Despite using resistive touch sensing the screen is reasonably responsive, so you can just about get by. It isn’t, however, a patch on the best screens out there, not least because it has no multitouch abilities like pinch-to-zoom.
Visually, the LCD screen fairs much better thanks to strong colours, good viewing angles, decent overall brightness, and ample contrast. It doesn’t have quite the impact that Samsung’s OLED screens and the iPhone 4’s LCD screen does, but it’s perfectly adequate. Its 3.2in size is also a good compromise between fitting enough on screen and keeping the phone a sensible size. That said, it is a little tall and narrow, which can make browsing the web and looking at large documents a tad tedious. At least the 360 x 640 resolution ensures everything likes nice and sharp.
On the software side of things, we see an improved version of Symbian – specifically S60 rel 5 – which has a few additions that make it considerably easier to use than previous Symbian versions.
The most important addition is that of proper scrolling. On previous Symbian devices you had to either pinpoint the scroll bar and push and pull it up and down or place your finger on the centre of the screen and push the highlighted zone upwards to scroll upwards and downwards to scroll down – as though you were using arrow keys to move through the items in a list and as you get to the top the page scrolls up a bit. Yes, it really was that clunky.
On this version, though, we finally have scrolling like that on just about every other mobile OS. Just place your finger anywhere onscreen and flick upwards to scroll upwards or downwards to go down. The scroll bar has also been kept, if you like that sort of thing.
The home screen allows you to add up to six widgets, which are things like an RSS feed, a Facebook feed, strips of shortcuts, and a stock ticker. You can choose to show or hide the widgets with a left or right swipe of a finger, but you can’t add multiple screens as you can on the iPhone and Android phones.
Visually the OS is very similar to previous versions. As such it’s still rather bland and blocky looking and still lacks any of the smooth transitions and animations that make iOS and WebOS in particular such a joy to use. For instance, menu items and programs just appear, often with a white screen flashing inbetween, rather than gliding onto the screen. There are a few improvements like the homescreen, which now has translucent icons allowing you to see the image behind, which can be a slide show. Some corners have also been rounded off and icons tweaked. For the most part, though, it still looks and feels like an OS from yesteryear.