Flash mobs in malls across India. Toll exemption for commuters at a tollbooth on the Delhi-Noida highway for a day. A huge 4D projection in London with Deadmau5’s rhythmic beats playing in the background.
Confused? These are the lengths Nokia has gone to promote the Lumia 800.
Don't be fooled by its tiny frame, the Nokia 700 packs a powerful 1GHz processor under the hood.
I know this review has nothing to do with Nokia's flagship Windows smartphone. What I want to highlight, though, is that two Symbian Belle devices (soon to be rechristened Nokia Belle) – Nokia 701 and Nokia 700 – might look like they have descended into the abyss amidst blitzkrieg promotion for the Lumia 800.
We got the tiny Nokia 700 in our labs recently. So tiny to get lost in oblivion? Maybe not. Read further to know whether this David can stand tall amidst the bevy of Goliaths in the world of smartphones.
Features & Specs
Don't be fooled by its tiny frame, the Nokia 700 packs a powerful 1GHz processor under the hood. Assisting the processor is a 512MB RAM which should ideally be sufficient for a smooth Symbian Belle experience. Do you want to slice fruit at the speed of lightening with your fingers? The inbuilt 2D/3D hardware Accelerator with OpenVG1.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0 should take care of it.
The 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 360x640 translating to a better pixel-per-inch (ppi) of ~229 is much higher than the ~210ppi of the Nokia 701.
The Nokia 700 has a low internal storage memory of 2GB. However, you can add up to 32GB more with the help of micro-SD cards. With regards to connectivity you have your regular GPRS/3G/Wi-Fi. The 700 has a 5MP fixed focus camera with LED flash but no secondary camera.
One major advantage of Nokia's Symbian Belle devices over the Windows phone counterparts is Near Field Communication (NFC) connectivity. This is a USP of the phone and Nokia has a unique moniker for NFC in its advertising campaign called 'Just Tap'. This time around I also received a unit of the NFC-enabled Nokia Play 360 speaker. Tapping a phone to the speaker is not exactly my idea of fun. Hence, I personally feel this is an added advantage one could give a miss. The true potential of NFC will be realised when financial transactions come into play in future. Other gimmicks can take a backseat till then.
The Nokia 700 review unit came with three pre-installed games- Climate Mission, Fruit Ninja (check for reference in the first paragraph) and special Angry Birds Magic edition that is NFC enabled. Tap your phone with another NFC-enabled phone running this game and you will unlock a few more levels.
The Nokia 700 box has a bare-basic bundle of 3.5mm earphone, charger and USB connector cable.
Design and Usability
Slim, short and cute. Think Reese Witherspoon and of course the Nokia 700.
With dimensions of 110 x 50.7 x 9.7 mm and weighing a paltry 96 grams, the 700 redefines tiny smartphones. It also redefines fitting snugly in your palms. Take a look at the pictorial representation below to get a vague idea of the dimensions of the phone.
Also, the phone comes draped in a number of vibrant colours like silver white, cool gray, peacock blue, coral red and purple. I got the sober 'cool gray' one for review.
Coming to the actual design, the Nokia 700 is a beauty. However, some major design elements seem out-of-place and hamper usability of the device. For example the distinctive bezel around the screen extends a little too far on the bottom. In fact when the screen is dark it is difficult to distinguish the screen from the bezel. I invariably ended hitting the non-screen area too often. Adding to the woes is an awkwardly recessed single slab of button, which houses the home, call and end call/power commands.
Also, there is a curved speaker grill that runs across the entire breadth of the phone on the bottom below the slab of button. It looks good aesthetically and is practically a good design too.
The right side of the phone has hardware buttons for the camera, screen lock and volume rocker. The left is bare. Once again these buttons are extremely small and my huge fingers found it difficult to get accustomed to it.
Thought, not as blazing as some of the other smartphones in the market the touchscreen is fairly responsive. However, a smaller screen means less real estate to fit the onscreen QWERTY keyboard and more pain for the users. Do not even consider using the keyboard in portrait mode. It is impossible.
Symbian Belle is a miles away from its competition when it comes to social network integration. The only excuse for an attempt at creating the ideal social networking experience is an app called 'Social' which is pathetic to say the least. However, the two best apps for Facebook and Twitter on any mobile OS i.e. Gravity (Twitter client) and Fmobi (Facebook app) are available in the Nokia store. Setting up mails is a breeze and the push notifications work absolutely fine.
Despite the cosmetic changes the OS looks dated. Adding to the woes is the lack of quality apps on the Nokia store. But the strong point for these devices are their build quality that can quite literally pack a punch and provide a robust user experience over a flashy one. In short, Nokia loyalists will not be dissapointed.
The screen is bright and not bad under direct sunlight either. The battery life is good as the phone lasted me one and a half days with intermittent Wi-Fi and 3G usage. The voice quality on calls is once again top-notch.
Browsing and Multimedia
A 5MP camera with EDoF and single LED flash. What is missing? You guessed it right auto-focus. It is a common feature with Nokia’s smartphones these days. I think the Finnish manufacturer actually takes pride in excluding auto-focus. Why this kolaveri Nokia?
The result is that you cannot take close-up and macro shots. The camera is blazing fast which was surprising but the resulting image quality was far from satisfactory. The images taken in soft sunlight were washed out and noise was prevalent. Take a look at the images below to make your own decision.
Click on images to enlarge
However, the video capture quality was great. The 720p video captured at 30fps did have some stuttering and screen tearing but it was barely noticable. Video quality gets a thumbs up from me.
The one area where Nokia never fails to dissapoint is the audio/music department. The radio catches signals in a jiffy and is adequately loud. Also, the music player is great but no custom equalizer sticks out like a sore thumb. But the sound quality is excellent and it is a treat to listen to music on this phone. It is a great replacement for your standalone iPod/MP3 player. However, the huge speaker grill on the bottom was not really loud. In fact the sound was quite muffled. The phone has a more than decent video player which played DivX out of the box and managed 720p videos without any issues.
With the small upgrades over the Symbian Anna browser’s, the default one on Belle handles browsing web pages really well. It renders pages pretty fast and the in-built flash support is an added advantage.
So this David falters in crucial aspects of being a smartphone. The hardware cannot be blamed entirely because the real culprit here is the software and how it manifests into the final build of the phone. The Nokia 701 was an outright winner despite running the same OS. It is available for Rs. 17,490 and with the 700 available for Rs. 15,970, I believe it is only wise to suggest that you choose the former.
However, the Nokia 700 is a great little device for teen girls and ladies alike considering the variety of colour options, the size and the non-flussy user interface.