Nokia X2 £69.95

24th Mar 2011 | 12:51

Nokia X2

The Nokia X2 is a good, cheap entry-level phone, but does it offer enough to satisfy?

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

The Nokia X2 is a simple phone with a few hidden surprises. It is well made, has a nice interface and overall is fine to use.

Like:

Great battery life; Brilliant for music; High volume loudspeaker; FM Radio; Affordable storage upgrades;

Dislike:

Poor keys and hardware navigation; Low quality camera; Out of date OS; No 3G or Wi-Fi; No GPS;

Nokia X2: Overview, design and feel

Overview, design and feel

The Nokia X2 is an entry-level handset with plenty of features and a penchant for music playback. It sits somewhere between the Nokia C1-01 and the Nokia X3 Touch and Type in both functionality and price.

With the recent trend in cramming as many features as possible into a phone in an effort to jump on the smartphone bandwagon, the Nokia X2 bucks the trend and offers simplicity of design and features. The Nokia X2 is a traditional candy bar-styled handset that sits nicely in your hand.

You won't find a touchscreen, Wi-Fi, GPS or any of the advanced features we are all getting used to.

But the feature set on the Nokia X2 is not to be sniffed at. It offers a 2.2", 320x240 pixel screen, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, QVGA video recording at 20 fps, FM radio, GPRS internet, expandable memory via MicroSD card as well as phenomenal battery life.

If Apple were to launch the iPhone 5 with the above features, there would be a lot of very unhappy people out there. But when you consider that the Nokia X2 is available for a tenth of the price of a pay as you go iPhone, you can forgive them a lot more!

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The phone is aimed at those who are looking for a cheap, reliable handset. The styling of the Nokia X2 wouldn't look out of place in the hand of a teenage hipster, and the ease of use will satisfy your mum and gran as well.

The candy bar style Nokia X2 is slim and well proportioned. All the ports are on the top of the handset, with a 3.5mm headphone jack, 2mm charging port and covered micro-USB connector all present.

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Down the right hand side you are presented with a multitude of buttons to control volume and gain access to the microSD port and camera button. On the left you have music playback controls.

Though the Nokia X2 is predominately a phone made of plastic, the battery cover is made of brushed aluminium. It is easy to remove, should you need to gain access to the battery, and adds a quality touch to an otherwise budget feel handset.

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Nokia X2: Interface

Nokia X2 review: Interface

The Nokia X2 uses Symbian's S40 operating system. Though Nokia has recently announced its departure from the Symbian OS in favour of Windows 7 Phone, these changes probably won't trickle down to the entry-level handsets for some time to come.

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S40 is a perfectly stable and feature-rich operating system for phones at this level. The menus are fast and responsive, applications load quickly and everything is presented in an intuitive way.

If you have used a Nokia at any point in the past five years you will instantly know your way around this handset.

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The home screen offers a superfluity of quick access widgets for everything from music to calendar, without having to open the main menu. When you do open the menu, everything is where you expect it to be. The top-level menu is a nine square grid of icons, traditional to recent Nokia handsets, and secondary navigation reverts to an easy to use list format. Everything opens quickly and closes with the press of a button.

While the software interface is great, the hardware is sadly a let down. The five-way Navi key, which allows for navigation around the various menus, feels cramped and difficult to use, as do the number keys.

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They are spaced into such a small area, it is very easy to end up pressing multiple keys at once. It should be noted that this reviewer isn't known for his small fingers, so someone with slimmer digits will probably get on much better!

Nokia X2: Contacts and calling

Nokia X2 review: Contacts and calling

Contacts are accessed in one of two ways on the Nokia X2; either by pressing the right hand button on the device or by navigating manually through the menu.

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Names are displayed as a simple list, but that is all you really need for contacts.

When adding in new contacts you have a plethora of options including all the usual details as well as email, IM, birthday and websites. You can attach videos and images too, which is a nice touch.

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There is no easily accessible way to gain info from your contacts' Facebook and Twitter profiles, sadly. You will have to take a step up to something like the Nokia E7 to gain integrated social networking.

One area where the Nokia X2 shines is in its functionality as a phone. This sounds like a stupid thing to say, but many handsets now prioritise data functionality over good old voice calling. This is not so with the Nokia X2; calls are easy to make, either from your address book or by dialing directly. Aforementioned unusable keys notwithstanding, the whole process is beautifully simple.

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Call quality is great, with crisp voice representation. And in the time we had it, 0% of our calls were dropped!

The speakerphone on the Nokia X2 is superb; it is loud and clear even at full volume. The microphone doesn't quite have the range we would have liked, but it more than suffices for calls made with the handset two feet away.

Nokia X2: Messaging

Nokia X2 review: Messaging

Nokia wrote the book on text messaging, being one of the first handset manufacturers to include T9 text recognition all those years ago.

There isn't much in the Nokia X2's messaging function to differentiate it from those early handsets, but as the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Messaging is beautifully simple.

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To access, either press left on the Navi key or find it through the standard menu system.

The lack of a QWERTY keyboard means writing has to be done using those nightmare number keys. Despite this, sending a message is as easy as it ever was. The predictive text works well, managing to correct pretty much every word we threw at it.

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As usual pressing the Star (*) key brings up a list of punctuation, and the Hash (#) key switches you between upper and lower case.

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Email is easy to set up and the Nokia X2 offers email services from Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail and Nokia's own Ovi mail and standard POP services. Due to the lack of Wi-Fi on the Nokia X2, you will have to make sure you have a decent data package on your account if you intend to use the X2 as your portable email client.

Email functionality is basic, but it allows for creation of new emails, replies and forwards. However attachment support is pretty much non-existent.

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The Nokia X2 has no IM functionality as standard, although there are plenty of third party apps available from the Ovi Store.

Nokia X2: Internet

Nokia X2 review: Internet

The Nokia X2 is not designed to be an internet behemoth, but it does offer some basic functionality, and supports Adobe Flash Lite 3.0 and Java MIDP 2.1.

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The phone lacks both Wi-Fi and 3G data connections, so if you intend on using the X2 for regular browsing of the web, you should be prepared for some serious waiting times.

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Loading up the TechRadar site was painfully slow, and when it did finally load, the text was so small it was unreadable.

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Apart from occasional checking of addresses and local phone numbers through the built-in Bing search engine, we don't see the X2 as being a usable portable browsing platform.

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One area you may find yourself using is the Ovi Store. Through this store you can download a multitude of apps for your phone with relative ease. Navigating to the store is done through the standard menu.

On our first launch of the app, we were asked to download a 1.3MB update to the software. To give you an idea of just how slow GPRS can be, the file took a phenomenally long 3 minutes 35 seconds to download.

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Overall, using the internet on the X2 is not a good experience, especially when you consider that for an extra £10 to £20 you can get the Orange San Francisco, which comes with 3G, and Wi-Fi, as well as full Android OS. If regular internet use is your thing, maybe avoid the X2.

Nokia X2: Camera

Nokia X2 review: Camera

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The Nokia X2 comes with a five-megapixel camera, which on paper sounds impressive. There is a dedicated camera button on the right hand side of the phone, allowing fast access to the camera app.

With a 5MP sensor you would expect fairly passable shots. However, that is sadly not the case. Due to the lack of any real focus capability in the lens, images are blurry and colours look washed out and unrealistic.The flash is bright enough, but has little effect in adding quality to stills.

The Nokia X2 does come with a couple of extra features, such as negative effect mode – a fun and welcome addition to an otherwise lacklustre camera.

We subjected the X2 to a variety of environments and lighting conditions and in all cases the images it produced failed to impress. Will the Nokia X2 be good for the occasional snapshot for Facebook? Yes, but don't expect to win any photographic awards with it!

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OUTDOORS: Colours are dull and drained of life

Click here for the full res shot

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ZOOM: A 4x digital zoom wasn't enough to produce quality close-ups

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FLASH: In low light, the flash failed to have much of an effect

Click here for the full res shot

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INDOORS: In natural light, images still appear flat

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NEGATIVE MODE: Negative effect mode brings a touch of fun to the Nokia X2 camera

Click here for the full res shot

Nokia X2: Video

Nokia X2 review: Video

Considering the poor performance of the camera, we weren't expecting much from the video either. The Nokia X2 records video in the now dated 3GP format. Though videos only record at 20 frames per second, the result is actually pretty smooth.

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One of our biggest gripes with the X2's video capability is that you can only output to a maximum resolution of 320 x 240. This resolution is fine for viewing on the handset itself, but when exported to a computer or uploaded to YouTube and the like, video either appears in a tiny window or stretched beyond recognition.

Nokia X2: Media

Nokia X2 review: Media

One of the best features of the Nokia X2 is its media support. Coming with only 48MB of built-in memory, you are limited in what you can achieve without adding extra storage.

Luckily, the X2's storage is expandable to 16GB through the MicroSD slot in the side of the phone. Our test model only had 2GB, but that was plenty to see what this phone could handle.

