Nokia World 2010
The Nokia X3 Touch and Type is not a new phone, but it was the first time I had a chance to get hands on with this odd blend of numeric keypad on the bottom and touchscreen up top. The phone runs Nokia's Series 40 operating system. It may seem like Nokia's Symbian smartphones get all the glory, but in fact, Purnima Kochikar, Nokia's VP of Nokia Forum and Developer Community told the Nokia World crowd that the company shipped 364 million S40 smartphones last year. That's almost 1 million per day. The Nokia X3 Touch and Type is the first S40 phone with touch capabilities.
Thankfully, Nokia seems to have stuck to my number one rule when it comes to cheap touchscreens. Don't try to force inexpensive, resistive screens to do the same tricks as capacitive screens. Avoid swiping and gesture controls, and focus on hard taps. The Nokia X3 T&T enhances the basic Series 40 interface with large, touchable buttons on screen. It isn't a dramatic design overhaul. In fact, if you didn't know there was a touchscreen up top, you might not figure it out just by looking at the interface design.
The hardware itself makes for a very nice looking phone, in the vein of classic Nokia dumbphones. It's quite thin, and the brightly colored shell is brushed aluminum, not plastic, which gives the phone a solid feel. The keypad buttons are nicely spaced, and the phone is small enough that I could easily stretch a thumb to the screen from the keypad quickly, without adjusting my hand.
So, the design is clearly a gimmick, but its a nice gimmick, and Nokia doesn't take things too far. The touchscreen replaces the d-pad, that's about all. This way, if you can't quite make the down payment on a smartphone, you can still feel like you have a piece of modern hardware. At Nokia World, the company also launched the SDK for the touch and type feature on the Series 40 OS. That means new apps will start to roll out for this phone. It also portends more Series 40 phones with touch capabilities.