Nokia X3 Review

Abdullah Saad
Posted Feb 27, 2010
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The latest breed of Nokia phones belonged to the powerful XpressMusic series. Nokia has made a bold move and has introduced a new X-Series and the opening chapter is called the Nokia X3. There is a bigger beast lurking in the dark as well called the Nokia X6 but the X3 is the affordable-level X-Series phone. So far, there are two phones in the X-Series: X3 and X6. X6 is a touch phone running Symbian while the X3 is a Series 40 slider. Now, Series 40 might be a huge letdown but do not lose hope just yet! This Series 40 sixth edition is very different from other Series 40 sixth editions.

Nokia X3

The X3 comes packed with surprises, both good and bad!

Key features:

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • 2.2″ 262K color QVGA display
  • 3.2 megapixel fixed focus camera
  • S40 user interface, 6th edition; rudimentary multitasking
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS; Built-in antenna (so it plays on the loudspeakers even if you don’t plug the headset)
  • Stereo speakers
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Up to 26 hours of music playback
  • Bluetooth (with A2DP) and microUSB port
  • microSD card slot (16 GB supported, 2GB included)
  • Rich preinstalled application package
  • Ovi Store, Ovi Maps and Ovi Share

Main disadvantages:

  • No 3G connectivity
  • Smallish display with poor viewing angles and sunlight legibility
  • Slider action has an unpleasant plastic-on-plastic friction
  • No accelerometer for screen auto rotation
  • S40 interface feels clunky and out of date
  • No true multitasking
  • No smart dialing or an office document viewer
  • A bunch of software bugs
  • Video recording maxes out at QCIF@15fps

Package

I found the box and the opening satisfying. Remember, this is the affordable class cell phone so do not expect extras. Here is what was inside the packing:

Packed

Unpacked

Included:

  • Nokia X3
  • Nokia Battery (BL-4CT)
  • Nokia High Efficiency Charger (AC-8)
  • Nokia Headset (WH-205)
  • Nokia 2 GB microSD card (MU-37)
  • Nokia Connectivity Cable (CA-101D)
  • User guide

Design

Dimensions of Nokia X3 are 96 x 49.3 x 14.1 mm having volume of 65.8 cc and weighing at 103 g. At first glance, the phone is straight lines and no curves in sight. This is a very different style for a Nokia phone.

Examining the front face of this slider, there are two colored stripes on both sides of the face. The left strip has three dedicated music keys. On the top side, there is an earpiece and below the display are the S40 standard D-pad, surrounded by the soft and call keys.

Nokia X3

The Nokia X3 is equipped with a 2.2” screen and it is a very disappointing performer. Bad colors, poor visibility, unreadable in sunlight, unreadable from angles, and lack of brightness/contrast settings make this a very bad screen.

Being a slider phone, the sliding mechanism is another major disappointment here. There is a gap between the two sliding surfaces yet the plastic grinds, as the mechanism is two-springs supported.

Moving towards the top side of Nokia X3, we find the microUSB data port, the 3.5mm audio jack, and the standard Nokia charger port.

Nokia X3 - Top

The left side has the microSD card slot and the right side has the volume rocker and camera keys.

Nokia X3 - Left

Nokia X3 - Right

The back is made of soft matte plastic and is fingerprint-immune. The glass covering the camera lens is exposed at all times, so you have to handle the phone with care or risk scratching it.

Nokia X3 - Back

With the back open, you will find the 860 mAh (BL-4CT) Li-Ion battery and the SIM compartment.

Nokia X3 - Back Open

The X3 does look like a profesional and bold cellphone from far but has it’s design flaws.

Nokia X3

User Interface

The S40 on X3 is overhauled and packs quite a few surprises! Cell phones of even lower-tech from the likes of Sony Ericsson, LG, and Samsung features OS with multitasking support and S40 lacks it.

A hint of multitasking can be seen in the X3’s S40! Soon after, you will realize that even that is fake multitasking. If you open too many internet connection dependent applications, you will get a message about too many apps running and that you need to close at least one of them. A task manager like popup arrives but only lets you end a highlighted application.

The home screen is a combination of five bands. The top band is the usual indication area for network, battery, and time, etc. the next band is the shortcut bar that can be customized. Next is the Radio and media player bar. After that is the Ovi Contacts bar and lastly the Ovi Store bar. The menu is very S60 like and has the same four different views: List, Grid without labels, Grid with labels, and Tabbed.

The Ovi Contacts is not a phonebook application. It is actually a very good IM client and is integrated tightly with the Nokia X3 phonebook. Thanks to this service, you will be able to chat in real time with all your Ovi/Google Talk-connected contacts, change your status messages and mood, and all that kind of social networking stuff. Like Live Messenger, you can even share the song you are listening to as your status.

Ovi Contacts is a great application is it is not a native one either; it is a Java application and since there is no multitasking here, you cannot interact with the rest of the phone unless you quit and that just kills the whole idea. Therefore, the third major disappointment is the lack of multitasking on this phone.

The telephone part of X3 is nice. No distortions while receiving or calling. There is no smart dialer here so you cannot type a contact name and the hope that the phone will shortlist.

Loudspeaker on the Nokia X3 is a Below Average performer. In a very low noisy environments like a busy office, you will miss calls however if the X3 is in your pocket with vibration ON, you will realize just how strong the vibration is.

The X3 is a master when it comes to SMS, MMS, Audio Message, and Email. SMS and MMS go hand-in-hand, as their editor is same. SMS have Conversation view ON by default. Email setup is a snap and SSL is supported so Gmail is not an issue for S40 now.

Gallery has been renovated as well here and upon entering, you are presented with three options: Photos, Music and videos, and “All content”. “All content” is your good old file manager with all the required copy, move, paste, rename, and delete operations.

Select Music and videos and you are taken straight to the Media player in Library view and similarly, choosing Photos will bring fourth a very new picture gallery. You can view images as thumbnails, albums, or timeline. Opening a photo from a thumbnail is done with a smooth zooming transition. Zooming and panning are now seamless, smooth, and fast.

The Radio and Music player are both winners on the X3. The video player of Nokia X3 is compatible with 3GP, MP4 and WMV formats. You cannot play DivX. Camera aboard the X3 is a very simple and slow add-on. It is just “what you get for the price”.

Camera Testing #1

Camera Testing #2

Camera Testing #3

Camera Testing #4

Camera Testing #5

Final words

X3 may find itself hard to be sold. I know I will skip it and wait for the X6 or even the X10. Now, Nokia’s own 6303 come as a good challenger and had it not been for the single speaker, 6303 would have been a clear winner. There are nice features such as active standby, threaded messaging, Ovi Contacts, Maps for S40, the new image gallery and the Ovi Store, music player, and FM radio. However, the Screen, the slider, the not-so-loud loudspeaker and lack of multitasking is just unforgivable.

Apart from the lack of multitasking that other manufactures have been providing in the same category, the software portion of X3 is broken. Applications such as Flickr, Ovi Share, and the web browser are all bad. Flickr and Ovi Share do not work at all and the browser crashes often. Other software like Windows Live Messenger also crash from time to time. These applications are the highlight of X3 and they fail and so does the X3.

The X3 is called a Music Phone and the improved S40 does make it act like one; leave apart the lame loudspeaker. Nokia X3 is selling for around 13,000 PKR+, which is unjustified as well.

Far better options are the Nokia 6303, Nokia 5230, Nokia 5235, or Nokia 5630

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