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Nokia X3 Touch and Type review: Nokia X3 Touch and Type

Nokia X3 Touch and Type

Bonnie Cha Former Editor
Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.
Bonnie Cha
6 min read


Nokia X3 Touch and Type

The Good

The Nokia X3 Touch and Type packs a touch screen into a compact design. It also offers a 5-megapixel camera and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 3G support.

The Bad

The smartphone is sluggish. The smaller screen size can be a strain on the eyes.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia X3 Touch and Type is an inexpensive option if you want an unlocked phone primarily for making calls and sending texts.

Announced in August 2010, the Nokia X3 Touch and Type is an entry-level handset that packs a lot of features into a small package, including a touch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, and a broad range of wireless options. It's also relatively inexpensive (around $170) as far as unlocked phones go. However, it's not without its faults. For one, some of the X3's services, such as Ovi Music, aren't available in the U.S. It can be sluggish and though it's not technically a smartphone, customers might be swayed to other devices like the HTC Aria, which offers more power and features for less, even if it means signing up for a contract. All that said, if you're after an unlocked phone simply to make calls, the Nokia X3 Touch and Type isn't a bad option.

The Nokia X3 Touch and Type is one of the smallest smartphones we've seen in a while. At 4.2 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick and 2.8 ounces, it's slightly taller than the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini but thinner and lighter. We have to admit, in a day and age where the smartphones are getting bigger, the X3's compact size is a nice change of pace. It easily fits in a pants pocket without adding too much bulk, and the candy bar-style phone is comfortable to hold during phone conversations. We also appreciate that while being lightweight, the handset has a solid construction that doesn't feel cheap.

Unlike some of the latest smartphones, the Nokia X3 Touch and Type is petite and lightweight.

Of course, the smaller size comes with some trade-offs, most notably the screen size. To Nokia's credit, it's rare and wonderful to get a touch screen on this type of form factor, and the company's done a nice job of optimizing the menu for relatively easy navigation. The home screen can be personalized with various shortcuts for quick access apps. Also, despite being resistive, we found the QVGA touch screen to be quite responsive and adequately clear and bright. That said, at 2.4 inches diagonally, the X3's screen is a bit limited in the amount of information it can display, and clicking on links within a Web page can be challenging. There's also no pinch-to-zoom support or a built-in accelerometer.

The X3's 12-button alphanumeric keypad is spacious and easy to use.

For obvious reasons, the X3 doesn't offer an onscreen keyboard, so you'll have to use the 12-button alphanumeric keypad below the display to input text. The phone offers predictive text to help with message composition. The keypad is spacious so despite having to peck away at the keys, you should have no problem with mispresses, and Nokia even includes an extra column of buttons for symbols and other functions. There are also Talk and End/power keys and shortcuts to the messaging app and media player right below the display.

On the right side of the phone, you'll find a volume rocker and a lock button. The top of the device houses a 3.5mm headphone jack, a power connector, and Micro-USB port. Though the X3 features Nokia's proprietary power connector, we found that you can charge the phone using the Micro-USB port. The camera is on the back, with the microSD expansion slot located behind the battery door.

The Nokia X3 Touch and Type comes packaged with just the basics: an AC adapter (non U.S. standard), a wired stereo headset, and reference material.

Running on the S40 platform, the Nokia X3 Touch and Type isn't a full-fledged smartphone like the Symbian 3-based Nokia N8, so you'll miss out on some features like Exchange support and free turn-by-turn navigation via Ovi Maps. Nevertheless, the X3 is still a feature-packed device, particularly for its size and price.

The handset offers Nokia's Messaging application, with support for Ovi Mail, Gmail, and Windows Live, as well as other POP3 and IMAP accounts. We set up our Gmail and Yahoo accounts on the phone with no problem. The mail app supports folders but is fairly basic in functionality. The X3's doesn't exactly lend itself to being an e-mail machine, but at least you can check your messages and respond if necessary. For quicker communication, you have the option of text and multimedia messaging, instant-messaging apps, and Facebook and Twitter community clients.

The quad-band world phone offers a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, voice dialing, and a vibrate mode. The phone's address book is only limited by the available memory, and the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. There's room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, work and home addresses, e-mail addresses, birthday, and more vitals. For caller ID purposes, you can assign each contact a photo, a group ID, or a custom ringtone.

Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth 2.1 are onboard, with support for mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, and audio-video remote control. The X3 is 3G-capable; more specifically, it supports the 850/900/1900/2100 WCDMA band, so it will work on AT&T's 3G network. You have two browsers to choose from: a standard Nokia browser and Opera Mini. We found the latter to be the superior browser as it allows multiple windows, visual bookmarks, and better page optimization, among other things.

With Flash Lite support, you can stream videos from the browser but the built-in multimedia player also supports MPEG-4, 3GPP, H.263 and H.264 video codecs, as well as MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+, and WMA music files. Now, one of the highlights that Nokia pointed out when the X3 was first announced was the inclusion of Ovi Music Unlimited, a subscription-based service that allows people to download free music from the Nokia Music Store. Unfortunately, however, this service is not available in the U.S., so we can't take advantage of this feature. Instead, you get a fairly basic music player that displays album art and offers shuffle and repeat modes and on-the-fly playlist creation. There's also an FM radio, but be aware that you need to use a wired headset as it acts as the radio antenna.

Though it could be sharper, picture quality wasn't bad.

For imaging, the X3 is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with a 4x digital zoom. The camera options are fairly limited, but once you've taken a photo you can edit the image in a number of ways, including adding effects, clip art, and text, and adjusting brightness and contrast. Picture quality could have been slightly sharper and richer, but considering that there's no flash, we were impressed that the image came out as bright as it did.

Some final personal information management tools and apps preloaded on the X3 Touch and Type include an alarm clock, a calculator, a voice recorder, a to-do list, a stopwatch, and Guitar Hero 5. Additional apps and games are available through the Ovi Store. The smartphone offers 50MB of internal memory, with a microSD expansion slot (accepts up to 16GB cards).

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Nokia X3 Touch and Type in New York using T-Mobile service, and call quality was OK. For the most part, the audio was clear on our end but at times, voices sounded muffled, so it was difficult to understand our caller. Meanwhile, friends were fairly complimentary of the sound quality. There were comments of some background noise, but nothing that interrupted the flow of conversation.

Speakerphone quality was quite impressive. Unlike a lot of other handsets, speakerphone calls didn't sound tinny; instead, voices sounded rich and there was plenty of volume to hear our callers even in noisier environments. We also had no problems pairing the handset with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

Over T-Mobile's EDGE network, CNET's full site loaded in 43 seconds, while CNN's and ESPN's mobile sites came up in 11 seconds and 10 seconds, respectively. YouTube videos took a few seconds to buffer but once loaded, the clips played back without interruption. Given the screen's small size, however, watching videos is a strain on the eyes.

In terms of general performance, don't expect the X3 to be a powerhouse. Though we never encountered any crippling problems, the smartphone was often sluggish, even with simple tasks like launching an app. The Nokia X3 Touch and Type comes with an 860mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 5 hours and up to 18 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, the X3 provided 11 hours of continuous talk time over EDGE.


Nokia X3 Touch and Type

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6