Nokia N70, a future smash hit

What if sultry Angelina Jolie and NFL’s King QB Tom Brady somehow found themselves in matrimonial bliss and that led to a genetic mash-up? Imagine the beauty and ruggedness and now apply that to two of the hottest cellphones from Nokia’s stable – the briskly selling 6680 and the ultra sleek Nokia 8800. What you get is Nokia N70, a hot 3G WCDMA/GSM phone from Nokia, that is surely going to be a sizzler for many months to come. N70 is part of the Nokia’s N-series premium phones that are supposed to be less phone, and more convergence devices. High end digital cameras, music players and video cameras are supposed to be selling points of these phones.

First lets take the looks. It seems like the 6682 had a little nip-and-tuck, lost a few proverbial pounds (or at least some grams), got into fighting trim for a night out on the town. And then it went to Rodeo Drive and got itself a whole new wardrobe. The pearly white of 6682 has been replaced by the silver gray/steel gray combo. The faceplate/camera cover, despite being made of plastic type material has an “Apple Powerbook” like feel to it. Rest of the phone is a curvaceous (yet still masculine) steel gray plastic, but you would never think of it that way.

Now lets turn to other features. I have been using the Euro-version of Nokia N70 for nearly a week, and it has managed to not only meet but exceed expectations. Forget the excellent 2 megapixel camera, high quality of its photos, built-in FM radio, or the new S60 Symbian OS – it is a great phone. Period. Thanks to a top notch RF chip, the sound quality is crisp and clear. The phone came-up trumps in my blind dialing test, every single time.

The keypad, seems a little shrunk, but the bevel-type keys make dialing easier. The four-way navikey is very effective, despite its diminutive size. Writing short SMS messages is pretty easy, and not tedious. The peripheral keys however seem a little squished and take some getting used to, despite being in the all familiar spots.

The S60’s PIM is as usual pretty good. In order to make it work with my Mac, I had to do a little hackery, and for that I have top tip my hat to fine folks at MacOSXhints. (PC owners can use the accompanying software to get going!) The bluetooth helps you connect to Powerbook, and you are good to iSync. I paired the phone with three different headsets, without a problem, and also was able to use the Nokia bluetooth keyboard. (On short trips, N70 plus Nokia 770 and the keyboard is all that you will need. The phone and the tablet share a common charger, that is slightly different from traditional Nokia chargers. ) However, I must remind you that bluetooth drains the battery and be judicious in how you use it.

Phone’s 3G features are pretty much pointless in the US, since we use different frequencies here. I am told Cingular is going to sell this phone, and hopefully they will make it work with its HSDPA network that is supposed to launch any day now. (Apparently, this bit about Cingular is just a rumor, and not a fact.) Still the phone performed remarkably well on an EDGE network. It comes with Opera pre-installed and I have been using the phone to manage and moderate the comments section of my blog through WordPress control panel.

I like the audio (music) functionality of this phone. The accompanying headphones completely confused me. They have white cords, which perhaps was a tip-of-the-hat to iPod. However they did seem out of place. Nevertheless, I got over that, and explored the audio functions. The enhanced Visual radio is great if you want to catch up on the latest tunes etc. You need to go online (over the air) to register your location. After that you can simply preset your favorite FM radio stations. You can enjoy your own tunes if you have a big enough RS-DV (1.8/3V) MMC memory card. Once I can find a 1GB card, I am going to be playing back Ogg files using the OggPlay, my favorite mobile music player. The built in music player is pretty good and can handle all kinds of music including un-encrypted AAC files. Since I literally live walking distance from work, that will work, but not a chance the phone will replace my iPod.

Since Nokia is positioning N70 as a digital camera, lets take a look at its camera. The phone has two cameras – one in the front and one in the back. The front camera is 0.3 megapixels, but it is for making video calls, which are not quite possible yet in the US, so don’t really know how it works. The main camera is better than anything I have used, and I have become quite a shutter-bug. I will be posting some of the images later to my Flickr account, using the Lifeblog software.

Okay, now like a perfect marriage of looks, form and function, the phone has some problems. Switching between apps seems sluggish, and I do get a feeling that phone might be underpowered. I find the icons on the new phone a bit tardy, and not in sync with overall beauty of this phone. Given that a phone like this can cost a few hundred dollars, as a user I expect better.

Bottomline: On a scale of one to 10, this phone merits a solid 7.5 on a scale of one to 10, and a Very good rating.

Additional links:

Nokia press release and Nokia N70 website. Photos courtesy, Nokia PR