Like a summer festival or X Factor contestant out to impress Simon Cowell, Nokia's X series is all about the music. The X2 is the latest in the line-up, rocking a candybar design and straightforward numerical keypad, as well as dedicated hard keys for quickly accessing the aural delights stashed inside. You can pick it up for £109 SIM-free, pay £89.99 for it on pay as you go, or land it for just £10 a month on a two-year Vodafone contract.
Sound of music
The Nokia X series was born out of the ashes of the XpressMusic line, and the X2 is the phone that most resembles a blower from that old-school range. From its candybar form to its hard music keys and uninspiring colour schemes, it's hard to tell this phone is a member of the newer X series clan.
But that it most certainly is. The key focus here, as with all X series cells, is music. While there's no internal storage to write home about (a mere 48MB to be precise), there's microSD support for cards up to 16GB, meaning the X2 can handle around 4,000 average MP3s. The music software itself is no different to that on any other device running Symbian S40. Navigating albums, playlists and artists is breezy and the wide format support, which includes AAC and WMA, means you can load the X2 up with tracks from iTunes as well as other download stores.
What's meant to set the X2, and other X series phones, apart from their Nokia siblings are the dedicated music keys, which sit flush down the left-hand side of the device. It has to be said that it's not the easiest task to figure out which button does what, just by looking at them at least. The middle key handles play/pause, while the top button skips tracks forward and the bottom ones pushes tracks back. They're definitely handy if you just want to slip through tunes while tapping out a text or zipping round the Web, but using the standard navigation button to get around tracks when in the music player itself is much easier. If anything, the hard keys feels like a regression from the older XpressMusic phones. They were much more obvious and sat on much slimmer, sleeker devices.
By and large, the Symbian S40 user interface is implemented well on the X2. There's direct access to a (rather average) Facebook app, as well as the chance to dive straight into the radio and music player apps. Pleasingly, Ovi Store is available from the front page, too, bringing a slew of cool add-ons to the bargain end of the market. That certainly adds to the X2's appeal and makes it a phone well worth investigating for app-savvy but budget-conscious punters.
Accessing the main menu is a tad awkward, however, requiring you to find your way to the top of the front page's menu before hitting the central nav key. It's a quirk suffered by all S40 phones and really does prove infuriating after repeated trips into the wrong menu system. The home screen is crammed with goodies, but it certainly feels cramped at times. This is more the fault of Symbian than the X2, although the low-resolution 320x240-pixel, 56mm (2.2-inch) screen could be a smidge brighter. It doesn't render icons particularly well.
The X2 isn't spectacular but, for a plasticky phone, it does feel remarkably solid. It certainly feels thicker than its 13.3mm, but the tapered edges and rounded back mean it sits well in the hand. Likewise, the numerical keyboard feels secure despite the buttons sitting flush with the device, which is normally a recipe for disaster. They keypad is not quite the same standard as those on the ace C series, but we found getting up to speed with it took a matter of minutes.
The X2's camera is a real stand-out, especially when you take into account the price. At 5 megapixels and with an LED flash, it's every bit as classy as similarly priced, low-end Android efforts such as the HTC Wildfire. It takes crisp and clean shots, even in low light, and although there aren't any varying shooting modes (other than changing colours and tints), it's ideal for taking quick shots for shoving straight onto Facebook or Twitter.
One major letdown, however, is the lack of 3G. This doesn't impact so much on email performance, but it means getting online is akin to using the Web way back in 1999: sluggish and utterly infuriating. Why Nokia insists on dropping this vital technology while loading up Web-reliant services such as Ovi remains a mystery.
The Nokia X2 is a serviceable handset with plenty to recommend. It certainly won't leave an iPhone-sized dent in your bank balance, either. On the flip side, Symbian S40 is an acquired taste and the failure to include 3G is hard to overlook.
Edited by Emma Bayly