The Nokia 700 is the first handset packing the new Symbian Belle operating system update, it is also the smallest smartphone that Nokia has ever produced, as well as being the fastest.
The 700 has a lot to boast about then, but is Symbian enough to put people off or does the latest attempt by Nokia make an all but dead operating system worth taking a look at?
From our rather lengthy play with the Nokia 700 we have to say the short answer is, in fact, yes. In ditching 70 per cent of all code in the previous 3.2 version of Symbian, the operating system is now a lot lighter and therefore a lot more responsive. All that nasty lag and unresponsiveness found on the N8 has gone and things feel as smooth as the rest of the smartphone competition.
This is then backed up by the 700's 3.2-inch 640 x 360 clear black display, which is sharp as anything and boasts impressive viewing angles. It is also nice and contrasty with much deeper blacks than anything we have seen previously from Nokia. The slightly squished approach the display takes might not be for everyone, but it definitely keeps the handset's size down. We hope that Nokia ports this screen technology onto whatever Windows Phone 7 treats it has in store, it will make the tiles of the Metro UI look better than ever.
The small 55-ccm 700 fits nicely in the hand and adheres to Nokia's usual decent build quality. This means a nice aluminium back plate and high quality plastics which stop the phone from feeling overly budget. Nokia has also gone all eco-warrior on the 700, bringing in things like Bio paint and an entirely PVC free body. For those with a bit of a green conscience, 60 per cent of the phone can be recycled.
The 5-megapixel snapper stuck on the back with LED flash was slightly disappointing for Nokia, as it has a tradition of including very high quality cameras on its phones. Whilst there was nothing particularly wrong with it, images weren't as sharp as some of the premium Nokia handsets or similarly specced competition, then again it definitely outdoes handsets like the Wildfire S in the video department.
We did find that the small size and colour schemes of the Nokia 700, especially the split speaker, weren't all to our taste. The all black version of the handset looked slick as anything, but the white and purple phones felt nowhere near as premium. Then again the purple was a lot more fun and Nokia plans on releasing the phone in a variety of different colours, presumably one which will satisfy each style.
The NFC implementation in the Nokia 700 is particularly impressive, acting like rapid Bluetooth pairing for various Nokia devices. Say for example you want to start sending audio through a Nokia speaker, then you just tap the phone onto the top of the device and playback will immediately switch. Contacts and photos can also be shared, bump-style, between phones.
The speedy 1GHz processor in the Nokia 700 means that Symbian Belle can get away with a few more Android-style tricks, like a drop down notifications bar and more formidable widgets. The inclusion of a 32mb dedicated graphics allocation also means more complex games and apps can be left to run. It has also sped the browser up, although this is helped in part by a significant code re-write on the Symbian browser front. We found things like Flash and pinch to zoom were fast enough online, as were web pages, which loaded remarkably quickly.
When compared against other mid-range smartphones like the Wildfire S or Samsung Galaxy Wave family, the Nokia 700 performs well. It has a decent screen, is speedy enough and is well built. The problem is that we can't help but feel it would make a killer value for money Windows Phone 7 handset, rather than a Symbian outing that could very easily get forgotten about. It reminds us slightly of the N9, where Nokia totally nailed the hardware but then stuck in an OS that people are no longer interested in. Roll on Nokia Windows Phone 7 we say, with handsets being built like this we can't see how it won't succeed.
Like the look of the Nokia 700? Let us know why in the comments below ...