You can usually count on two qualities in Nokia cell phones: good audio quality and unique design touches. Sure, the company misses a couple beats here and there, but the reliability of Finnish handsets like the Nokia 7390 is well-known in the cell phone world. As part of Nokia's L'Amour design collection, this phone definitely meets the unique design criteria, but unlike its L'Amour sibling the Nokia 7380, the 7390 doesn't go out on a limb to do so. And yes, it also fits the first criteria while offering a solid set of features. It's not offered by a U.S. carrier but you can get it unlocked in the States for about $350.
While the Nokia 7380 tackled a wholly unconventional cell phone form factor and the Nokia 7370 (also a L'Amour model) brought the swivel design to Nokia, the 7390 is a traditional flip phone. Granted, Nokia's flip-phone gallery is still outweighed by its candy bar selection, but the 7390 succeeds in what it sets out to do. Available in two distinctive color schemes--powder pink and bronze black (we looked at the latter model)--the 7390 is without a doubt an eye-catching and stylish phone. Despite being a bit boxy, the bronze faceplate contrasts nicely with the phone's overall dark color and we liked the swirled patterns etched into the front face. The leather-like square on the rear of phone is a nice touch too, but we continue to be divided on the little fabric tag that adorns all L'Amour models. Some think that it's cool, while others think that it's just unnecessary.
The lovely looks do come at a slight cost. At 3.5 inches long by 1.8 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the 7390 is a tad large as far as flip phones go, and its 4.0 ounces of weight is more than we expected. It still slips easy into a pocket and it's comfortable to hold in the hand, but the rear flap is a tad weighty. On the upside, the 7390 has a sturdy construction.
The front face is dominated by a 1.25-inch (160x128 pixels) external display that shows a solid 262,000 colors. As external displays go, it's quite bright and vibrant and a big step up from other Nokia models. It shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and photo caller ID, and it functions as a viewfinder for taking pictures when the phone is closed. Yet because the camera lens is in the rear face, you can't use the external display to take self-portraits. You can choose a wallpaper selection but no other options are customizable.
We like that the display also lets you browse through a few menu functions when the phone is closed. Below the display are three small buttons that serve a variety of functions. You can use the right and left controls to select the desired feature and then use the central key to select an option. The buttons also control the music player when the phone is closed.
As we mentioned earlier, the camera lens sits on the top of the rear face of the phone next to the flash. Unfortunately, it's not the most ideal place overall--it was the natural place to rest our finger--and it's disappointing there's no self-portrait mirror with a 3-megapixel camera. We also aren't thrilled that Nokia put the mini-USB port and the charger jack at the top of the phone, because it makes for more awkward ergonomics when you charge the phone while talking. A volume rocker and a camera shutter sit on the right spine, while a power button and the Infrared port sit on the left spine. The MicroSD card slot is behind the battery cover. No, that's not the best place, but you don't have to remove the battery too.
The internal display is even more impressive than its external sibling. With support for 16 million colors it's quite lovely indeed, with rich colors and easy-to-read text even in direct light. It's also quite large at 2.25 inches (240x320 pixels), and the Nokia Series 40 menu interface is attractive. You can change the font color and the font size and personalize it with a background. We also like that the swirled patter from the front flap is also visible in a silver border surrounding the display. For video calls, a second VGA camera lens sits on the top of the flap.
Below the display is the amply-sized navigation array consisting of a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, and the Talk and End buttons. The toggle and shift keys can be set as shortcuts to user-defined shortcuts, and the OK button opens the menu when the phone is in standby mode. The design is very simple yet perhaps it's a bit too simple. The Talk and End keys aren't marked in the traditional green and red colors, and the controls are too flat against the surface of the phone. The toggle is raised somewhat but it's not quite enough. The backlit keypad buttons are also flat with the surface of the phone and are a tad slick. On the upside, though, they're quite large and tactile and their bronze color makes them easy to see.
The Nokia 7390's feature set proves it's much more than a pretty face. Armed with a 3-meagapixel camera, a music player with FM radio, an Infrared port, and Bluetooth, the phone has the brains to go with the beauty. But first we'll detail the basics. The phone book is smaller than we'd prefer, but each entry has room for six phone numbers plus a push-to-talk number, an e-mail address, a job tile and company name, a Web address, a nickname and formal name, a street address, and notes. For even more room, the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. You save contacts to groups and for caller ID pair them with one of 23 polyphonic ringtones and a photo or video. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, voice commands and dialing, a calendar, a to-do list, a notepad, a calculator, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch.