The most exciting thing about the C7 is brand new firmware. It's custom firmware for T-Mobile that's "almost" PR 2.0 in that it has most of the features of of the much anticipated PR 2.0 firmware for Symbian^3.
The Nokia reps I've spoken to insist that the new firmware isn't PR 2.0. But it has many PR 2.0 features including the new browser, split screen keyboards, portrait QWERTY, smoother homescreen transitions and new email and social apps.
The browser is version 188.8.131.52 and is a complete rewrite that fixes most of the pain points with the Symbian browser. Highlights for me are:
- Multiple window support. You can open a new empty window from the Window menu or open a link in a new window with a long press.
- The on screen back button and reload/stop buttons are always available rather than hiding behind the menu button.
- URL auto completion.
- No more tiny, thin fonts. The minimum font size seems to have been increased slightly and the smaller fonts are bolder and much more readable.
The email app has also received a major redesign. Changes I saw are:
- In the list of emails unread ones are displayed in bold rather than by an unopened envelope icon.
- Messages download and display much faster
- Improved fonts as in the browser.
- The broken images bug where images would not be displayed in subsequent messages after reading a few image-rich HTML emails seems to be fixed.
But the biggest differences is that using Mail for Exchange with Gmail is now fully supported. The annoying "Security policy that allows downloading HTML messages is disabled" error message is gone and sending and replying works. So far I've found the MfE, Gmail combination, which provides true push email, to be reliable and fast.
Hardware wise, the C7 is one of those devices that's much nicer in the flesh than it looks in press photos. The materials are top notch with a metal battery cover and a wide metal bezel around the glass screen. The 8MB EDOF camera seems identical to the one on the E7. It takes quite good pictures as long as you are at least three feet from your subject but there's no macro mode. Where the C7 camera really shines is in videos which are 720p HD and look quite good.
The Astound, which is targeted at first-time smartphone buyers will be available April 6th For $79.99 after a $50 rebate on a two year contract. It is also available for pre-order now for $79.99 with no rebate required. The off contract/prepaid price is expected to be around $280. The Astound supports T-Mobile's UMA WiFi calling feature. Unlike the E73, the UMA feature is can be enabled and disabled. Preinstalled apps include Sports Tracker and Slacker Radio.