With a shiny silver appearance, external LCD and clamshell design, the X700 is similar in style to its predecessor, the X70. The external display supports 4,096 colours and displays an analogue clock or screensaver while idling. Above this on the front of the handset is the loudspeaker, camera, flash and infrared port. The only gripe we have with the design is the external antenna; we much prefer flip phones with built-in antennas, such as Nokia's fashionable 7270 and the still-sexy Motorola V3.
Opening the flip reveals a magnificent 65,536-colour LCD and a blue backlit keypad designed with the Symbian operating system in mind. Alongside the standard numeric pad, call and end combo are two shortcut keys, a circular four-way navigation pad with a selection button in the middle. There are dedicated keys for menu, an xHTML browser and an edit key found on most Symbian smart phones. The silver keys are flat and spread out well, making text messaging a breeze.
Running the Symbian operating system, the X700 smart phone comes with a suite of applications pre-loaded and allows you to install additional applications yourself.
Video playback is through the RealOne Player and we found six sample 3GP video files on the X700. The length of recorded video is dependant only on the amount of memory remaining. Alternatively, you can change the settings for video length to "Limited" for short clips suitable to send via MMS. Panasonic provides a 16MB miniSD card in the box as well as a full-sized SD card adapter.
An application called QuickOffice lets you create, edit and save basic Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents. It's a basic suite where you can change fonts, colour and alignment of text but not much else.
A handy feature of the X700 is the integrated flash next to the camera. Besides illuminating for night photos, you can switch the light and use it as a torch through the Tools menu. Other tools include a calculator, notepad, voice recorder, to-do list and a full-featured unit converter -- currency, time, length, temperature, power and velocity, to name a few.
Games include the addictive MicroGolf and a game called Balloon-Headed Boy that, much to our disappointment with such a quirky name, wouldn't open on our review model.
Bundled on a CD is Panasonic's PC Suite software that allows you to backup and restore the X700's data, including ring tones, videos, pictures, applications and settings. Files can also be wirelessly transferred over Bluetooth, infrared and MMS or via the supplied USB cable directly to a PC. The X700 can synchronise contacts and calendar information with Microsoft and Lotus applications and download photos taken with the camera.
Even though the X700's camera is only VGA (640 x 480 pixels), we are impressed with the quality of the shots and the capabilities of the flash.
If we were to fault the X700 it would be for the relatively slow menu. Perhaps due to an average processor, we found the handset struggled to keep up with our navigation -- pausing for a couple of seconds as we moved in and out of functions and taking as much as 30 seconds to open a game.
We found 20 ring tones on the X700 that can be set as ring tones or message alerts. Impressively, they aren't the assortment of plain tones typically found on mid-range mobiles but interesting 40-chord polyphonic tones. They will probably appeal more to the younger generation -- or perhaps the outgoing older crowd -- with titles such as clubbing, roof party and tequila latina.
Battery life is about average for a phone with dual-screens and a display as vibrant as the X700's. We averaged about 2-3 days of regular usage between charges.
One final (light-hearted) warning: beware the miniSD can shoot out when you remove it. We love the fact it the card is hot-swappable (i.e. you can remove it from a slot beside the external antenna while the phone is on) but any small projectile that can fly out of a phone with enough velocity to send it soaring two metres across the CNET.com.au office could potentially cause an embarrassing injury. It gives a whole new meaning to flash memory, though.