Sharp display, good web browsing, NFC facility
Dearth of apps, disappointing 2GB of storage, Symbian Belle cannot live up to iOS or Android
The Nokia 7900 is a great piece of kit that can be had for nothing on some bargain contracts, but only if you’re not too bothered about having a great choice of downloadable apps.
Nokia has been talking about getting rid of its outdated Symbian OS for some time - it is planning to pick up with Windows Phone 7. But it is really wringing every last opportunity out of its own operating system - witness the latest handset to come out of the Finnish phone giant's stable - the Nokia 700. This one sports yet another update of Symbian - named Belle - a last-ditch attempt at finally bringing the flailing OS into the realms of Android and iOS.
However, putting the OS to one side for the moment, to look at, the 700 is quite an eye-catching device. It is neat in size, slim and has plenty in the way of style - you certainly won't be ashamed to pull it out of your pocket on a night out. It's lightweight at 96g and measures 110x50.7x9.7mm, which makes it one of the smallest smarties on the market - good news if you wear really tight jeans (in fact we even managed to squeeze it into that little pocket sewn into jeans to put coins in).
On the left side of the device you'll see there is nothing at all, while the base features a rather odd-looking step. In fact, this is a speaker grill (which looks rather like a stubbly 'Desperate Dan' type chin). It looks like you should be able to slide up the display to reveal a vertical sliding keyboard like that on the BlackBerry Torch 9810 - but you can't. And if you gaze into the speaker grille for long enough, you'll be able to see a rather sweet smiling face. Look above the speaker and you'll find three buttons for Home, Bye and Answer.
The 3.5mm audio jack sits on the top of the device along with the connector for the mains charger (shame there's not a USB charger) and the micro US port. The lock and camera buttons and the volume rocker sit on the right side of the phone. They're a bit tiddly though, and can be hard to locate, but we guess that's the price you pay for such a small handset.
Hardware wise, the Nokia 700 is very pleasing - it is reminiscent of the fabulous Xperia Ray from Sony Ericsson, in fact. However, get past the hardware and the cracks start to show. The Xperia Ray runs on Android Gingerbread, bringing with it all its benefits - such as the almost half a milion apps that can be downloaded from Android Market, and its customisable, user-friendly interface. And while Nokia has made some great improvements with its latest Symbian outing, it remains that it will never live up to the likes of iOS or Android, even though 'Belle' is starting to look remarkably similar to Android.
Despite its small stature, the device has a great screen - the 3.2inches of Gorilla glass pretty much covers the entire front of the handset, and it has an excellent resolution of 360x640, which offers a sharp 229ppi. Colours are bright and the touch display is responsive. And while you might want a bigger display to watch a feature-length movie, the film trailers we viewed on it looked super sharp - and bear in mind there's only 0.3 inches of difference between this and the iPhone 4's screen.
Like Android, you are presented with six homepages to customise as you wish with widgets and shortcuts. Your Twitter and Facebook alerts are aggregated by Nokia Social, so that all your messages pop up as they are posted, as will your emails once you've signed in. There's also a notification bar so that you can keep everything in one tidy list. This bar cleverly keeps social network events, messages and emails organised as well as offering simple access to modes such as Silence and Wi-Fi. It really does offer much of what Android does now, and it's nice to see Nokia bringing the OS into the 21st century like this. One thing that is more reminiscent of the iPhone, however, is the menu screen, that has a similar grid layout. The Home buttons takes you back and forth between this and the homepages.
The new operating system feels speedier and less convuluted - due, no doubt in no small part to the 1GHz chip that sits under the hood. Sure there are big smartphones with more power under the bonnet - the HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II to name but two - however it's way ahead of the 600MHz processor that appeared in Nokia's previous round of Symbian handsets.
We also liked the speedy A-GPS when using Nokia Maps (an application that beats Google Maps hands-down) and the very decent five-megapixel camera, that produced decent clear snaps that offered good, true colours. There's also the opportunity to use NFC for contactless payments - when the rest of the world catches up with the technology.
So far so good, but now we have to turn our attention to apps - and this is where it all starts sliding downhill. To get into the apps store you'll have to set up an Ovi account. The Nokia Store (previously known as Ovi Store) is better than it was, but still lags woefully behind the Apple and Android offerings. It is severely short on content and much of what is there is pretty poor - Adventure of Ted is just one example. Prices are also higher than in other apps stores. If you just want the major titles such as Angry Birds or Facebook, you'll be okay, but anyone who really enjoys their apps will be hugely disappointed.
The Nokia 700 is an impressive piece of kit. Symbian Belle is finally starting to show promise as an OS and the phone looks good and performs well. But the lack of apps will be a deal-breaker for most smartphone fans.
|Type of phone:||Smartphone|
|Display:||16 million colours|
|Special Camera features:||LED flash|
|Music formats played:||MP3, eAAC, eAAC+, WMA|
|3.5mm jack port:||Yes|
|Call records:||Detailed, max 30 days|
|Phonebook:||Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photocall|
|Display description:||Nokia ClearBlack display|
|Standard color:||Cool grey, silver/white, coral red, peacock blue and purple|
|Launch Status:||Coming Soon|
|Operating system:||Symbian UIQ|
|Connectivity:||WLAN, MicroUSB, A2DP, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi|
|Announced date:||August 2011|
|What's in the Box:||N/A|
|International launch date:||Coming soon|
|Battery life when playing multimedia:||N/A|
|CPU:||1GHz ARM11 processor, 2D/3D Graphics HW Accelerator with OpenVG1.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0 support|
|FM Radio Description:||Yes|
|Internal memory:||512MB RAM|
|Memory Card Slot:||microSD|
|Messaging:||SMS, MMS, IM, Email|
|Internet Browser:||WAP 2.0, XHTML, HTML, RSS|
|E-mail client:||Push email|
|Games:||Yes and downloadable|
|Talktime:||270 mins (3G)|
|Standby:||Up to 450 hours (3G)|
|Display size:||3.2 inches|
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