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Nokia 700 review: Nokia 700

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Typical Price: £260.00
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The Good Small and slim design; sturdy construction; bright, clear screen; simple operation of basic tasks.

The Bad Awkward keyboard; Nokia apps store offers meagre selection; Email setup is difficult.

The Bottom Line The Nokia 700 packs a decent screen into a compact and sturdy body. Its Symbian Belle software will appeal to those after a simple interface, but not those who love a well-stocked app store or who like to write long messages.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.5 Overall

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The Nokia 700 hopes to make small mobiles cool again by offering smart phone functionality in a seriously compact body. It runs the latest version of Nokia's Symbian operating system, Belle, which delivers various interface improvements.

The Nokia 700 is available now for around £260 SIM-free, or free on a contract of between £20 and £30 per month.

Symbian Belle

Although there's been much talk of Nokia slapping Windows Phone on its new handsets, the 700 runs the latest version of Symbian, Belle.

Belle gives you up to six home screens that you can personalise to your heart's content with apps and widgets, which show live information. For example, if you slap a Facebook widget on your home screen, it will update with all your friends' statuses, so you need never be out of the loop about what they think of the latest X Factor finalists.

Nokia 700 home screens
A couple of the home screens. You can move those icons where you like.

There aren't a massive amount of widgets available -- it's mainly a selection of clocks, calendars and media icons, but it's handy to be given the option for a bit of customisation. We installed the BBC iPlayer widget, which seemed pretty useful, although all it really did was open up the iPlayer page in a Web browser. There's a decent selection of built-in wallpapers though, which makes things look pretty.

Sadly, once you navigate away from the home screens, things get fairly dull. The app menu is just a long list of all the available apps, requiring you to scroll continually through. Finding a picture or song means navigating into the file system, which is an archaic list of various folders that are all too easy to get lost in. It's a real shame more thought hasn't been put into these areas to make things a little easier for new Symbian users.

Nokia 700 file system
The file system is exactly as awkward as it looks.

Belle also supports near-field communications (NFC) which means that the 700 can connect with devices by being tapped on them, much like an Oyster card. In our demo, we saw the phone pair with an NFC-compatible Bluetooth speaker set with only one quick touch.

Payments using NFC are slowly on their way to Britain's stores, so, eventually, you'll be able to tap your phone on a reader at the till to instantly make a payment without handing over any cash. Such technology isn't widespread yet, though, so NFC's usefulness is pretty limited for the time being.

Symbian Belle is pretty good-looking and reminded us quite strongly of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. If you're familiar with Android, it won't take too long to get used to Symbian. The five home screens are backed up by a quick-access app window that shows all available apps on the phone.

There's also a handy notifications centre that you can pull down from the top of the screen, showing new messages and other app notifications. It's similar to the one found in Android and almost identical to the one in Apple's new iOS 5.

If you're more familiar with the iPhone, you won't have such an easy time of things -- searching through app screens to find settings, for example, was a hassle which wasn't made any easier by the phone's small screen.

With Symbian Belle, you get full access to the Nokia Ovi apps store. You can get your essentials like Facebook, Twitter, Ovi Maps and the ubiquitous Angry Birds, but it's nowhere near as well stocked as the Apple App Store or the Android Market, so, if you have an insatiable appetite for apps, then you'd be right to be a little apprehensive. Okay, we'll stop with the app puns -- they're appalling.

Nokia 700 Ovi store
The Nokia store has clean interface but sadly doesn't have much in it.

It's pretty easy to navigate though which is refreshing. The interface is simple, with only a few tabs at the top for categories, search or account details. Pages of apps in each category are sorted by 'Free', 'Best sellers' and 'New' making it simple to see exactly what's on offer -- it's just a shame that there's not much there.

Difficult keyboard

The on-screen Qwerty keyboard is the same as that shown off in Symbian Anna. With the phone held in portrait mode, the keys are so small you'd need fingers like needles to comfortably type more than a quick 'ZOMG' to your friend.

Nokia 700 portrait keyboard
You'll need fingers like needles to type properly in portrait mode.

It's better in landscape mode but even so, the screen is so small that it's very difficult to type accurately at speed. If you slow things down and really concentrate you can write without making too many errors but if you've got big thumbs -- or you're drunk -- then it's likely you'll end up with a nonsense string of letters. It's nigh on impossible to quickly send a reply to a text when you're walking.

It's a responsive screen though, which helps, and it has quite a strong -- although slightly strange feeling -- vibration when you press an on-screen key (known as haptic feedback). Every time a letter is pressed, it feels as though a small animal has shivered inside your phone. We tried to see what animal this was, but the phone is sealed up so we never found out. The slight vibration helps you type by letting you know precisely when a key has been pressed.

Nokia 700 landscape keyboard
The keyboard is slightly easier to use in landscape, but it's still pretty awkward.

Email woes

We're busy folk here at CNET UK, so having proper access to email is a must. Sadly the Nokia 700 didn't seem to want to co-operate as we'd have liked. Opening up the email app, we were met with an option to link only an Outlook email account, which we don't use. So far, so annoying.

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