Still, there are times where you have to dig through menus to accomplish a task. For example, to reply to an e-mail you must first hit Options and then choose reply. Meanwhile, in Android, the reply option is on the same page as the e-mail. The navigational experience was made all the more frustrating by occasional "memory full" error messages when we were simply trying to cycle through the home screens.
The one-tap UI might make Symbian easier to use, but the OS simply doesn't compare to the ease of use, flow, and polished look of competing operating systems, namely Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone.
The Nokia Astound offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, voice dialing, a vibrate mode, active noise cancellation, and text and multimedia messaging with threaded chat view. The phone's wireless feature, include Bluetooth 3.0, 3G support, and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n). The Astound also supports T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling feature, which allows you to make calls over a Wi-Fi network. There is no additional charge for the service, but be aware that the minutes are deducted from your regular voice plan.
The phone's address book is only limited by the available memory, and the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. Unlike other operating systems, the Astound doesn't automatically pull and sync contact information from your various e-mail accounts and social networking sites. It does so for Exchange, but you have to use other tools, such as the Ovi service, to get the rest of your contacts synced with the phone.
The Astound is compatible with multiple e-mail protocols, including Exchange, Lotus Notes, and POP3/IMAP accounts, and offers HTML and folder support. For social networking, there is a Nokia Social client that works as a feed for your Facebook and Twitter accounts and allows you to quickly update your status or comment on your friends' activities. However, the app is limited to just those two networks.
The smartphone also comes preloaded with the Quickoffice suite, a PDF reader, a ZIP manager, a voice recorder, a dedicated YouTube app, and Ovi Maps, which offers offline maps and free turn-by-turn navigation. Slacker Radio and Fruit Ninja Lite are thrown in for good measure. You can find more apps in the Ovi Store. The storefront is lacking a bit in both selection of titles and visual appeal, but at least purchases are made easy with carrier billing. The Astound has 8GB of mass memory and the expansion slot can support cards of up to 32GB.
The Astound has an adequate music player, but Nokia continues to excel in the area of imaging. The Astound is equipped with an 8-megapixel camera with a dual LED flash and the capability to shoot 720p HD video, as well as a host of editing options and tools, such as face detection, white balance controls, ISO settings, and color tones.
Picture quality was impressive. Even in a dimly lit room, colors were rich and vibrant and the objects in the photo were sharp. Video quality was also good. Unlike with some other camera phones, we didn't notice any major graininess or haziness in recorded clips.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Nokia Astound in New York using T-Mobile service and call quality was good. There was very little to no background noise on our side of the call, even during lulls in the conversation, so although voices could occasionally sound muffled, we had no difficulty understanding our callers. Callers didn't note any major problems with audio quality on their end either.
Nokia Astound call quality sample
Speakerphone quality was decent. The audio was slightly tinny but clear. There was just enough volume to hear our callers in a room where the TV was on in the background. We were able to pair the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones and had no problems making calls or listening to music.
The Astound has a WebKit-based browser, with support for Flash Lite 4.0, multiple windows, and a dedicated address bar. Using T-Mobile's 3G service, we were able to load CNET's full page in 27 seconds, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 11 seconds and 7 seconds respectively. YouTube videos loaded within a few seconds and played back without interruption, but picture quality was a bit pixelated.
Powered by a 680MHz ARM 11 processor, the Nokia Astound struggles sometimes in the performance department. As we mentioned in the Design section, there were lags when opening apps, and though we didn't experience any system crashes, there were delays that were long enough to make us wonder if we needed to reboot.
The Nokia Astound ships with a 1,200mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 9.5 hours and standby time of up to 23 days for 2G, and a rated 5 hours of talk time and up to 27 days of standby time for 3G. We are still conducting our battery drain tests but will update this section as soon as we have final results. So far, with moderate use, we've been able to go a full day before needing to recharge the battery. According to FCC radiation tests, the Astound has a digital SAR rating of 1.53W/kg.
The Nokia Astound isn't a bad device. It has a beautiful design and offers great call quality. The excellent camera is an added bonus. If those features are on the top of your want list, then we'd say the Astound is a perfectly fine choice. However, if you want a richer smartphone experience, then we recommend looking at something like the LG Optimus T, which offers a better user experience, access to more apps, and fuller integration of social networks, among other things. It's also a better value since it costs less ($39.99 with contract at the time of this review) than the Astound.