Nokia X3 review

Reviews Editor 17:04, 19 Feb 2010

We review the Nokia X3, a budget Nokia music device

If you like the idea of the Nokia X6 but think that prices of £449 SIM free for the 32GB Comes With Music Edition and £299 SIM free for the 16GB version are on the steep side, then you might want to give the £129 SIM free X3 a second glance. The price is a very clear indication that this handset plays, er, second fiddle to the X6, but it might offer all the musicality you need.

There are some nifty features for music fans. Arguably the most important of these is a 3.5mm headset jack sitting on the top edge of the chassis. This is the ideal location for a headset jack, as it minimises the chances of pocket snagging when your headset is attached.

The provided headset is a somewhat chunky affair with industrial strength cabling – perhaps to help the earphones last longer than usual as they are squished in your pocket rather than neatly wound. The rounded in-ear buds are a snug fit, and the sound quality is good enough for everyday use. Still, we’d have preferred a two-piece headset so we could use our favourite, high quality earphones to bump up the sound output quality that little bit further.

There is an equaliser which has a just a few presets. At least they have a noticeable effect on sound output and you can save two personal presets.  

The X3 sports three front buttons for playback control. These sit down the left side of the screen. They are quite neat looking, though we’d have liked the right side to have three shortcuts too – maybe user programmable, rather than a simple filler strip. We aren’t convinced about the ‘music light’ either. This is basically a pulsing white light that sits in the large D-pad when music is playing. We turned the feature off.

There is an FM radio and you can use the music controls to manage this too, flipping through stations easily. The radio has RDS support and there are 20 presets. You can use the radio without having the headset plugged in as its antenna is internal.

There isn’t a great deal of built in memory for storing music – there was just under 14MB free on our review sample right out of the box. The X3 supports microSD cards, with the slot on the left edge of the casing under a solid protective cover. You get a 2GB card with the phone. Clearly if you are a music fan you are going to want to boost this by purchasing a higher capacity card, and Nokia says the X3 supports cards to 16GB.

Physically this is a fairly nice handset. It is a slider, measuring 96mm tall x 49.3mm wide and 14.1mm thick with the slide closed, growing to just over 120mm with the slide open. The slide mechanism is smooth and delivers a good ‘clunk’ in both opening and closing the phone. The keyboard is flat with dividers between the keys so that you can find what you want fairly easily. It might not suit speed-texters, but the rest of us should find it OK.

Build quality is average, with plastic used throughout. The red and black colour scheme of our review sample was OK but not especially innovative. You can get a blue/black alternative.

The screen is fairly small at just 2.2-inches, and its 320 x 240 pixels are very much entry level these days. There’s nothing wrong with it in terms of brightness or clarity, but if you want to do media rich stuff like Web browsing, you might want to look elsewhere.

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