Nokia X7-00 review: The stealth xpress

GSMArena team, 29 June 2011.
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Video player does 720p but not subtitles

The Nokia X7 comes with a capable video player - it handled all formats we threw at it (MP4, AVI, WMV, even MKV) and 720p videos were silky smooth up to and including 720p resolution.

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Nokia X7 video player

The media player app itself only works in fullscreen landscape mode but, since anything else would have made the widescreen display useless, this is understandable. In fullscreen mode, a tap on the screen shows the controls, which are otherwise hidden. The amply sized high-contrast screen with native 16:9 aspect is also more than welcome for truly enjoying your videos.

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Watching a video on the X7

Previous Symbians used to have problems with files larger than 1.5GB or so, but the Nokia X7 handled full movies with 2GB+ size without problems.

The video player lacks subtitle support however, which is something we thought Nokia fixed (they did for the Nokia N8 with an update http://blog.gsmarena.com/nokia-n8-update-brings-subtitles-to-the-video-player-doesnt-fix-all-its-problems/). You might want to look to third party apps for that or hard code the subtitles into the video if you're re-encoding the file.

The Videos section also includes several handy apps. One is a video editor that lets you create videos and video slideshows. The otherapps here include YouTube, CNN Video, E!, National Geographic, and Paramount Pictures' Movie Teasers applications. Of course, each of them requires internet connection (over 3G/3.5G or Wi-Fi) and note that not all content is free.

FM radio comes with RDS

The FM radio on Nokia X7 has the same neat and simple interface like on its Symbian^1 and ^3 predecessors. You can search skip preset and new stations alike with sweep gestures or you can use the virtual buttons.

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The FM radio app is nice to look at and easy to use

The X7 has RDS support and automatic scanning for an alternative frequency. This means that if you travel, the X7 should hopefully be able to auto-tune to your selected radio station.

RDS is the best part of X7 radio app. The radio station name gets displayed with cool effects across the whole screen, while the rest of the readings are printed in nicely legible font at the bottom.

8 megapixels of fixed-focus

The Nokia X7 is equipped with an 8 megapixel camera for a maximum image resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. Unfortunately the lack of autofocus continues an unfortunate trend from most other Symbians we’ve seen recently.

You get a dual-LED flash to go with the camera and a workable though not really the most user friendly interface.

There are only three shortcuts available in the viewfinder plus a slider for the digital zoom. The three shortcuts allow you to allow you to toggle camcorder and still camera, set the flash and access the rest of the customizable settings.

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The X7 camera user interface

We would have preferred a few more shortcuts to be available right on the viewfinder. Also, changing a setting harkens back to the days of tap to select, tap again to activate, which should have been long forgotten by now. For example, it takes you four taps to change the ISO - the first to open the settings menu, one to go into the ISO menu, one to select an ISO setting and one to activate it. Can you pick which step is one too many?

On the other hand, the functionality is mostly there. On the X7 you’re in charge of white balance, color tone, exposure, ISO, contrast and sharpness. You can also go for one of the preset scene modes and there is an option for creating a custom scene.

Face detection is also available on the Nokia X7. As for geotagging, it lets you record your current location in the EXIF information of the photos, using the built-in GPS.

The Nokia X7 is no champ when it comes to image quality, certainly not if you're going to enter it into the 8MP category. The very aggressive noise reduction smudges away most of the fine detail in the picture.

The subsequent sharpening stage introduces a lot of jaggies, which spoil the image quality further. You can reduce the Sharpness setting to low, which helped on previous models somewhat, and the jaggies will be less prominent - but still there.

Another issue we spotted is that the edges of the image are rather soft. Overall, we're seeing much of the same problems we saw on the C7, C6-01 and E7 trio - the photos are certainly usable, especially if you just want to share them on the Internet, but if you're looking to replace a point-and-shoot camera, the Nokia X7 isn't the best option.

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Nokia X7 camera samples (normal sharpness)

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Nokia X7 camera samples (sharpness set to 'soft')

However the major missing feature – autofocus – becomes apparent when you try taking a closeup shot. Anything closer than 50cm is a no-go. This can make shooting a page of text very hard - a photo of an A4 page can be made readable after some adjustments (mainly raising the contrast), but still, the text is quite smudgy. We should note that we mean human readable - OCR engines misread a large portion of the words.

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Nokia X7 is not really good at closeups

Photo quality comparison

The Nokia X7 enters our Photo Compare Tool to join the other 8MP shooters. The tool’s page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for.

The results in the synthetic benchmarks turned out surprisingly good - but that just shows that the post-processing algorithm does well in high-contrast areas (like the black lines on white background).

The white background also shows disturbing amounts of color tinting - the whole upper part of the image has a reddish tint, while the bottom is greenish. Still, the camera offers good contrast. Check out the black squares in the second chart - the top and right borders are slightly brighter or darker than the rest of the square. Some phones show those as solid color squares.

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Nokia X7 in our Photo Compare Tool

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