Review: Nokia N73 multimedia phone

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The Propaganda

The N73 is billed by Nokia as the complete multimedia phone. It comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera, including a Carl Zeiss lens, an MP3 player and radio which play out of integrated stereo speakers with 3D sound. The big drawer for many people will be the integration with Flickr, making sharing your photos really easy.

It’s a 3G phone and has a secondary camera mounted by the screen for video calls, as well as all the Symbian S60 functionality of mobile email, and applications such as Real Player.  It’s available in three different colour combination – silver and plum, white and red or white and brown.

The Good

The first thing that you notice on picking up the N73 is the camera cover, which doesn’t sit flush to the surface of the phone. However, whilst on first glance you might think it makes it look, well, odd, in fact it hides a key selling point of the handset – the camera. The camera itself is 3.2 megapixels, and launches as soon as you open the shutter – a revelation after being used to navigating various menus to get to a camera phone. You can adjust the resolution of the images, according to what you want to do with them, and how many pictures you want to be able to store on your phone. In a nice touch, they’ve added the size of print that each resolution will stretch too, which is exactly the kind of detail that your average user might not be sure of.

Taking a picture is also a piece of cake, thanks to the buttons on the side of the phone, which mean you can hold it exactly as if you’re using a camera. All the settings are defaulted to auto, which means you don’t need to worry about the flash (and it is a flash, rather than an LED light) or the focus, although you can switch to manual. In fact, there’s at least 3 minutes of fun to be had revealing the lense and then watching the internal exposure mechanics adjust to the lighting – it’s like shining a torch in someone’s eyes and watching their pupils dilate. However, so far, so nothing new. But it’s once you’ve taken a photo that the fun really starts.

The N73 comes set up ready for you to synch it with your Flickr account. It’s just a case of entering your username and password, after which you’re good to go. That means that when you take a photo, as well as the usual ‘Send via text/bluetooth/IR’ you have the option to upload on the Web. And once you’ve started, it’s difficult to stop. I’m not sure when I’m going to need the pictures of my office that are now littering my Flickr account, but you never know.

It also comes with Nokia’s Lifeblog, which is based on LiveJournal. It allows you to post items from your phone, including SMS, MMS and audio, onto your existing LiveJournal. If you don’t already have an account, you can sign up from your phone and get started almost instantaneously. For avid mobloggers, there’s an application which displays a timeline of all your activity from the day – the texts you received, the photos you took etc, which you can then go through and post to your blog.

Whilst its raison d’etre is the camera and all you can do with it, the N73 doesn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to other features. There’s a search application, accessible from the main menu, which connects you to both Yahoo and Yell.com, making finding business details, or just surfing the web a lot easier than navigating bookmarks. It’s also got stereo speakers for the MP3 player, which play in 3D. There’s another few minutes of fun to be had fiddling with the ringtones, hearing what they might sound like in a cave, a railway station or a duct. It’s completely bizarre, but does illustrate the quality of the sound you can get out of them. 

The Bad

The camera is easy to use, and takes fantastic photographs, but it’s not the reason to get rid of your digital camera all together. I found it slow to load – it took 4 seconds from when you opened the cover, which means if you’re after that illusive spur of the moment shot, you’ll probably have missed it. There’s also the eternal problem with camera phones with the lag between when you’ve hit the button, to when the shot is actually captured. Again, you’ll miss the spur of the moment pictures.

The Flickr application can also be a bit of a minefield. It asks you for your Flickr username and password – easy. Unless you signed up using your Yahoo ID. In this case, there’s no explanation about what you should do from Nokia’s side. If you root around on the Flickr website there is a page explaining that you need a whole new login for N73s, which is a completely random selection of numbers and letters.

The design of the phone is pretty nondescript. The lense cover doesn’t sit flush against the back of the phone, which makes it look like the battery cover isn’t pushed on properly. There’s also a memory card slot for MiniSd cards, which you need the nails of an LA socialite to be able to get into.

Geek Sheet

Weight: 116 g

Height: 110 mm

Width: 49 mm

Thickness (max): 19 mm

Memory: 42MB internal memory, MiniSD slot

Camera: 3.2 megapixels, 20x digital zoom

Audio Support: AAC, MP3, WMA

Synchronization: MS Outlook, Lotus Notes 5.0, MS Outlook Express, Lotus Organiser 5.0, Lotus Organis er 6.0

In our opinion

It’s rare that a product that promises to make it easier for us to share our life/photos/whatever actually does. However, I’m completely converted with the N73. The integration with Flickr and LiveJournal mean that it really does make it simple to add things to your online accounts. If you don’t have a blog but intend to, this is the phone to get. And if you’ve got no interest in sharing your life with complete strangers? The camera alone might win you over.

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