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Review: Nokia C7 Astound

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Menus Calls/Contacts Messaging  

You know the deal here. It's a smartphone, messaging should come naturally, right?

There is a POP3/IMAP4 email client on board to handle Yahoo, Gmail and other consumer email systems. There is also an Exchange email program for business users. I was unable to get the Exchange app to work with Gmail, but the IMAP4 version of Gmail worked just fine once I entered my credentials.

The Astound was able to retrieve email consistently and easily. Emails can be sorted via date, sender, subject in the inbox via software tabs at the top. These same tabs let you jump between email folders. The Astound is capable of displaying HTML emails without trouble, and cleaning out your inbox isn't painful by any means.

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But dang is it ugly. The email composition screen looks awful. And it is slow. Android, WP7, and iOS all do a much, much better job with email.

The SMS/MMS has been improved with better inboxes and threaded messaging. Text conversations appear in bubbles, and images appear in-line with the text. Frustratingly, if you want threaded messaging, you have to choose the "Conversations" inbox. The regular "Inbox" shows only in-line texts as they come. Every other smartphone platform does a better job of threaded text messaging.

Instant Messaging is nowhere to be found. Nor was I able to find anything suitable for AIM, GTalk, Windows Live or Yahoo in the Ovi Store.

The Astound offers a big improvement when it comes to social networking (especially over the N8). It has the Nokia-made Social Networking app on board, and it works with Facebook and Twitter. Rather than just offering simple account/feed access, this app offers a much broader set of tools for interacting with your social networks. For example, it is much easier to respond to @replies and Twitter DMs, as well as control your Facebook wall, add photos and more. This app still doesn't offer as much power as the full apps for Android, WP7 and iOS, but it has caught up a lot.

As for the software keyboards, they are both "usable" in portrait and landscape modes, but the portrait version is best left to the smallest fingers. My thumbs had real trouble with it. Also, the word prediction is inferior (again) to competing platforms when using the native keyboard.

Thankfully, Swype is preinstalled. It needs to be activated, but once you turn it on, composing messages with the software keyboards is much better.


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