We had reviewed the X3-02's predecessor, the X3, earlier this year, and like the older device, the new phone comes with a strong emphasis on its music player, but with an added twist: a mobile experience centered around both touchscreen and keypad. This concept, called 'Touch and Type' isn't exactly new, but does it successfully refresh the X3 series?
The X3-02 isn't what one would call a head turner, but it is definitely compact, with a degree of style. An extremely thin candybar phone, this Touch and Type is small enough to fit snugly in one's palm. Strangely, the phone is slightly wider at the top, giving the device a lopsided appearance. Nonetheless, the copy we were testing came in a nice shade of black, with a sturdy layer of aluminum finish.
While we liked that the phone is small and handy, we didn't like the fact that the physical buttons on the side, especially the volume and lock button, are too thin and hard to press. The phone's design however is familiar and reminiscent of older Nokia phones. The phone also features dedicated messaging keys: there are physical shortcut buttons in between the dial and end call functions that allow users to easily assess both messaging and music functions.
Like the X3, the Touch and Type comes with the Series 40 UI, a simple and user-friendly interface that feels outdated by today's standards. The lack of apps is definitely a hindrance for those comparing the OS to others in the market, but overall, the interface works well for someone who is just looking for a simple mobile solution. Since the miniscule home screen can only hold a certain number of shortcuts, you have to rely on the 'Go To' option, where you can find another nine app shortcuts, of which you can mix-and-match accordingly. You can also implement changes to the home screen layout and shortcuts here.
Navigating through the touchscreen can sometimes be unresponsive. The keypad buttons are too flat and stiff for comfortable typing, and we struggled to have a comfortable messaging experience. Browsing on a 2.4-inch screen isn't exactly the optimal settings for surfing, but besides that, we found that it was smooth and quite speedy.
Fortunately, the sound quality here is adequate with bright and clear audio that exhibits good bass control. The 5-megapixel camera showed reasonable quality with little noise spotted. The only downside is that it is neither equipped with auto-focus nor flash capabilities. On the bright side, the touch menu for the camera is quite intuitive and makes for easy customization.
The problem with this phone is that both its touchscreen and keypad experience suffer due to its physical size, especially with its 2.4-inch display. This is further aggravated by the fact that the Series 40 user interface is not specifically made for touchscreen navigation (to add on, it is severely handicapped and limited by its lack of apps in the Ovi store). Other complaints include a numeric keypad that is not as effective at messaging or emails as its more functional QWERTY keyboard cousin and a camera that cannot auto-focus.
On the bright side, this Bluetooth, 3G and WiFi enabled phone is extremely affordable at $295 if you are looking for a simple phone just for its music and FM radio features. Otherwise, like the X3, the phone pales in comparison to more compelling phones out there which can do more and better.