Series 40 is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide and is generally regarded as one of the more intuitive non-touch user experiences on phones. Adding touch to an existing platform is no trivial task, something Nokia learned the hard way when it transitioned Symbian from S60v3 to S60v5 with the 5800 XpressMusic
. We're happy to report that Nokia avoided making the same mistakes with the Touch-and-Type version of Series 40: touch on the X3-02 is not a half-baked add-on. The interface is polished both esthetically and functionally, and the user experience remains intuitive. Gone are the 3 physical softkeys and the d-pad, replaced by 3 virtual softkeys (soft softkeys?) and direct touch navigation. There's kinetic scrolling, long presses, and haptic feedback throughout the interface. In addition to vibration feedback when tapping on the screen, you'll feel a haptic "bump" when scrolling to the end of a list or menu.
While it's all very clever, several areas still require improvements. First, you'll find weirdly abbreviated descriptions like "Rest. fact. sett
." liberally sprinkled all over the interface. These are confusing and detract from the overall experience. Second, relying solely on a numeric keypad for text input is just painful. We're aware that real estate is at a premium on the 2.4-inch touchscreen, but it looks like there's just enough room for a landscape QWERTY keyboard on the display. Third, Series 40 remains a dumbphone OS at the core, with no consistent notifications and no real multitasking. Nokia bundles apps for email and social networking, but only the latter dispatches notifications. Multitasking is limited to music playback and only functions when the camera is not being used. Finally, no GPS means Ovi Maps
is not available and Google Maps is all but useless without a separate Bluetooth receiver. We're amazed that the X3-02 lacks even simple cell-based positioning.
The default web browser is almost identical to the one in Symbian. It covers the basics (HTML, no Flash), but we experienced problems loading some sites like the full version of Engadget. Thankfully, Opera Mini
comes pre-loaded and works like a charm. The built-in email client handles multiple Ovi Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, POP3 and IMAP accounts. According to the menus, Gmail integration also enables access to Google Contacts and Google Talk, but we never succeeded in setting this up. Unfortunately, there's no native Exchange support for email, contacts, or calendars. On the social networking front, the phone includes Nokia Communities along with a Facebook and Twitter client with a matching homescreen widget. For some unknown reason, we kept getting repeatedly logged out of our accounts and prompted for our passwords, so we eventually gave up. Hopefully Nokia will fix this in a future firmware update.
On the plus side, the media player works very well and handles music and videos in a variety of common formats such as MP3, MP4, WAV, H.264, AAC+, XviD, WMA, and WMV. The picture editor also stands out. As for the rest of the bundled software, it's pretty much what you'd expect from a feature phone. For additional content, the X3-02 supports Java apps and comes with Nokia's Ovi Store
The Nokia X3-02 Touch-and-Type combines quality hardware with a pleasant user experience, but suffers from a lackluster OS and finicky software. It's a decent enough feature phone for those who simply want a durable, and low-cost ($200 unsubsidized) device that focuses on core functionality and offers a few extras in a small and familiar package. But for those who also seek GPS, multitasking, or Exchange integration on a budget, it's too little, too late: there's a growing number of budget smartphones -- like the T-Mobile Comet
and the Orange San Francisco
-- that eclipse the X3-02 at the same price point. The world is changing, and we're pretty sure that increasingly, most people will chose the smartphone over the feature phone. We're just not convinced that Nokia is paying attention.