Nokia 701 review: Belles and whistles
Unboxing the Nokia 701
The Nokia 701 comes with a charger, which ends on a 2mm plug. The 701 can be charged off microUSB, so we don't know why Nokia used an old-school charger - microUSB chargers have the advantage of being compatible with other gadgets too.
The box also includes a microUSB cable and a one piece headset. There's no microSD card, but the Nokia 701 comes with 8GB of built-in storage.
Nokia 701 360-degree spin
The exact measurements of the Nokia 701 are 117.2 x 56.8 x 11 mm (64cc) and 131 grams.
Design and construction
Okay, so the Nokia 701 won't win any awards for original design, but the iPhone went three generations without fear of becoming boring. The rounded corners give the Nokia 701 a pleasant look and the sturdy shell made mostly of metal oozes quality.
The screen merits a chapter of its own, so let's get the rest of the hardware out of the way.
Above the display is the earpiece with proximity and ambient light sensors and a VGA video-call camera keeping it company. Below the display are the main controls: a Menu key set between the two call keys. The flat-panel call keys are the right size and have solid press. The Menu button is set between the screen and the call keys, flush with the surrounding surface, which makes it a bit uncomfortable to hit.
Another design flaw we found here is that it's too close to the screen and sometimes you'd press both the key and the screen. The Menu key on the C7 was placed slightly lower and the problem was avoided. Nokia's decision to move it doesn’t seem a good idea.
The mic pinhole is located right below the menu key.
The top side of the Nokia 701 features the power key, which also handles screen lock, power-saving mode and the ringing profiles. The two wired connectivity ports are here too. The microUSB has a plastic flap and a tiny status LED, and can be used for charging. The 3.5mm audio jack doubles as a TV-Out port.
The left side of the 701 would have been completely bare if it wasn’t for the 2mm charger plug. The right side is much busier – the volume keys flank the voice command key, and further down we find the screen-lock slider and the shutter key. It cannot be half-pressed as the camera on the Nokia 701 lacks auto-focus.
The shutter key is small and almost flush against the side of the phone, making it rather uncomfortable to press. This might result in some extra camera shake – you might want to use the on-screen shutter to prevent that.
The Nokia 701’s bottom side features just the lanyard eyelet.
On the back we find the camera lens, dual LED flash and loudspeaker banded together on a silver strip. The phone rests down on the camera, perhaps making the lens prone to scratches.
By the way, if you want to use the dual LED as a flashlight, you can pull and hold the lock slider to activate it and again to turn it off. This works even if the phone is locked (it will remain locked after flashlight mode is enabled).
Even though there are two symmetrical grills, only one of them (the one next to the lens) is an actual loudspeaker – the other one is there just for the sake of symmetry we guess.
The back cover is made of metal and it’s pleasant to the touch. It’s held in place by a latch found at the bottom. Adjacent to the latch is the second microphone, which is used for noise cancellation and stereo sound for videos - you should be careful not to cover it with your palm.
Popping the cover open reveals the 1300mAh Li-Ion battery (BL-5K). The 701 boasts some impressive battery life on paper - 17 hours of talk time in 2G (only about 7 hours in 3G), 21 or 23 days of standby in 2G and 3G respectively.
It doesn’t end there - Nokia's official specs promise nearly 9 hours of video watching, 6 hours 25 minutes of video recording (if you have the storage for it), almost 3 hours of video calling, 11 hours of navigation (free navigation courtesy of Nokia Maps) and the really impressive 3 days of music playback.
The Nokia 701 has the same problem as the C7 - the SIM card compartment is easily accessible once you pop open the back cover but you can’t say the same thing about the microSD card slot, which is hidden under the battery itself.
With the 701 you get typically good Nokia build quality and the mostly metal shell really gives it a sense of solidity. The scratch-resistant glass and metal finish offer good durability.
We played with the Silver Light color version and it's quite a looker. It's not the most compact phone around, but the elongated shape of the Nokia 701 makes it fit just right in the hand and it should slip into pretty much any pocket with ease.
Ultra-bright IPS-LCD ClearBlack display
Most of the front of the Nokia 701 is taken by the next-generation ClearBlack display, a 3.5” IPS-LCD display of nHD resolution.
It's the brightest display we've seen, not counting the Nokia E6 (which was much smaller), and by quite a margin too.
Something must've happened between our preview of a pre-production unit and this here review. Today we've got a retail-ready unit now and the blacks aren't as deep as they used to be, which in turn spoils the contrast. It’s still pretty good, neighboring to what a typical high-end phone is showing, but not as awesome as the screen on the first unit we tested. So here are the numbers themselves. You can learn more about the test here.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|LG Optimus Black P970||0.27||332||1228||0.65||749||1161|
|Motorola Atrix 4G||0.48||314||652||0.60||598||991|
|Apple iPhone 4||0.14||189||1341||0.39||483||1242|
|Samsung I9000 Galaxy S||0||263||∞||0||395||∞|
|Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc||0.03||34||1078||0.33||394||1207|
|Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II||0||231||∞||0||362||∞|
|Nokia 701 (old)||0.44||791||1818||0.72||1061||1470|
On the upside, the screen brightness helps achieve excellent sunlight legibility, beating the likes of the SuperAMOLED Plus and the first-gen ClearBlack displays.
The IPS technology promises 160-degree viewing angles and for the most part delivers. There's a slight but noticeable loss of contrast when you tilt the phone, but there's no color shift.
The pixel count of Nokia 701's screen is just 60% of WVGA screens (common in high-end phones), but as this is a smaller screen the pixel density is virtually identical to that of the Galaxy S II, for example (210 ppi for the 701 vs. 217 ppi for the S II).
The sharpness is okay but you can notice jaggies on circles (or just rounded corners like the menu icons) and diagonal lines.
The Nokia 701 screen sensitivity is as good as we’ve come to expect from capacitive units. The excellent haptic feedback is a boost to usability.