Nokia's phones have a reputation for being better at making calls than the average smartphone, and the Nokia 700 is no different. On its back is a microphone, just below the battery cover, that monitors ambient noise. This is then used to provide noise cancellation, filtering out noise of traffic and so on by the time it reaches whoever you're calling. It's fairly rare to find this kind of cancellation in a reasonably affordable phone.
Call quality is good too, if not astounding. It could do with a little more treble presence, sounding a little boxy, but max volume is good and voices are given plenty of body.
Over the period of testing, the 1080mAh battery lasted significantly longer than a rival mid-range Android would. Abuse the battery with high-powered games, video playback and plenty of 3G mobile internet browsing and you'll still only get a day out of it, but with more relaxed use you should be able to squeeze out a solid two. As it uses an AMOLED screen, slapping a mostly black wallpaper on the 700's home screens will save you a bit of juice too.
It's clear that Nokia has tried pretty hard with the 700. The screen and build quality are great, and its initial operator pricing on contract makes it a pretty attractive option. That you can get a phone with this hardware for £15 a month is really quite amazing. However, as a SIM-free proposition it's less attractive - matched by competent Androids like the HTC Salsa and the original HTC Desire.
The Belle upgrade to Symbian^3 has lessened several of the operating system's issues, making it feel less ancient and look a lot less ugly. In fact this and other recent updates to Symbian have highlighted just how capable an OS it is, and we really wonder if the whole decision to ditch it for high end handsets and go with Windows Phone 7 was the best one. Obviously this particular phone doesn't compete with the biggest and best from the competition but increase the screen size and slap the camera from the N8 on it and you'd have a good start. Nevertheless there are other problems. While the big launch of the Nokia N8 has ensured a few handfuls of impressive 3D games for the Nokia 700, beyond this apps and games support is pretty poor. And very poor compared with iOS and Android. We recommend taking a look at the line-up before buying, to make sure you'll be able to do everything you want to with this handset.
With a top-quality Gorilla Glass screen and part-metal build, the Nokia 700 instantly feels like a top-quality device. The display carries this on too, using a great AMOLED panel. Sure, it's a smaller phone than many but hardware wise it almost seems surprising how you can get this handset for free on contracts well under £20 a month. However, all becomes clear when using the phone as it's limited by the constraints of Symbian. The new Belle update significantly ups the aesthetic ante, with the system now looking a lot better than it ever has before, but looks alone can't cover up the relative lack of apps. There are thousands, but the hit rate is even worse than it is on Android. This is one of the most desirable Nokias in quite some time, but buying it comes with a compromise or two.