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GLOBAL – As we announced yesterday morning, the Nokia X7 will soon be released into the wild and you’ll be able to play with this new entertainment device yourself. Until that happens, we thought we’d let you know how the device works, out of the box, so to speak. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had hands-on with a prototype unit for the past day or so, and here are my first impressions.

The first thing I noticed about the Nokia X7 is the design and size. It’s a larger phone than the N8 I’m used to, as it has a 4-inch touchscreen (made from toughened glass) and the corners of the phone are uniquely shaped, as they taper off to give an angular look. It’s something different to the usual rounded edges we’re used to seeing from Nokia and other smartphone vendors. The next thing to come to my attention is that the entire front of the phone is covered by one piece of glass, giving it an extremely glossy look.

Not only does the Nokia X7 have those chamfered edges looking at it from the front, but viewing it from the top or bottom, you can clearly see the edges of the phone are significantly slimmer than the middle, allowing for a nice snug fit in the hand that feels solid.

Powering on the device, I was greeted by the welcome screen which asked me to input my Ovi account details – alternatively, it gives you the chance to sign up if you’ve not already signed up – which makes using the Ovi services quicker and easier from the get-go. Set up complete, the homescreen now reveals the first glimpse of the new Symbian Anna.

The new UI is more than just a collection of colourful icons, although that is the first thing that springs into view as it’s a improvement from the older ones. It also brings new updates to the browser, text input and a bunch of other features too. All of which are described here.

The layout is still the same as any other new Symbian device. The three homescreens allow me to add some personalisation for different occasions, and the swiping movement from left to right changes between those screens, just like before. But it seems to do a better job at it. I can now drag my finger across the screen, stop half way through holding my finger in the position and the screen will respond accordingly, showing two halves or two screens. Now, we’re not saying this is particularly useful but it’s a good example of how the movement and transitions have been improved in this new version. The whole experience is smoother and more fluid.

Locking the screen is different too, as until now there’s been a little key on the side of the phone that does that job. Now, however, the power button on the top of the phone is pressed once to lock the screen and pressing the menu key or the power button again will show you the Unlock icon on the screen that’s waiting to be pressed to bring the phone into life again.

Most of my communications to the outside world mainly involves emailing or sending an SMS, so the new text input method on the Nokia X7 works really well. The new Qwerty split screen keyboard works in portrait mode, which means I can reply to a message and still see the original email or SMS in the background. Quite handy if you’ve got a memory like mine and need to keep reminding yourself of what you’re actually replying to.

So, my first 24 hours with the Nokia X7 have been enjoyable and I’ve had a little time to play some games and test the 8-megapixel camera too. Here’s a couple of shots I took yesterday:

I’ll be testing this some more over the next couple of days and will share the experience with you in a later post.

What do you think of the Nokia X7 so far? Is there anything you want me to test for you? Let me know, in the comments below.

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