Review by Michael Oryl on Friday July 02, 2004.
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Nokia 7610With the introduction of the 7650 over two years ago, Nokia started down a path of pushing the concept of a phone OS/UI platform. Nokia's Series 60 platform, as it was called, would run on top of the Symbian OS and would define standard user interface and programming API features, much as Microsoft Windows does on the desktop PC. The 7650 was the first Series 60 device on the market, but it has since been followed by numerous other Nokia devices, and a few non-Nokia devices, too (such as the Siemens SX1 and Sendo X, among others).
The 7610, the subject of this review, is one of the first handsets on the market that makes use of the second edition of Series 60, and as such, it enjoys some not insignificant UI tweaks and the ability to support some new technology, such as Nokia's new Bluetooth Keyboard.
But for most people, the significance of the 7610 lies not with the updates to Series 60, but with its megapixel camera - Nokia's first.
Sizing it up
Before we get to the camera and other fun features of the 7610, though, let's check out some of the more mundane specs and figures.
One of my complaints with the Nokia 6600 series was the form factor; it is on the large side for a mobile phone. Part of the problem was the need to fit in a couple of Series 60 specific buttons onto the keypad. The end result was a phone that was fairly wide at just over 58mm - wider than even the P900 with its huge touch screen display. The 7610, by way of an ingenious new keypad design, has managed to trim both width and thickness when compared with the 6600, while managing to maintain the exact same length. In fact, Nokia's 7610 is both 5mm narrower and thinner than the 6600. This might not sound like much, but the impact when the phone is held in your hand or stuffed in your pocket is quite noticeable. Subtract 5g of weight, bringing the 7610 in at just under 120g with SIM and memory cards, and you have a difference you can both see and feel.
The keypad that partly enables this transformation had given me cause for doubt when the 7610 was first announced. I mean, there was a lot of "here we go again" type thoughts running through my head. The 3650's circular keypad, while novel, had been a complete failure, and the swooping curves and asymmetric lines of the 7610's keypad had me wondering if somebody at Nokia was succumbing to a few too many fumes at the drawing board. Lucky for all of us, whether fume induced or not, the new keypad is actually very good. It has a great feel, and the layout actually works. In fact, I'd have to rate it as one of my favorite keypads ever. It is compact, but the curves seem to follow a natural path that my thumb, at least, seems to favor. Perhaps a left handed person might not agree, as surely as some other righties out there will disagree, but I think that most people are going to find the keypad enjoyable to use. There is one thing about it that irks me, though: there is no auto-lock feature. You'll have to resort to a 3rd party app for that function. The small directional-pad controller was not quite as good as the rest of the keypad. While it works accurately, it is a bit small and stiff. The surface of the controller could have done with a rubberized or textured coating. But after a short while it posed no obstacle at all. I simply got use to it.
There are a few things missing on the physical side of the phone, though. For example, there is no dedicated volume control; the d-pad must be used for that. The camera lens, located on the back, could also use a cover of some sort. Exterior access to the memory card would have been nice, too, but perhaps a bit questionable considering the size of the new RS-MMC cards that the 7610 makes use of. As is, the card slot is located under the battery, ala N-Gage. But more on that later.