. The screen resolution is 640×360 which is a little low for its size (making video playback a bit smoothed-out) but the deep, dark contrast and rich colors of the AMOLED display makes up for it.

Music playback is clear and crisp when the volume is just right but can be pretty loud at the top end. It’s also good that the speakers are up front, facing towards 4-o’clock and 8-o’clock angle, instead of the back or bottom where they usually place it in other handsets.
The X7 also sports a dedicated graphics processor with OpenGL 2.0 (for 3D graphics) so gaming on the device is pretty good. They got Alphalt 5 and Galaxy on Fire (which maximizes the use of the touchscreen and the accelerometer) pre-installed in my unit but you can download more games from the Ovi Store anytime. I would say gaming experience is pretty close to that of the iPod Touch.

Like the Nokia E6, the Nokia X7 also comes with the latest Symbian Anna OS. It has three scrollable homescreens you can customize with a number of live widgets, icons and other shortcuts. Symbian Anna is more fluid, organized and functional although the home-screen scrolling is still jerky and not very smooth as we saw in the video earlier.
The built-in browser is fast and renders pages quite well. Doesn’t seem to load some Javascripts though and there’s a still some usability issues in there (like URL input and page scrolling). In fairness, Flash loads pretty well as well as Youtube with it’s HTML5 video player.

Like the Nokia N8, we were expecting the camera to perform really well — both in stills and video. It actually did not disappoint. Photos are clear, fairly crisp and well saturated. It can even handle low-light conditions just fine. The shutter isn’t as fast as the N8 but it’s good enough for most still shots.
Here are sample photos taken at default settings.

Video recording at 720p (@ 25fps) is also very good although in some clips you will notice a little smoothing of the images. It’s got 3x digital zoom for video and 2x for photo. The rear camera also has a dedicated microphone so you will notice that the captured sound is also pretty clear.
Here are some clips we took using the 8MP camera:
Note: Some footages were taken at 480p while others are in 720p in this collection of clips.
Nokia did a pretty good job on this one even if it’s not as great as the Nokia N8. My issue is with that camera button that’s pretty hard to use. The other one would be the fixed focus on the lens — no luck at close up shots on this one.

The virtual keyboard on the X7 is pretty decent — the keys are a little cramped in portrait mode but very good in landscape. You also get some sort of haptic feedback when typing the screen so that’s a plus on usability. If you have a hard time using the qwerty layout in portrait, you can always switch to the more familiar alpha-numeric layout.
The device also features Bluetooth 3.0 but transfer speed over to my Macbook Air (which has Bluetooth 4.0) only peaked at around 115KB/s. I believe this one does not have the “+ HS” feature in it.
Nokia X7-00 specs:
4-inch AMOLED screen @ 360×640 pixels
Gorilla Glass Display
680MHz ARM 11 processor
Broadcom BCM2727 GPU
up to 32GB via microSD
HSDPA 10.2 Mbps, HSUPA 2 Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0 w/ A2DP
8MP fixed-focus camera with dual LED flash
FM Radio tuner
GPS w/ aGPS support
Li-Ion battery 1200mAh
With normal day to day use, we were able to squeeze up to 3 days on the Nokia X7 and can still do up to 4 if you turn off 3G and WiFi. In any case, Nokia really knows how to optimize battery life with their handsets.

The Nokia X7 came out late June with a suggested retail price of Php21,275 but it has since gone down to the Php19k range in some stores. The package comes with a USB On-the-Go cable, a microUSB charger and a really nice in-ear earphones.
It’s actually in the same price range as the year-old Nokia N8 so I have this feeling people might still prefer the N8 over it — unless of course you’re after the multimedia features (which isn’t any much different either). Nevertheless, people will look back at this and remember it as the Transformer phone.

Credits to YugaTech

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