Nokia X3 Touch and Type
Review If you think candybar handsets should have touchscreens then Touch and Type should be right up your street. This is Nokia's attempt to breathe new life into the
rusty trusty S40 platform by adapting it for a touchscreen interface. The first two T&T handsets to be released in the UK are the X3-02 and C3-01 and it's the former I have on my desk at the moment.
Touching thought: Nokia's X3-02
Nokia's handset design has been on an upswing of late and the X3-02 continues the trend. It's thin, light, well made and very solid. It's smart and stylish too, though Nokia's talk of the screen looking like still water, with the keypad below resembling rippling waves, rather lost me.
Unusually the keypad is laid out as a 4 x 4 rather than 4 x 3 grid. Two of the extra keys go for a Burton because they act as rather small call keys, but the remaining two provide handy direct access to the music player and the messaging application.
The design orphans the zero key at bottom right, but I didn't find that a problem, as I was rather impressed by the keypad's quality and ease of use. Conspicuous by its absence is any sort of navigation pad – if you want to select something, you have to tap the resistive touch screen.
The 4 x 4 keypad layout crams in extra keys
Resistive it may be but it's a fine example of the breed. Swipes, taps and long presses all work perfectly and the UI is fluid and responsive, with only some occasional stutter in the kinetic scrolling of the contacts list to mar proceedings. The haptic feedback is nicely calibrated too, but as I dislike haptic feedback of any sort, a quick rummage in the settings was in order to turn it off.
Chewing it over
The UI has clearly had some thought put into it. Large context-dependent soft keys live at the bottom of each screen to let you access the associated menus and options. There’s also a 'Go To' soft key that launches a 3 x 3 grid that you can populate with shortcut icons to any application or function.
Choose your flavours
All the virtual buttons and icons are well sized for such a small screen and the tap-to-zoom feature works a treat with the bundled Opera Mini browser. Thankfully, Nokia has resisted the temptation to try to make the X3 a pseudo-smartphone, so there is no virtual keyboard.
As you might expect there is some doubling-up of command functions, for instance, to open up the symbols menu when writing messages, you can either tap the screen or use the +* key, whichever takes your fancy. Choices aside, having the touchscreen makes the X3 very easy and intuitive to use.
The X3 has a very impressive speaker built into the base of the handset and a crisp, colourful screen. Music fans will appreciate the dedicated music player key, the 3.5mm audio jack and the side-mounted volume controls, while those who just want to make a phone call will appreciate the excellent signal reception and call quality.
Sound reproduction for music can only be described as adequate for an X-branded handset, though much of this is down to the low-rent bundled headset. Still, the addition of native support for Xvid files is a definite plus. The X3 played every .AVI video I tried, as long as it was below 700MB in size and 640 x 360 in resolution.
Under the skin, the X3 Touch and Type is reasonably well specified with 802.11n Wi-Fi, 10.2Mbps HSDPA, a USB-On-The-Go facility that lets you access the content of USB flash drives and a decent 5MP camera, albeit fixed focus. The only obvious omissions are GPS and Ovi Maps. As for battery life, I managed to get three days of heavy use out of a full charge while hooked up to a 3G network and using the Wi-Fi radio regularly.
If I had to pick holes it would be the absence of an external camera button, what you can see on the right of the handset below the volume rocker is a lock key. Also, it lacks an accelerometer or indeed any facility to flip the screen into landscape when not playing video. Ovi Store apps like eBuddy can also be a challenge to set up using the touchscreen without a stylus.
Brings candybar die-hards into the next decade
Adding a touchscreen to S40 could have ended up as an unholy dog's dinner but it hasn't. Rather, Nokia has delivered a system of control that makes other candybar mobile phones feel rather dated. ®