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You know things are really moving fast in the cell phone world when even the prepaid phones are sporting full keyboards. They haven't taken over the space completely, but handsets built for texting are slowly gaining dominance on the budget side of the market. Take, for instance, Nokia's X2 for T-Mobile. Though it is light on high-end features, it offers just about everything you need for a messaging life. You also get a full HTML browser, though it's not worth the trouble given the slow EDGE network and the low-resolution display. Yet, if you're looking for a well-constructed, easy-to-use handset that makes good calls, then the X2 delivers the goods.
"Boring" is a word that accurately describes the X2, but that's not a bad thing. Indeed, not every cell phone needs to have a striking design, especially those that are built with communication in mind. With its boxy shape and slightly curved bottom, the X2 looks a bit like the Samsung BlackJack series, albeit with a different navigation array. At 4.7 inches long by 2.35 inches wide by 0.56 inch deep, the X2 is relatively slim and compact for its class. It slips easily into a pocket and it won't weigh you down (3.79 ounces).
As for durability, the X2 shows Nokia's usual design chops. The handset has a solid, comfortable feel in the hand and the keyboard is quite good given the X2's price. The domed keys offer an ergonomic typing experience, and the arrangement should be spacious enough for most users. Numbers do share space with letters on some keys, while other letter buttons double up with common punctuation. You'll also find a dedicated Symbol and Control keys and a large and convenient spacebar.
The navigation array is huge. In the center is a raised four-way toggle with a recessed OK button. The toggle is easy to use, and you can set the toggle as a shortcut to four user-defined features. Surrounding the toggle are two soft keys, shortcuts to the Web browser and messaging app, and the Talk and End/Power keys. Though this last set of controls also is large, they feel slick and a tad cheap. We don't anticipate long-term issues, but you do notice a change from the keyboard.
The QVGA display measures 2.4 inches and supports 262,000 colors (320x240 pixels). Though that's not a bad resolution for a messaging phone, it doesn't do justice to the Web browser or graphics. You can see the pixelation and most colors look relatively flat. Also, keep in mind that it's not a touch screen. After using so many smartphones we instinctively tried pecking at the display the first time we picked up the X2. Fortunately, the Series 40 menus have a simple design, and you can access some applications directly from the home screen.
On the top of the X2 are a 3.5-millimeter headset jack and the charger port. We were hoping for a standard Micro-USB charger, but Nokia used its longtime 2mm connection on the X2. On the left side are a Micro-USB port for syncing and a microSD card slot. You won't see a volume rocker, which means you'll have to change the sound level using the navigation toggle when you're on a call. The camera lens sits on the rear side next to a small speaker.
As mentioned, the X2's features center on messaging with a couple of extras thrown in. We'll start with the basics first. The X2 has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, a street address, a birthday, a nickname, and notes. As always, you can save callers to groups and pair them with a photo or video and one of 33 polyphonic ringtones. Alternatively, you can use your own audio recordings as ringtones. And if you're really popular, you can store an additional 250 names on the SIM card.
Organizer options include a world clock, a calendar, a calculator, a unit and currency converter, a to-do list, a notepad, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch. You'll also find a voice recorder, PC syncing, stereo Bluetooth, a My Nokia app for messages and service support, and a Community portal that can deliver Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Nokia X2 supports threaded text messaging and multimedia messaging. Yet the X2 doesn't stop there. The handset also offers access to most POP3 and IMAP4 services, instant messaging for the major platforms, and a dedicated portal for T-Mobile e-mail. Keep in mind that e-mail and instant messaging come through a Web interface rather than dedicated apps. The experience can be tedious and frustrating at times, but the options are there if you want them.
The camera takes pictures in two resolutions (640x480 pixels and 320x240 pixels). That's minimal even for a VGA shooter, and you don't get a lot of editing options, either. You'll find only a self-timer, a 4x digital zoom, three color effects, and three white-balance options. Despite the few offerings, however, photo quality is decent.
The camera also records video, which we weren't expecting. You can choose from two resolutions (320x240 pixels and 176x144 pixels) and the same set of editing options you'll find for the still camera. Clips shot for multimedia messages are limited to 6 seconds, but you can record longer in standard mode. The X2 has about 46MB of internal memory for storing files. If you need more space, the external memory slot supports cards up to 8GB.
We also were surprised to see the music player on X2. The interface is beyond basic--and don't expect miracles from the X2's sole speaker--but you can organize music into playlists and activate shuffle and repeat modes. What's more, the X2 also offers stereo widening, a flight mode, and an equalizer. The handset also has an FM radio, though you'll need to use the included wired headset as an antenna.
When we first heard about the X2 we welcomed the HTML browser. But now that we've had the opportunity to play with it, we aren't so thrilled. The thing is that if you're going to put a full browser in a phone, you need to build a phone to support it. And while the X2 is a solid device that's well-suited for messaging, it's not built for browsing. Not only is the screen resolution too low, as mentioned above, but the navigation is way too clunky without a touch screen. What's more, Web pages load much too slowly over an EDGE network.
The X2 offers the standard set of options for customizing the screen. You can also get more choices and additional ringtones from T-Mobile. The handset also comes with demo versions of seven games: Block'd, Bounce Tales, Diamond Rush, Where's Waldo in Hollywood?, Guitar Hero, Monopoly Here & Now, and Sudoku.
On their end, callers said we sounded good. They could tell that we were using a cell phone, but they didn't report significant issues beyond the hum that we heard. Both parties had more trouble hearing in noisy places; the microphone in particular has a sweet spot. Speakerphone calls weren't the best, unfortunately. The sound gets loud enough, but audio cut out continually. We still could make a call, but just barely.
The X2 has a rated battery life of 4.5 hours and a promised standby time of 21 days. Our tests revealed that it has a talk time of 6 hours and 20 minutes. According to FCC tests the X2 has a maximum digital SAR of 1.16 watts per kilogram.
In a country where Nokia phones are becoming rare, the X2 offers everything you'd expect from a Nokia phone. The design is sturdy, the interface is easy to use, and call quality is acceptable. No, it doesn't offer the most high-end features, but it has enough surprises to keep you entertained. And for a low-end model, the full keyboard and messaging options are more than welcome.
We have tried it on all local networks (Telecel, Netone and Econet) and guess what! It works perfectly. It is also compatible with various Messaging platforms like
The X2 is very affordable at just an estimated price of $90 in Zimbabwe.