You know things are really moving fast in the cell phone world when even the prepaid phones are sporting full keyboards. They haven't taken over the space completely, but handsets built for texting are slowly gaining dominance on the budget side of the market. Take, for instance, Nokia's X2 for T-Mobile. Though it is light on high-end features, it offers just about everything you need for a messaging life. You also get a full HTML browser, though it's not worth the trouble given the slow EDGE network and the low-resolution display. Yet, if you're looking for a well-constructed, easy-to-use handset that makes good calls, then the X2 delivers the goods.
"Boring" is a word that accurately describes the X2, but that's not a bad thing. Indeed, not every cell phone needs to have a striking design, especially those that are built with communication in mind. With its boxy shape and slightly curved bottom, the X2 looks a bit like the Samsung BlackJack series, albeit with a different navigation array. At 4.7 inches long by 2.35 inches wide by 0.56 inch deep, the X2 is relatively slim and compact for its class. It slips easily into a pocket and it won't weigh you down (3.79 ounces).
As for durability, the X2 shows Nokia's usual design chops. The handset has a solid, comfortable feel in the hand and the keyboard is quite good given the X2's price. The domed keys offer an ergonomic typing experience, and the arrangement should be spacious enough for most users. Numbers do share space with letters on some keys, while other letter buttons double up with common punctuation. You'll also find a dedicated Symbol and Control keys and a large and convenient spacebar.
The navigation array is huge. In the center is a raised four-way toggle with a recessed OK button. The toggle is easy to use, and you can set the toggle as a shortcut to four user-defined features. Surrounding the toggle are two soft keys, shortcuts to the Web browser and messaging app, and the Talk and End/Power keys. Though this last set of controls also is large, they feel slick and a tad cheap. We don't anticipate long-term issues, but you do notice a change from the keyboard.
The QVGA display measures 2.4 inches and supports 262,000 colors (320x240 pixels). Though that's not a bad resolution for a messaging phone, it doesn't do justice to the Web browser or graphics. You can see the pixelation and most colors look relatively flat. Also, keep in mind that it's not a touch screen. After using so many smartphones we instinctively tried pecking at the display the first time we picked up the X2. Fortunately, the Series 40 menus have a simple design, and you can access some applications directly from the home screen.
On the top of the X2 are a 3.5-millimeter headset jack and the charger port. We were hoping for a standard Micro-USB charger, but Nokia used its longtime 2mm connection on the X2. On the left side are a Micro-USB port for syncing and a microSD card slot. You won't see a volume rocker, which means you'll have to change the sound level using the navigation toggle when you're on a call. The camera lens sits on the rear side next to a small speaker.
As mentioned, the X2's features center on messaging with a couple of extras thrown in. We'll start with the basics first. The X2 has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, a street address, a birthday, a nickname, and notes. As always, you can save callers to groups and pair them with a photo or video and one of 33 polyphonic ringtones. Alternatively, you can use your own audio recordings as ringtones. And if you're really popular, you can store an additional 250 names on the SIM card.
Organizer options include a world clock, a calendar, a calculator, a unit and currency converter, a to-do list, a notepad, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch. You'll also find a voice recorder, PC syncing, stereo Bluetooth, a My Nokia app for messages and service support, and a Community portal that can deliver Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Like almost every other basic phone on the planet, the Nokia X2 supports threaded text messaging and multimedia messaging. Yet the X2 doesn't stop there. The handset also offers access to most POP3 and IMAP4 services, instant messaging for the major platforms, and a dedicated portal for T-Mobile e-mail. Keep in mind that e-mail and instant messaging come through a Web interface rather than dedicated apps. The experience can be tedious and frustrating at times, but the options are there if you want them.