Nokia 701

Ershad.K 2011-11-24
81 Very Good
Price: Rs 16,590

Full Review


Nokia Lumia 800 Windows-based smartphone has suddenly overshadowed the launch of Symbian Belle devices. With the Finnish mobile phone manufacturer shifting attention to its flagship Windows phone, the Nokia 701, a brave little warrior, now looks like David in front of the Goliath (Nokia Lumia 800).

The latest revelation by Nokia that Symbian will get updates and support only till 2016 from Nokia, I would like to see if these Symbian-based smartphones still generate the same amount of interest from users.

The Nokia 701, when launched, was the company’s most eyeball grabbing Symbian Belle smartphone. Read the entire review to know whether this phone is actually worth it.

Features & Specs

The Nokia 701 sports a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with a  resolution of 360x640 and a display boasting 16m colours. The Clear Black Display (CBD) screen is an added advantage. Apart, from that the box mentions in bold letters that the phone has the ‘world’s brightest display’. The major USP of the Belle devices, including the nokia 701, that everyone was shouting over the rooftops, is the 1GHz processor and 2D/3D graphics HW accelerator. And last but not the least, the phone runs an updated version of the Symbian^3 OS called Symbian Belle.

Have you seen the Nokia C7? Then you have seen the 701.

The internal memory of 8GB is a great advantage and if you want more space then you can add up to 32GB with microSD cards. Also a plethora of connectivity optios wait at your disposal to make web browsing easier, that include GPRS/3G/Wi-Fi. Another connectivity feature that Nokia has been marketing with fervor under the “Just tap” moniker is the Near Field Communication (NFC) capability of the 701. My only tryst with NFC was with the app-store freebies that comes buldled in the form of an NFC sticker on the quick guide for the phone inside the box.

In terms of pre-installed apps, the Nokia 701 has Shazam (a music recognising app), Vlingo (Voice assistant) and Quickoffice. A good bundle. The box has a bare-basic bundle of 3.5mm earphone, charger, USB connector cable.

Design and Usability

Have you seen the Nokia C7? Then you have seen the 701.

Definitely not a bad thing because the phone looks classy (I couldn’t find any other adjective to describe it) with the impressive use of metal on the back and high-quality polycarbonate plastic on the front. It stands out from the plethora of 3.5-inch smartphones that are available today with the pocket-friendly and sleek design. At 117.2 x 56.8 x 11 mm dimensions and a weight of 131 grams, the phone fits snug in your palms and sometimes feels a little too small. It is available in three different shades. Since, my colour distinguishing aesthetics do not match that of an artist I really do not mind any one of the three available colour options – namely silver light, steel dark and amethyst violet. I got the steel dark one for review.

With regards to hardware buttons, the right side of the phone has the dedicated camera key, lock button and the volume buttons (not rocker). I have a small gripe with the camera button. It flows with the curve on the bottom-right corner and as a result accessing/pressing it becomes a bit of a pain. The left is rather naked and has the battery pin-hole. The top of the phone has the 3.5mm earphone jack, the power key and the microUSB slot.

There used to be a time when Nokia and touchscreen weren’t best of buddies. Now Nokia is taking touchscreen to the next level with the touch-and-type phones. As a result over the years, the capacitive touch of the smartphones have also improved drastically. The Nokia 701 has a very responsive touch input which may also be because of the new OS and its feel. However, the keyboard is a big letdown. It is too small and I invariably ended up typing just what I did not intend to.

I have spoken in length about Symbian Belle OS in my hands-on with OS. I can safely say that this is the best Symbian OS till date. You won’t be dissapointed. However, please note that it is still not up to the mark of Android or iOS. A sturdy OS nonetheless.

The screen is so bright, yet very subtle that it is a treat to watch videos on it. The visibility under sunlight is also very good. Two thumbs up! The battery life is good. Not very good or great, mind it! I could use the phone for an entire day without charging. The voice quality on calls, in true Nokia tradition, is impressive.

Browsing and Multimedia

I am fed up of asking this question. Why on earth would you (Nokia) still persist on a full-focus camera for your premium phones. I do not care if it is a second-generation Extended Depth of Focus (EDoF) or tenth generation some other technical crap. I want auto-focus if you are providing me with an 8MP shooter that boasts of f/2.8 lens.

Click on the images to enlarge

The Nokia 701 can capture really impressive details and some really warm colours in broad daylight considering you are taking the photos from a safe distance (sarcasm intended). The camera of the 701 is like the girlfriend who will never let you come too close to you lest you make her pregnant. Try going a little close to the subject and you will only capture out-of-focus subject each time.

The phone captures 720p videos MP4 videos. The captured video quality is decent but there is quite a bit of screen tearing on closer inspection.

This is one of the best multimedia phones you can own in this price range. The music quality on the loudspeakers and earphones is top-notch and the radio is also nothing short of exemplary. The default video player could handle most of the videos I threw at except for anything tagged 1080P.

The new and improved Symbian Belle browser is slightly better that Symbian Anna browser. Any improvement is appreciated as pages load slightly faster and the screen is a treat to view full-blown pages.

Bottom Line

The Nokia 701 is available for a retail price of Rs. 16,590 which is a great bargain for a phone with such great features. There are a lot of other Android-counterparts. Some have bigger screens, some have great features. However, the 701 has one thing the others don’t a huge fanbase in India. At least until the future releases (Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710), this is the Nokia phone to buy if you were looking out for one. But stay away if you want a great camera. Look at the Nokia N8 instead.

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