Monday, September 24, 2007

Nokia N73 Review

Nokia does a lot of imaginative design work with handsets involving fancy shapes and sizes, twisty bits and suchlike. How nice, then, to get a Nokia handset that feels like a phone should feel in the hand and pocket (light, comfortable, unashamedly rectangular) and yet still packs in lots of features.

Weighing a mere 116g and measuring just 110 x 49 x 19mm, you could easily think the N73 is a pretty standard handset. But it is in fact brimming with features. It runs on Symbian S30 v3 and sports all that the operating system has to offer.

The star of the N73 show, though, is its camera. This is a 3.2-megapixel job with Carl Zeiss optics which ensure clear, sharp pictures.

Anyone wanting to use a handset for near-serious photography (serious shots need a dedicated digital camera), will find the auto-focus and macro modes a boon, while the easy to use controls, involving using the responsive mini joystick under the screen to move through on-screen icons and clicking to make selections for settings like ISO, scene mode and white balance, are almost frighteningly user-friendly.

We also like the sliding cover which protects the lens from scratches and dirt when not in use and, when slid away, starts the camera's software running. Not a 'first' for this handset by any means, but welcome nonetheless.

There is plenty more. The N73 is a 3G handset with a front-facing camera for video calling. With music playback on board as well as the camera you might want to augment the 42MB of internal memory with a miniSD card. The slot is on the bottom edge of the casing and has a protective cover.

An FM radio with Visual Radio support is present and, for the Web-minded, a browser and Nokia's Lifeblog software are here, the latter enabling you to post a blog from the handset. Add in the usual contact and diary management and supplied PC synchronisation software and the N73 is a nicely rounded handset.

Nokia includes the QuickOffice document readers for Word, PowerPoint and Excel as well as a PDF reader just in case you want to do some serious reading work on the 2.4-inch screen. Frankly, though, if you are interested in that kind of activity to a serious degree you should be looking at a Smartphone with a far bigger screen and maybe data editing capabilities instead of just viewing.

One oddity is the set of stereo speakers on the top and bottom edges. They do simulate stereo sound rather nicely but you have to manipulate the handset around to really hear what is going on. With the phone flat on a desk we couldn't discern stereo effects at all. On the other hand there are some stereo ringtones on board, and some of these do sound rather good through the headset.

Nokia - N73 features - Verdict

The N73 is a standard-looking candybar handset with a good range of features and a decent camera. You can get it for free on some contracts, and these factors mean it should appeal to those who value functions but don't need the bling.

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