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The Nokia X2 has a music player supporting multiple formats including MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+ and WMA. The interface is list-based and for the most part is pretty intuitive and easy to use. Using the supplied headphones, a 320kbps MP3 sounded a little tinny, but this is probably more down to the headphones than the phone. Plugging in a decent set of cans gave a much fuller sound.

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The Nokia X2 also comes with a fantastic stereo loudspeaker. We were shocked at the volume of this thing. It really does pump out the tunes. As summer approaches, this could be useful for picnics in the park and similar events.

The output is clear even when pushed to full volume. Again the sound is a little tinny, but considering the drivers are only a little bigger than a Tic Tac, this is to be expected.

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On top of the media player, the X2 offers FM radio. A few models back, to listen to the radio on a Nokia, you were forced to use the often mediocre headphones that came with the phone, as they also housed the antenna. This has all changed with the X2 and the antenna now sits snugly inside the handset.

The interface is great – simple left and right to scan through the stations, with up and down switching between presets. Sound quality is great again.

As for visual media, the Nokia X2 has capability for playback of both images and video. To access these you simply need to open the Photo menu and browse to My Photos. The process is the same for video. These menus are easy to use. However, don't expect to find editing software on this handset. Viewing and deleting are about as good as it gets.

Nokia X2: Battery life, connectivity and apps

Nokia X2 review: Battery life

The Nokia X2 comes with an 860 mAh Li-Ion battery with a claimed 765 minutes of talk time and a monumental 530 hours of standby time. We weren't able to confirm the full 530 hours, but after having the phone for over a week we never had to charge it, and still had three of the four bars left.

The battery is one of the best we have seen in any handset over the past 12 months and is a really strong selling point for the X2. If you need a reliable battery on your mobile, you won't find much better that the Nokia X2.

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Connectivity

Connectivity on the Nokia X2 is limited. The X2 offers quad band calling, GPRS internet and Bluetooth for data transfer and hands-free calling. A lack of Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G and HSDPA means that this handset feels very much stuck in the past. In fact the Nokia 6100, which launched nearly nine years ago, had exactly the same connectivity features.

With regards to PC connection, you can either move individual files to and from the phone using a Bluetooth data transfer, or hook it up via a standard micro USB cable to transfer photos and video, notes and more.

Apps

The lack of decent connectivity twinned with Symbian S40 OS mean that you're not going to find the next Infinity Blade being launched on the Nokia X2 like it is on the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

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However, the bundled apps offer a good all round choice of both games and productivity applications.

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Included in the X2, you will find an alarm clock, calendar and calculator. The alarm app provides you with a single alarm with snooze function, while the calculator is pretty basic but does include some simple scientific functions. Other apps include a to-do list manager, countdown timer, voice recorder, stopwatch and note taker.

You can also find a decent array of games and applications through Nokia's Ovi Store, but due to the limited speed of connections, be prepared to wait a while!

If you were expecting to find any sort of mapping or GPS software on the X2, you will be disappointed. The Ovi App store also currently has no compatible apps for finding directions or planning routes, so you can't add this function yourself.

Nokia X2: Hands-on gallery

Nokia X2 review: Hands-on gallery

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Nokia X2: Official gallery

Nokia X2 review: Official gallery

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Nokia X2: Verdict

Nokia X2 review: Verdict

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The Nokia X2 is a simple, affordable mobile phone which has left out many of the usual smartphone staples but included a few hidden surprises. It is well made, has an easy interface and overall is fine to use.

Its preference as a music focused handset has great potential, and the inclusion of an FM radio adds an extra avenue for listening when your own tunes fail to cut it. However the Symbian S40 operating system is getting seriously long in the tooth and it will soon not have a place in this media centric, web-focused world.

We liked

The Nokia X2 has awesome battery life; this phone will go for days on moderate use and gave us a real sense of freedom from the socket. The crisp and clear loudspeaker was a clear winner and the X2's media expandability means you have the potential for hours of tunes.

Build quality is also fairly solid and the inclusion of an aluminium back is a welcome touch of luxury.

We disliked

The X2 has seriously unfriendly buttons. If you have the fingers of a borrower, then the X2 will probably suit you fine. However we just couldn't get on with the tightly-spaced, unresponsive keys.

The camera is pretty bad. Yes it's 5MP, and the images may be large, but they are washed out and blurry, even in daylight conditions.

The handset also has a lacklustre choice of applications and dire connectivity options, which were enough to make long-term use a chore.

Verdict

The Nokia X2 is great value for those who just want a simple mobile phone. However this handset feels confused. It has the styling of a teenager and the features of a dinosaur. If you are looking to replace your aging handset, this could be the one for you. Otherwise we suggest steering clear.

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