The quality of camera phones has come a long way since their inception, and we think it's fair to say that Nokia has been one of the manufacturers leading the charge. The company's entire N series
of "multimedia computers" is proof, as they offer high-quality lenses and vast imaging features. The latest model we've seen is the Nokia N73. As the successor to the N70
, the N73 ups the ante with an excellent 3.2-megapixel camera/camcorder and more internal memory. It also offers music playback, integrated Bluetooth, and a number of productivity tools based on the Symbian OS platform. Unfortunately, our initial love faded somewhat as the N73 suffered from sluggish performance in our tests--nothing show-stopping but brief delays here and there added up to some Sony Ericsson K800i Cyber Shot
. As of this writing, no U.S. carriers offer the Nokia N73, so you will have to pay a hefty $600 or so for an unlocked version of the phone. The Nokia N73 sports an attractive candy bar-style design that's available in two stylish color schemes: silver/deep plum and frost white/metallic red. (We reviewed the former.) It's the same size (4.3 by 1.9 by 0.7 inches; 4/1 ounces) as the Sony Ericsson K800i
, which is to say that it's not the most compact phone we've seen, but it's still fairly sleek. The camera lens cover on the back of the phone also adds a bit of extra bulk, but nothing too overwhelming. Plus, the N73 has a solid construction and is comfortable to hold to the ear while talking on the phone.
The N73 boasts a beautiful 2.4-inch (diagonal) QVGA screen that displays 262,144 hues at a 240x320-pixel resolution. That translates to bright colors and sharp text and images. It's also readable in direct sunlight. You can change the display's theme and backlight time, but there's no way to increase font size, which may cause some problems for users with impaired eyesight.
We found the Nokia N73's keypad to be a bit cramped.
The numerical keypad and navigation controls sit below the screen. There are two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, and a five-way joystick for scrolling through the menu; pressing the joysticks causes it to act as a select key. Along the perimeter of the number keys are four more controls: shortcuts to the Menu and Edit function are on the left side, while the Multimedia button and Clear key are on the right side (see image above). With the exception of this last set of buttons, the keys and layout are a bit small and cramped. That's particularly disappointing since there's about 1/4-inch of extra space between the screen and the navigation keypad that could have been used for roomier keys. Instead, we suffered several misdials and launched unwanted apps. On the upside, the backlighting is nice and bright.
On the right spine, you will find the camera capture key, a review button to view the last saved image or video clip, and a zoom in/out rocker that also doubles as a volume controller. To store all your multimedia files, there's a miniSD expansion slot on the bottom of the N73. It's protected by an attached cover, which we certainly appreciate, but it's really difficult to remove--having longer nails helps. That said, we're glad Nokia placed the expansion slot on the exterior of the phone rather than behind the battery like it does with some of its other models.
Hope you've got some nails to pry open the mini SD card slot cover.
The camera lens is located on the back, and it too is protected by a cover. To activate the camera, just slide the cover downward. The screen goes into landscape mode automatically and acts as a viewfinder. As a result, you're naturally inclined to turn the phone horizontally to take photos. Now, with the camera capture key and zoom keys at the top, the N73 looks and feels like a standalone digital camera. Admittedly, it's a little awkward to take vertical snapshots this way, but you get the hang of it after a few tries. While there's no self-portrait mirror, the Nokia N73 offers you something better--a second camera. It's located just above the screen in the upper right corner.
The N73 doesn't have a self-portrait mirror, but there's no need since it has a second camera for that purpose.
Nokia packages the N73 with most of the basic accessories, including an AC adapter, a USB cable, a stereo headset, a wrist strap, a wipe cloth, Nokia PC Suite software, and reference material. The only thing we'd add to our wish list is a miniSD card.
Like its N-series siblings, the N80 and the N93, the Nokia N73's imaging capabilities is what makes it a multimedia computer (as Nokia calls it), but we don't forget that it is first and foremost a phone. As such, we'll start with those capabilities. The address book is limited only by the available memory (42MB) and the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. There's room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, work and home addresses, e-mail addresses, birthday, and more vitals. For caller ID, you can assign each contact to a photo, one of 30 ring tones, or a group ID. The N73 also has speed dial, voice command support, a vibrate mode (called Pager profile on this phone), a speakerphone, and text and multimedia messaging.
The N73 is equipped with Bluetooth 2.0 for wireless headsets and car kits. You can also use the device as a modem to send or receive e-mail, or to connect to the Web with a compatible PC. Unfortunately, unlike the N80, the N73 does not have Wi-Fi. While this is disappointing, we were still able surf the Net using a GPRS or EDGE connection, so you're not completely left in the cold.