Nokia X7-00 review: The stealth xpress

GSMArena team, 29 June 2011.
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Messaging wiz

The Nokia X7 can easily cater for all your messaging needs. All your incoming messages arrive in a common inbox. If you like, you can also get them sorted as conversations, in threaded view.

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The Nokia X7 messaging app

The Nokia X7 relies on a shared editor for all the types of messages. Stuff like a character counter in SMS goes without saying.

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Sending Dexter a message

Insert some multimedia content the message is automatically transformed into an MMS. In that case, the character counter turns into a data counter showing kilobytes.

The Nokia X7 email client allowed us to setup our Gmail account quite easily, including syncing the account as an Exchange Active Sync one so that we'd get all our contacts. Usually, all you need is to enter a username and a password and you will be good to go in no time. The Active Sync setup required a few manual settings though and we believe Nokia should do something about it.

Multiple email accounts and various security protocols are supported, so you can bet almost any mail service will run trouble-free on your Nokia X7.

Messages can be filtered by various criteria such as date, sender, subject, priority or even by attachments, searching is available as well.

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The email client

The client can download headers only or entire messages, and can be set to automatically check mail at a given interval. A nice feature allows you to schedule sending email next time an internet connection is available. This can save you some data charges since you can use the next available WLAN connection instead.

There is also support for attachments, signatures and basically everything you would normally need on a mobile device.

Proper portrait QWERTY at long last

The keyboard is perhaps the change in touch-enabled Symbian that we've been waiting for the longest. Portrait QWERTY is finally a viable option and more importantly it works in split screen, that is the top half of the screen is left for the app, while the bottom part is for the QWERTY.

The keys on the portrait QWERTY are a bit small, despite the available screen estate. Still, you can activate word prediction, which will fix guess the word you're trying to type and show a small popup with the word you actually typed, in case you're trying to enter something like a user name (which doesn’t have to be a valid word, in fact word prediction in this case gets in the way).

This eliminates the annoying situation of taking you out of the app and into a text edit screen and then back to the app (entering URLs in the browser and using the URL autocomplete was the most painful example). Also, you don’t have to change orientations just to use the QWERTY keyboard, which was mightily annoying.

Still, it's not perfect - several apps would popup the old text edit screen, obscuring the app even though we were using the portrait QWERTY. The Ovi store app is an example of where that happens, which was a little disappointing.

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The portrait QWERTY is one of the best parts in Symbian Anna

Solid file management

Unlike some competing platforms, Symbian handsets have always enjoyed a proper file manager. The File manager on board the X7 is a capable app that can basically do anything you can think of with your files - moving, copying renaming, sorting or sending - you name it. You can also password-protect your memory card if you see fit.

You can also search for a specific file or directory. All you need to remember is a part of the desired name and where it was located (phone memory or memory card), the Nokia X7 will find it in no time.

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The file manager

With USB On-The-Go (OTG) enabled on the Nokia X7, you can also use the file manger to access USB flash drives and even other phones connected over the optional USB cable.

X7 connected to a variety of Symbian phones, an S40 phone and a whole pack of Androids. Card readers worked too, but we had issues with none SD or microSD cards (we tried CF and Memory Stick Micro, which didn’t work).

There's no USB OTG cable included in the box, so you'll have to find one on your own.

Redesigned image gallery

The image gallery app in Nokia X7 is quite the looker. It's the updated gallery from Symbian^3 PR1.2, so it's not exactly new but we're still glad to see the change. Photos are displayed in a grid (3 columns) and you can scroll up and down (with kinetic scrolling no less).

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The X7 image gallery

Once you’ve zoomed on an image, kinetic scrolling is still there but it's hard to trigger some times and that’s sure to cost the X7 a few points. On the positive side, opting between portrait and landscape mode is automatic, thanks to the built-in accelerometer.

In addition to the familiar pinch gesture you can also zoom in by double taping, the volume rocker or even the on-screen slider.

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Zooming in on a single photo

Selection of multiple photos for deleting or sharing is available straight in the gallery. Unfortunately, sharing is only available via MMS, email or Bluetooth with no image sharing service integration. We guess that can be easily fixed by installing the necessary uploading profiles for the services you’re interested in. At least that’s how it works on non-touch Symbian smartphones.

The other features of the image gallery include the image tagging system for easier image sorting, the slide show and the albums system (again helping you sort your image database).

Overall, picture browsing is relatively fast even with 8MP pics, but zooming is somewhat slow. You need to wait for a second or two every time you start zooming in on a photo.

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The gallery does basic image editing too

Symbian^3 music player on board Anna

Symbian never had trouble with the music player features but its looks were far from impressive. With Symbian^3 however Nokia introduced a new Cover Flow-like interface, which adds the much needed eye-candy. They haven't changed anything since.

There’s automatic sorting by artist, album, genre and the option to create custom playlists straight on the phone. With the huge number of supported formats, equalizer presets and effects the feature set is complete.

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The music player is unchanged since Symbian^3

Quite naturally, the player can also be minimized to play in background. In this case you can control it through the music player widget on the homescreen, which also displays the currently running track.

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Functionality is pretty solid • Cover-flow like interface in landscape mode

Audio quality worthy of the name

The Nokia X7 is an excellent performer as far as its audio output is concerned. We wouldn't have been happy with anything less considering that this is meant to be a multimedia smartphone. But the great news is that not only is the X7 one of louder handsets out there, its output is pretty clean too.

When attached to an active external amplifier (i.e. your car stereo or your home audio system) the Nokia X7 does marvelously with no weak points whatsoever.

There wasn't much quality deterioration when we plugged in headphones either. Sure, the stereo crosstalk got a bit worse and we recorded some intermodulation distortion but both of those readings are still better than average.

And here come the full results so you can see for yourselves:

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Nokia X7+0.06 -0.34-88.988.40.0058 0.016-89.1
Nokia X7 (headphones attached)+0.51 -0.18-88.688.50.022 0.370-60.2
Nokia N8+0.07 -0.33-89.990.00.0059 0.015-90.9
Nokia N8 (headphones attached)+0.50 -0.18-89.989.90.016 0.300-55.6
Nokia C7+0.06 -0.33-88.188.00.0069 0.017-88.9
Nokia C7 (headphones attached)+0.46 -0.21-88.188.10.017 0.362-66.2
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S+0.03 -0.04-90.790.60.014 0.019-90.6
Samsung I9000 Galaxy S (headphones attached)+0.40 -0.12-90.790.60.018 0.329-43.3
Apple iPhone 4+0.01, -0.07-90.190.00.00680.012-89.6
Apple iPhone 4 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.07-90.490.40.00360.092-68.4

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Nokia X7 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

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