Nokia may no longer be the leader in the high-end smartphone market, but the Finnish giant still leads the way in low priced, feature phones. Its latest is the X3 Touch and Type mobile phone, curiously combining a basic touchscreen with a regular numeric keypad; to surprisingly good effect.
Read our reviews of the Top Nokia phones.
The Nokia X3 Touch and Type is a very well designed mobile phone. It is extremely thin and light and it feels well built. Our review unit came in a bright blue colour, but white, pink and black models are also available. The Nokia X3 Touch and Type mobile phone may be playing in the budget space, but it feels anything but cheap; the combination of a quality plastic body and a brushed metal battery cover, combined with an attractive black bezel surrounding the display, as well as an excellent keypad ensures this is a very good looking mobile phone.
As its name suggests, the Nokia X3 Touch and Type uses a combination of a 2.4in resistive touch screen and a regular numeric keypad. Although it initially looks a little odd, the combination actually makes the Nokia X3 mobile phone comfortable to use and easy to navigate. The keypad is well designed and easy to type on; the keys are slightly raised, offer good tactility and travel and are comfortable to press. The strange position of the * # and 0 buttons — to the right of the keypad instead of at the bottom — is initially awkward to use, but it is an issue that can be quickly be overcome with time. The messaging and music shortcut buttons below the display are also well positioned.
Despite using a resistive touchscreen, the Nokia X3 Touch and Type's display is responsive. The addition of haptic feedback (vibration when the screen is touched) makes for a pleasant user experience, and unlike some of the previous Nokia touchscreen phones we tested, Nokia's Series 40 user interface has been tweaked to suit the screen; menu buttons are slightly larger, the text is bigger, and the whole user experience feels polished. Four boxes on the home screen can be customised to display commonly used functions, while the "Go to" menu features nine shortcut boxes that can also be customised. This effectively enables selected applications to be opened with just two touches of the screen. Other handy UI touches include a lock screen, and the ability to set an alarm simply by tapping the clock on the home screen.
There are some downsides to the Nokia X3 Touch and Type, but these are mostly minor and can be overlooked given the price. Scrolling is still inferior to most smartphones with capacitive screens, Nokia's Ovi Store lacks the range of apps found on other platforms and the included browser is clunky. The small screen means the Nokia X3 Touch and Type can't be recommended for browsing; though its unlikely anyone buying this phone will be interested in that anyway.
The Nokia X3 Touch and Type has a basic feature set. It has a 5-megapixel camera, is 3G capable, has a built-in music player and FM radio, and features Wi-Fi connectivity. A disappointing omission is GPS, meaning that Nokia's Maps application — normally providing full turn-by-turn navigation for free — is not compatible with the Nokia X3 Touch and Type. The music player is well designed, easy to use and looks superb, especially if you have album art available. The X3 also comes with Nokia Messaging, an e-mail and instant messaging client that also provides Facebook and Twitter access.
The Nokia X3 Touch and Type is not going to rival the iPhone, or any other high-end touch screen smartphone, but this is a silly comparison. If you're coming from a previous Nokia phone, or rival feature phone, and you're not looking for a high-end smartphone, the X3 Touch and Type is a perfect choice. It shouldn't pose many usability issues, is easy to use, and has a great design.
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