The Bod: Yup
The is the first Nokia smartphone, and possibly the first Series 60 smartphone (the Sendo X may have actually been
the first) that's small enough to fit in a Levi's change pocket. The shape is comfortable in the left or right hand,
despite the fact that one side has a corner and the other has a curve.
The screen is big and bright under all lighting conditions. It has pretty fast refresh too, so using it as a
viewfinder for the one megapixel camera in the phone doesn't make you sick to your stomach.
It sounds great, right, so why didn't we give it an "Oh yah?" Simple, The wacky keypad. There are at least 10 reviews
out there that will tell you you get used to the wacky keypad and some even claim that they thought the crazy keypad
was better once they got used to it. This is not one of those reviews. The non-standard placement and different sizes
of each key makes it nearly impossible to get used to the keyboard enough to tap out a quick text. It's also difficult
to get to the inappropriately small applications menu buttton (the one that looks like a sync icon) because it's
constantly hidden under your thumb. The one redeeming quality of the keypad is that the D-Pad is surprising easy to use
and accurate despite its relatively flat profile.
Battery Life: Yup
The 7610 gets about the same battery life as all new Nokia smartphones - a little over 2 days of normal use. This
isn't really surprising since they all use the same high-quality large screen and the same medium-sized battery (with
the exception of the N-Gage QD which has a cheaper screen and a bigger battery). There are reports of people who
managed to squeeze the QD's battery into the 7610 for longer life between charges. We tried to, but the QD battery's
additional thickness makes it impossible to get the battery cover back on, so don't get your hopes up.
Signal and Sound: Ugh
Earlier reviews of the Euro-friendly 7610 reported were quite impressed with the signal strength of the phone, so we
were expecting equally impressive performance from our North American version. Sadly, we were disappointed. Not only
was our 7610 not better than other Nokias, it was actually worse than both our 6600 and N-Gage QD, neither of which are
exactly impressive when it comes to signal strength. When we asked if something was wrong with our phone, Nokia had no
suggestions or explanations to improve reception.
At least the speaker and microphone are positioned well, are very loud, and sound great. As usual, speakerphone is
only one keypress away during a call, and it's very useful, as well usable. If you manage to have enough signal to get
a call, no one will complain about how the call sounds.
Menus: Oh Yah!
Series 60 is nothing if not consistent. The menus feel very much like a regular cell phone as opposed to some wacky
PDA affair, so they're easy to use without having to read any manuals or relearn how you are used to doing things on
your regular mobile. Nokia has also included a number of thoughtful features, like an indicator arrow that shows
whether you can scroll down for more options and changes depending on where you are and how many items are in the list.
This same arrow is also used for web pages and text display as well, adding even more consistency. Tricks like
using the pencil button for different text entry options are available in every application, so you'll learn to use
them since they're always there. Literally the only trick to the menus is figuring out that the button that looks like
a sync icon takes you to the applications.
Calling: Oh Yah!
Of course the 7610 supports all the normal shortcuts (redial, voicemail, etc.), and it does a good job with call
waiting and conference calls. It also goes above and beyond the call of duty, doing and excellent job of taking calls
while you're in other applications- much better, in fact, than most other smartphones. The only problem i would say the
7610 has calling is finding the speed dial application you have to use to assign keys 2-9 a phone number. The
application is hidden in the tools folder instead of just adding the option to the Contacts menu. Still, it is quite
Silencing and diverting calls is as easy on the 7610 as any phone. Like all Nokias, tapping on the power button brings
up a profiles menu, which even supports a timed option that will set the phone to silent whenever there's a meeting in
your schedule. However other than editing or selecting a different profile there is no way to change the ringing volume
on the phone. There are no side volume keys at all, so to adjust call volume, you have to feel around or take the phone
away from your ear to use the D-Pad. Although you get used to it, especially if you've owned other Series 60 phones
before, it's still a bit of a pain.
Contacts: Oh Yah!
