So was it worth the wait? Meh. On the one hand, the N75 offers excellent call quality and snappier performance than other Nokia N series phones. It also boasts a gorgeous internal display, a roomy keypad, and external music controls. However, the N75 disappoints in a number of areas, too. The most alarming is the extremely short talk-time battery life, and its 3G support is UMTS and not HSDPA. Perhaps we're greedy, but when you consider that the carrier's other music phones, such as the Samsung Sync and the Motorola Razr V3xx, offer HSDPA speeds at a lower cost, it makes you pause. As such, if it's a music phone you're after, we recommend the Sync or the V3xx, while if you want the added smart phone capabilities, take a look at the Samsung BlackJack.
The Nokia N75 isn't exactly a stunner in the looks department. The black-and-silver color scheme is classic, but it doesn't have the flash of a Samsung Upstage. Also, at 3.8 inches long by 2 inches wide by 0.8 inch high, the flip phone is a bit blocky and bulky. This makes for a bit of a tight fit in a pants pocket. Also, in its open state, the N75 measures 7 inches long, so the mouthpiece extends down quite a bit when you're talking on the phone. We also thought that the front flap felt too pliable when held up against the ear. It's not so bad that we think it'll snap off its hinge, but it is something we noticed during our test period. On the upside, the handset features a soft-touch finish that makes the phone easy to grip.
There are some advantages that come with the larger size, namely spacious external and internal displays and a roomy keypad. First, the front flap boasts a 1.3-inch external screen that shows off 262,000 colors at a 160x128 pixel resolution. Aside from displaying the standard information (time, date, signal strength, battery life, and caller ID), it also shows you track information and EQ levels when you're in music mode and acts as a viewfinder in camera mode. And to complement the N75's music abilities, there are dedicated music controls--back, play/pause/stop/ forward--just below the screen. You can even use them to launch the music player and view all your songs without having to open the phone first.
Once you flip open the phone, you're greeted with a beautiful 2.4-inch diagonal screen that shows off 16 million colors at a 240x320 pixel resolution. Text and images looked gorgeous with vibrant hues and sharp definition, and we could view the display in most lighting conditions. However, the screen does have a tendency to hold smudges and fingerprints.
The N75's menus are intuitive and easy to navigate with the controls found below the screen. These include two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, an edit key, a clear button, a Main Menu shortcut, a Music menu shortcut, and a four-way navigation toggle with center select key. Overall, the layout is spacious, though directional keypad could be a bit tricky for users with larger thumbs. On the other hand, the alphanumeric keypad is extraroomy and features tactile, backlit buttons, keeping misdials to a minimum.
On the right spine of the N75, there's a volume rocker, a camera activation key, and another button to switch to video mode. As with the Nokia N95, the placement of the latter two buttons mimics the feel of a digital camera when shooting a picture horizontally and with the front cover closed. The camera lens is located on the back of the handset along with a flash, but unfortunately, there's no lens cover so take care not to scratch the surface. The left side of the Nokia N75 houses the Pop-Port connector (for Nokia's proprietary USB cable and headset), the power connector, and a microSD slot. We're glad that Nokia brought the expansion slot to the exterior of the phone instead of behind of the battery as it's had a tendency to do so on its previous phones. However, we must say the Pop-Port is a bit of a nuisance. First, it's protected by a stiff, attached cover that you have to wrangle every time you want to connect any of the cables. Also, the proprietary port means you can't plug in any pair of headphones (2.5mm or 3.5mm) so you'll have to get an adapter to do so--a bit of a disappointment for such a music-friendly phone.
Finally, there are two small speakers located on both sides of the phone and a power button on top. The Nokia N75 for Cingular ships with only a USB cable, a power adapter, a software CD, and reference material. Much to our dismay, there is no wired headset or micro SD card included in the box. You can check our cell phone accessories page for such add-ons, ringtones, and help.
Like the Samsung Sync, the big draw of the Nokia N75 is its music capabilities, but it's first and foremost a phone. The phone's address book is limited only by the available memory 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, a birthdate, and personal data. For caller ID purposes, you can assign each contact a photo, a group ID, and one of 20 preloaded ring tones. You can, of course, download more, and to mix things up, the mobile also supports 3D ring tone effects with various reverberations and sound trajectories--a fun, little feature. As a quad-band phone, the N75 offers true world roaming as well as a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, voice command support, and a vibrate mode. There are also a couple of extra, cool utilities for your phone: Voice Aid and Message Reader. Both use text-to-speech technology, and the former can read your recent calls or your address book's contents back to you, to name two, while the latter will read you your text messages. We tested both apps and while the robotic voice mangles some words, overall it did a good job, and we found them to be handy utilities.
Another big story here is the 3G support. Operating on Cingular's UMTS 850/1900 network, the N75 can achieve data transfer speeds of as fast as 2Mbps (though realistically, you'll experience more in the 300Kbps-to-400Kbps range) and access the carrier's 3G services such as Cingular Video. Of course, we wish the N75 would support HSDPA speeds, as do some of Cingular's other music phones including the Samsung Sync and Motorola Razr V3xx, but we'll take what we get. The N75's integrated Bluetooth 2.0 supports a number of profiles, including wireless headsets, hands-free kits, dial-up networking, generic object exchange, and file transfer. Unlike the N95, the Nokia N75 is not equipped with built-in Wi-Fi or GPS.