So let's get on with the music, shall we? There's a whole subsection of the phone's menu dedicated to music, where you can listen to your songs and watch music videos, shop for music, listen to mobile radio, and more. The N75's integrated music player supports MP3, WMA, M4A, AAC, and eAAC+ formats, among others, and OMA DRM 2.0- and WMDRM-protected songs. It also synchronizes with Windows Media Player and is compatible with PlaysForSure content, so you can play songs purchased from services such as Napster to Go, Yahoo Unlimited, and Cingular Music. We were pretty psyched when we saw that you could access the online music services via the phone, but the excitement was shortlived as we found out that you have to sideload songs from your PC. You can't purchase tracks directly from the phone.
To transfer music onto the device, simply use the included USB cable and drag-and-drop tunes in data transfer mode or use the Nokia PC Suite. The phone has about 40MB of user-accessible memory, but we recommend you save the space and load your tunes and other multimedia files onto a microSD card. The N75's expansion slot can accept cards as large as 2GB. Once you've got your songs on the device, the music library categorizes tracks by artists, albums, genres, and composers. You can also create playlists right on the phone and adjust the sound with the built-in equalizer. There are also a host of other music apps through the Cingular Music service, including a music ID service and MobiRadio, but they all require a subscription fee.
The Nokia N75 is equipped with a 2-megapixel camera with a built-in flash and 10x zoom. As with other camera-equipped Nokia N series phones, the N75 offers a wide range of customization and editing options for your images. You get three quality settings, six scene modes, a white balance adjustment, a sequence mode, a self-timer, and more. The camera can also shoot MPEG-4 videos with sound as fast as 15 frames per second, but your editing choices are more limited in this mode.
Picture quality was a bit disappointing. We're not sure if it's because the N75 doesn't employ a Carl Zeiss lens as the other N series camera phones do, but images weren't as sharp and the coloring was off, with a blue-gray overtone. Also, we found it a bit awkward to take pictures using the internal display as your viewfinder. Video quality was actually bit better, with sharper definition.
One area where the Nokia N75 might have an edge over the MP3 cell phone competition is productivity. The N75 runs the third edition of the S60 platform on the Symbian operating system for your office needs. An app called QuickOffice lets you view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, and it optimizes the pages for the phone's screen, so you don't have to scroll all over the place to read text. However, if you want any editing capabilities, you'll have to upgrade the preloaded copy of QuickOffice. For messaging, the N75 supports IMAP4 and POP3 accounts with an attachment viewer. In addition, you can tap into your Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL mobile e-mail and instant messengers. Other productivity apps and PIM tools include Adobe Reader, a Zip Manager, a calculator, a notepad, a measurement converter, a clock, and a voice recorder.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; EDGE; UMTS) Nokia N75 in San Francisco using Cingular service, and call quality was excellent. We had no problems hearing our friends and enjoyed clear, crisp audio with very little background noise. Our callers reported the same and said they couldn't tell we were using a cell phone. The speakerphone was also quite good and had plenty of volume to carry on conversations in noisier environments. In addition, we had no problems pairing the N75 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset.
General performance was faster than that of other Nokia N series phones. We didn't experience a long delay when opening and switching between apps, although the camera function slowed things down a bit. Music playback through the phone's dual speakers was actually quite disappointing. While there was plenty of volume, songs sounded tinny and lacked richness. Once again, we also have to point out that the restriction of having to use Nokia's proprietary earbuds (unless you get an adapter) is a big pain. Watching videos on the phone wasn't exactly a treat either. We viewed several clips from the Cingular Video service, including music videos, sports highlights, and news, and some from our personal video library. Though audio and video were synchronized, images were quite pixilated and blurry.
The Nokia N75 is rated for four hours of talk time, and as long as eight days of standby time. In our our battery tests, we got only an appalling two hours of talk time on a single charge. Not only that, but the battery/rear side of the phone also felt very warm. The atrocious talk time battery life may be the result of running on the 3G network, but having to run for the nearest outlet after such a short time is pretty darn bad. For MP3 battery life, we were able to get nine hours of continuous listening time after just one drain test, but we'll update this score as CNET Labs runs the full gamut of performance tests over the next couple of days. According to FCC radiation tests, the N75 has a digital SAR rating of 0.68 watt per kilogram.
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