Because of some changes (for the better, believe it or not) that Nokia made to the OS starting with this phone, it's
not compatible with iSync. Normally we don't like that but it's not really Nokia's fault. You can still send vCards to
the phone from any computer or phone or PDA, and Nokia includes a new sync package for PCs on the CD that comes with
the phone. The contact application can hold a huge variety of data from numbers and email address to postal address,
birthdays and more. It's easy to call or email from the contact app just by pressing the answer key. The only ding the
contact application gets is that it stinks at displaying alot of data for a contact, there's no "summary card" type
screen. Well, that and postal address are displayed in the weirdest way.
Messages: Oh Yah!
We were actually considering inventing a new rating for the 7610;s performance in this category called "Hell Yah!"
Since the 7610 will exceed pretty much all your messaging expectations, it's not fair to give it a rating that other
phones could achieve. From setup to use, the 7610 (and all Series 69 version 2 phones) have the nicest, most complete
messaging abilities around. It supports SMS, MMS and email with equal aplomb. You can add a menu item to the home
screen called "New Message." Select it, and it asks Text Message, Picture Message. Configure an email account, and it
adds email to the new message list. Select a contact, compose away and you're done. Retrieving email is equally easy
and more configurable than many other smartphones. Reviews from power users complain that it doesn't support HTML
messages or a few of the fancier security protocols. Who cares? What type of HTML email do you get that's not spam
Calendar: Oh Yah!
The 7610 does everything it has to do, it even goes above and beyond the call of duty. It can sync vCal data with PCs
or receive them from other devices. It deals with meeting alarms well. It can set itself to Silent during meetings. And
it can turn itself on to tell you something's happening. The alarm is equally good, even if like the speed dial, it is
buried in a folder and the application is actually called clock. It's hard to say much about this category since the
phone works exactly like it should.
It's a shame that Nokia does not include a real HTML on a friggin smartphone. It has included a copy of the very
powerful Opera browser on the CD for many of it's Series 60 phones, but it's never been pre-installed. Dear Nokia,
you've made Opera the standard browser on the Communicators, we'd appreciate it if you do the same for Series 60.
Basically the 7610 is stuck with a large screen version of the same browser as on most regular phones these days. Sure
it's well designed and works fairly quickly, but it's still a WAP browser. You'll be able to surf your carrier's home
page and other mobile sites, but forget the "real" web.
We were expecting more considering the 7610 has a megapixel camera. Pictures from the 7610 still comes out looking
very pixelated. Worse, because Nokia has tweaked its brightness settings to compensate for the lack of flash, all the
pictures look washed out. Pictures we took on beautiful blue-skied days came out looking like the San Francisco fog had
settled over the city. Brilliant colors were bled out to dull grey tones, and without enough color in the original
image, no amount of Photoshop trickery can save these snaps. The one redeeming quality of this fancy auto balancing
system is that the phone does take pretty good pictures in low light despite the lack of flash. An additional complaint
is that if you have a memory card installed, the phone will save all your pictures to it. That's great except when you
go to the gallery application to look at your pictures, you have to manually select the memory card or you'll drive
yourself nuts wondering where all your pictures went.
Personalization: Oh Yah!
The D-Pad is the only thing that's not customizable on the 7610, pressing in on it will always take you to the
Contacts list from the home screen. You can customize the right and left soft keys to almost any shortcut imaginable.
You can re-skin the entire UI with new themes and replace the ringtones with just about any file format including MP3.
The 7610 even has changeable faceplates front and back. Basically you can customize the entire phone to fit your
personality or style.
There are no games on the phone, however the included MMC card has demo versions of a few games like Lemonade, Inc. It
also includes some other applications, none of which matter to you. Thankfully, there is a large Series 60 community,
who have developed a number of excellent games and applications for the phone, many of which are free. Pick your own
games, but download Agile Messenger, an excellent multi-IM client, and plunk down a couple of bucks for the Opera
browser if it's not on your 7610 when you get it from Nokia or your carrier.