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Nokia 7610

Nokia 7610
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Retail Price: RM 764
AP Price: RM 568 - 583
By Jonathan Cheah (editor@mobile88.com)

Nokia has recently announced its second megapixel phone, the 6670. Let us have a look at what a first generation phone in the Nokia Imaging range is capable of.

At A Glance:

Price: RM 2,288
Local Distributor: Nokia (M) Sdn Bhd.
Contact: 1-300-88-1600
Build quality: 7/10
Applications: 9/10
Interface: 9/10
Value-for-money: 7/10
Overall rating: 8/10
+ Megapixel camera
+ Themes and expansion support
+ Multiple applications included
- Too expensive
- No Infrared or Radio
- Battery issues

Sharper images
Although by no means the first megapixel phone the world, the Nokia 7610 is one of the first from a major brand and probably the most-hyped one at that. The honour of the world’s first megapixel probably belongs to J-phone of Japan with the hardware manufactured by Sharp, claiming a resolution of 1144 x 858 pixels. Surprisingly, the first megapixel phone in the US is claimed by Audiovox, a brand one does not normally associate with cutting-edge handsets.

On 17 March 2004, Nokia hijacked CEBIT 2004 in Hanover, Germany by showing the world a fashionable candybar phone that came in dual-tone ruby and onyx-coloured covers. Nokia’s first megapixel runs the Symbian 7 operating system upon a series-60 platform. The system also has built-in software that allows the user to send pictures directly to a Bluetooth-enabled printer. A Movie Director application lets you change the video clips that you have shot, by adding special effects such as music, text, colours or moving objects.

Lights, camera, action!
The Nokia 7610 operates on the Symbian 7 operating system, which is slightly better than the Symbian 6 operating system. Symbian 7 supports themes and Java MIDP 2.0 but Symbian 6 does not. This is but a small inconvenience, but let me tell you that using themes really changes the way you Nokia interface looks.

The screen of the 7610 is crystal clear, and so is the sound that comes out of it. However, the back cover is really flimsy and difficult to pry off. After meddling with the infernal contraption for a while, I realised that it was a defect in the phone’s construction. The battery is just too high, and the slider mechanism that releases the back cover is not able to slide down fully because the battery is blocking it. When you take out the battery, it works just fine, but then again, how are you supposed to use the phone without the battery?

On comparing its size with the 6600, I found that the 7610 is just as large as the 6600, except that the 6600 is slightly fatter and thicker. However, perhaps due to the unbalanced cut where two of the corners are rounded off, the 7610 comes across as being one of the largest Symbian phones that I have held in my hands save the original N-gage.

I wonder why the speaker button on the 7650 has been moved to the right soft key in succeeding Symbian phones. I found it rather convenient to have that button there, especially since it not only switched your conversation to loudspeaker mode, but it also allowed one-touch voice commands to be given to the phone. The newer mode of activation for the voice command function is not readily apparent as you have to hold down the right soft key for a few seconds before it kicks in.

I brought up this point about buttons because although the 7610 retains all the buttons that are common to Symbian phones, Nokia’s continual shifting about of the edit and the menu buttons suggests that they still haven’t figured out where it goes best. The keys are laid out in a swirl that results in some of the keys being much smaller than the others. The ‘3’ key, for example, is about a third of the size of the ‘0’ key. Although pleasant to look at, the 3, 6 and 9 keys are difficult to use for right-handed text messaging.

Ordering up the right menu
Having had the chance to play with just about every Symbian phone made by Nokia, I must say that some managing of the applications is necessary. Right now, each new application introduced by Nokia results in another icon littering the menu instead of being filed away properly in a folder. It is starting to look like the mess Microsoft Windows makes on the computer by leaving files all over the place.

The infrared application has been taken out. It seems to be quite a trend these days with the Motorola E398 and Nokia N-Gage QD that we reviewed last month also being Bluetooth-only devices. Although Bluetooth is gaining widespread acceptance, I actually prefer beaming infrared for smaller-sized work such as exchanging contacts or notes with another device, and leaving the Bluetooth for the heavier moving of larger files.

The megapixel camera is a plus though, except that the portrait option has been removed and the night-mode is now buried inside the options menu. I noticed that my finger kept straying to the camera lens when I talk on the phone, and the protective plastic around the lens was already fading from the abuse imparted to the phone by another reviewer.

The MMC within the phone has been changed to one that is about half the size of a regular MMC. This is called the RS-MMC, with the RS standing for ‘reduced-size’. The use of RS-MMC allows hardware designers to save some space, and most industry observers around agree that the RS-MMC will eventually succeed the MMC in both price and capacity.

Editor,s Opinion

It is a rare day when Nokia actually fumbles in making a phone, more so a Symbian phone. Although many have claimed that the 7610 is truly outstanding, I beg to differ. The construction defect with the battery may be minor if you do not peel off the back cover often. After checking around the Nokia websites, it seems that the battery specified is the BL-5C rated at 900 mAh, but what was in the review unit was the BL-6C rated at 1070 mAh.

If you asked me to describe the phone is one word, I would say that it is over-rated. Actually, if you compare the prices of the 7610 and the 6600, you could probably buy a good digital camera with the difference. The keys are not too good, but I am reserving my comments here because I have seen keys that are a lot worse than that.

This is a phone with a Pop-port interface but no radio capabilities. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any pop-ports on Symbian phones so far. To be fair, the 7610 appears to respond slightly faster than the 6600, and coupled with the megapixel camera this is one of the top models for the Symbian series from Nokia. I just can’t see how it translates into such an inflated price for the product.

Finally, to give the benefit of the doubt to all concerned, the battery might have just been a mistake from the number of people who handled the product prior to my reviewing it, which is why I always ask for ‘virgin’ sets. However, if it was a deliberate swap by the company or the previous reviewer, then I must say that this is a most deplorable act and suggests that the 7610’s specified battery cannot handle the load of the phone and its applications. I’d stick with my ‘fat boy’ 6600 in any case.

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