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Nokia X7 and Symbian Anna

While we wait for the first Nokia handsets running Windows Phone later this year, Nokia has two other operating systems on the go. Meego, an OS co-developed by Nokia and Intel, has made an appearance on the N9 while Anna, a revamped version of Symbian^3 for touchscreen devices, has debuted on two new handsets, the Nokia E6, a small-screen device with a mini-QWERTY keyboard, and the X7, a larger multimedia-friendly handset.
Written by First Take , Previews blog log-in on

While we wait for the first Nokia handsets running Windows Phone later this year, Nokia has two other operating systems on the go. Meego, an OS co-developed by Nokia and Intel, has made an appearance on the N9 while Anna, a revamped version of Symbian^3 for touchscreen devices, has debuted on two new handsets, the Nokia E6, a small-screen device with a mini-QWERTY keyboard, and the X7, a larger multimedia-friendly handset.

We’ve had both the E6 and X7 in our hands, and here look at how Anna functions on the X7 and examine the device itself.

Anna is a development from ^3, whose touch interface was not universally well received. Anna retains a very Symbian-like look and feel, but also adds some new features.

One obvious new feature is a new set of icons:

These are a little more rounded and slicker than those used in ^3. In a world where looks count for a lot, that’s a move in the right direction.

On a more practical note, at long last there's a mini-QWERTY keyboard in portrait mode. On the Nokia X7's 4in., this is just about usable — although anyone with larger fingers may want to swivel the screen into landscape mode.

We did encounter a couple of annoying text entry issues on the Nokia X7. The autocorrect seemed reluctant to insert apostrophes, and to insert them manually you need to access a secondary keyboard. We much prefer the tap-and-hold option for supplementary functions.

Nokia has also put a row of function keys beneath the space bar. When first using the Nokia X7 we often tapped these when aiming for the space bar, simply because we expect to get a space when we prod the bottom of the screen area. Over time this niggle will doubtless become less significant.

Symbian Anna has an improved web browser that runs faster and has had some usability tweaks. We especially like the button that sits on the bottom right of a web page and opens up a menu offering a wide range of functions.

The Nokia X7 seems to have an ideal screen for multimedia-rich activities like web browsing, being a large, 4-in.AMOLED option. The picture is certainly clear and bright, but the resolution rather lets things down. With top-end handsets offering resolutions of 480 by 800 pixels and higher, the X7's 360 by 640 seems low. It resulted in some fuzzy text while web browsing.

In other respects the screen acquits itself well. Video footage is sharp and clear, both played from the handset itself and streamed via the preinstalled YouTube client. We could certainly live with the screen resolution in that respect. The presence of Flash Lite rather than full Flash support rankles though.

Another new Anna feature is an improved photo gallery with easy-access image thumbnails. In many ways, this is simply a catch-up feature, bringing Symbian into line with what’s expected from a modern smartphone.

Business users might be interested in the new inclusion of support for Microsoft Communicator Mobile. There are also improvements to Ovi Maps, including location sharing via SMS and email.

As seen in the Nokia X7, Symbian Anna does represent an improvement over ^3. The X7 itself is a good-looking handset, albeit with a few quirks. We like the angled corners; although all four of them appear to house speakers, only the bottom two actually do.

We also like the curved long edges, which are metal and lead seamlessly into the backplate. Their curved rather than angular design makes the X7 feel comfortable in the hand. The backplate is not removable, so you can’t hotswap the battery. Fortunately, battery life is better than average for a smartphone. We managed two days of use between charges.

We're not convinced that the microSD card needs a caddy — fitting a card into the slot on the left-hand side is fiddly. Also, the curved long edges mean the camera shortcut button and volume rocker on the right side are a little difficult to find by touch; they're flush with their surroundings and curve away from the finger and the eye.

We’re surprised at the lack of internal memory – just 350MB. Nokia does provide an 8GB microSD card, so the X7 comes with a healthy amount of storage overall. Finally, the processor is a little slow at 680MHz: there were lots of occasions when we saw the circular Nokia wait icon as applications geared up to run. These days, users expect instant response from a smartphone, and this sluggishness could be a deal breaker.

Overall we think Anna is a significant improvement over ^3, but it needs more work if it's to compete with Android and iOS.

Or review sample came from Three, where it costs £380 on Pay As You Go and from £30 on contract.

Sandra Vogel

Editorial standards

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