Nokia’s latest touchscreen smartphone is a big sculpted piece of brushed metal with industrial detailing, topped with a pin-sharp, hi-res, contrasty screen.
Best Symbian ever
Inside it’s running Symbian, Nokia’s OS that’s soon to be phased out to be replaced by Windows Phone. Despite this being the autumn of Symbian’s life, this latest update (codenamed ‘Anna’) looks and feels better than ever on the X7. Suddenly the screen is responsive and fast (it was disappointingly laggy on the N8 and E7). You’re rarely kept waiting for the phone to catch up, whatever you’re doing – at least nothing more serious than a little sluggishness when zooming web pages.
The user interface is peppered with oblong shortcuts to every program from social networking aggregators to YouTube and the excellent Vlingo voice recognition app. All of it works more fluently, more simply and more effectively than in previous versions of Symbian. There’s also a full QWERTY keypad in portrait mode, when before it was landscape-only.
So it’s more straightforward than before still more complicated than it needs to be, and Symbian is showing its age. Nokia’s app store remains understocked, but at least there’s the excellent and free Ovi Maps and a version of Angry Birds.
Nokia’s reputation for great cameraphones won’t be damaged by the X7. Its 8MP sensor can’t match the Nokia N8, but even so pictures are detailed with pleasing colours. Most importantly there’s no shutter lag, a problem that blights almost every other smartphone camera, so you’re far more likely to capture that special moment. 720p video is similarly impressive for a phone, and with an optional cable you can hook up directly to a TV via HDMI.
But there are still too many multiple screen touches, too many circuitous paths and not enough ‘wow’ moments here. Symbian has never been better, but the smart money is on the next generation of WinNokia phones arriving later this year. If you really must have a Nokia phone now, this is a handsome, fast, powerful handset but Nokia has better treats up its sleeve.