It's getting crowded in the smartphone segment, with more affordable smartphones being released. Users have also become increasingly sophisticated and demanding, expecting nothing short of the best. So how does the budget-priced, multimedia-oriented Nokia X3 rank in such a competitive market?
The Nokia X3 is available in two distinct color schemes: red/black and blue/silver. We got our hands on the former and we were duly impressed, at least on a superficial level. This slider phone comes across as classy and sturdy. The main body is predominantly covered by a matte, scratch-free black surface, accompanied with an aluminum-brushed body (visible from the back on sliding out) and keypad. It is small and light, fitting nicely into our palm.
Like its XpressMusic predecessors, three dedicated touch music keys are strategically placed on the left of the screen, giving easy access to your favorite tracks.
Another small but significant thing that we really liked about the phone was that given the sometimes frustrating experiences we encountered when opening battery covers, it is extremely fool-proof on the X3. Give it a light push from the top, and it slides out instantly and smoothly.
Both the Nokia X3 (and its higher end cousin, the Nokia X6) comes under the umbrella of the hugely popular XpressMusic, designed specially for music playback. Despite being positioned as a music phone, it only has an internal memory capacity of 46MB and up to 16GB memory with an optional microSD card. That means you'll definitely be needing a decent microSD card to keep your music collection in the X3.
The numeric keypad is too small and narrow for our liking, leading to more typos. We had to type gingerly using our finger tips since the buttons are not clearly articulated; the keypad is just a single flat panel divided into 12 areas.
Fortunately, the auditory experience makes up for that. Sound quality is bright and clear and can be accompanied - the choice is entirely up to you - with subtle music lights that blink according to the tempo. As for the camera, the 3.2MP Nokia X3 does reasonably well only under sunlight since it comes without flash. The quality is a little noisy but definitely sufficient for Twitter or Facebook.
The Nokia X3 runs on a Series 40 UI that is simple and user-friendly enough, but outdated by today's standards. You can personalize your home screen by choosing to display three main widgets. The shortcut bar at the top allows you to scroll through shortcuts which you can select, change or organize.
Thankfully, you can download apps from Nokia's Ovi Store easily. There's nothing really fanciful here and the S40 UI does a reasonable job of creating an intuitive navigation system.
As an entry-level phone, the Nokia X3 is indeed very affordable. However, its UI and features appeared to have suffered as a result (e.g., lack of 3G, small screen of 2.2" with 320 x 240 pixels). It just cannot compare to competing phones that have better overall capabilities and more storage.
Those who are looking for a good music phone and are willing to splurge, should look towards its mightier capacitive touch-screen cousin, the Nokia X6.