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Nokia 700 hands-on and first impressions

The Nokia 700 is a great mid-range handset – small and lightweight, but with an AMOLED display that punches above its weight, and the new Symbian Belle operating system that will feel familiar to anyone making the switch from Android. While a release date and handset cost haven’t been settled on yet, we were told that the 700 would be arriving “imminently” and that we could expect to see it on pay monthly tarifs of around £20-£30 per month.

The screen is cracking (figuratively speaking); a 3.2-inch AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass. Other manufacturers have been spoiling us with 4-and-a-bit-inch smartphones for the last couple of months that excel at video and mobile gaming, so if you’re after a purebred media phone this may not be your ideal handset, but for the odd snatch of HD video it looks crisp.

The back of the 700 is made from brushed aluminium, although without the reassuring heft it doesn’t feel as premium as the aluminium unibody designs found on HTC handsets. The camera shoots still at 5MP and records 720p video at 30fps.

Meanwhile on the front you get a VGA camera for video calling. Nothing about the cameras is going to blow your mind, especially when Nokia produces the best camera in a phone that money can buy (in the otherwise-disappointing N8), but for a mid-range phone it’s pretty standard.

The coolest multimedia feature we got to play with was the phone’s NFC technology. While the biggest use for this so far is for making mobile wallet payments, Nokia have combined the technology with NFC-enabled speakers and headphones so you can pipe your tunes directly to these devices. Simply hold the handset against the device and the 700 recognises the NFC chip, and with one press starts streaming music to it direct. Very futuristic, especially for a mid-range smartphone.

The 700 feels nippy to use, thanks to its 1GHz processor, and our very scientific testing procedure (two rounds of Fruit Ninja) bore this out – playing games and flicking through the home screens was pleasantly lag-free. We were also told that the 700 contains Nokia’s fastest browser yet, and it doesn’t disappoint. Pages loaded and resized quickly, and YouTube videos played without a hitch.

The only let-down was the buzzing haptic response to touches. While it’s a feature we’re fans of on, say, the Samsung Galaxy S2, it feels odd on the Nokia 700, like the handset is rattling rather than buzzing – decidedly un-premium. We’d turn it off altogether.