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My N73 review

n731.jpgNote: This is a repost from July 2006 of my N73 review, updated for the latest firmware.

This is my first impressions after playing with my new Nokia N73 for a few days. I’m using one that came from Hong Kong, and supports GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 and UMTS 2100. Note that being in Canada, we don’t have 3G quite yet and even if we did it wouldn’t be the right frequency.

Original firmware information: V 2.0628.0.0.1 10-07-2006 RM-133 N73 (11)
Updated firmware: 3.0704.1.0.1

The box
The box I got came with: the phone, an asia-type charger, a data cable, a headset, a 128M MiniSD card, a user manual, a driver CD and a charger converter to use the older chargers. In the package was also a plug converter for the asian charger. Note that all the applications were installed on the phone, except for Sudoku, a dictionary and a series of extra DRMed ringtones which can’t be played without buying them, which I didn’t do.

The phone
Size wise, the phone is smaller than it may appear in pictures. I’m going from a Nokia 6620 to a N73 so its visibly smaller. The build seems solid too, and the camera slide is nice as well. the screen is as bright and nice as others have reported already.

The memory card door is something others have commented on. While it’s true that a solid metal door would have been better, I think this is a very good door compared to other phones I’ve seen, and it’s not too hard to open once you figure out how.

It uses a standard pop-port which means any compatible accessories work with it. It uses the smaller charger port, I’m not sure why since there would have been space to put the older type.

The stereo speakers are nice and loud, much more so than my 6620 which really wasn’t loud enough. When using the headset or making a call with the normal phone speaker, the volume seemed in line with the 6620.

The phone also supports IR which I don’t really have a use for, and Bluetooth which is what I use with the PC Suite program.

As far as stability goes, the lag to browse menus and open applications is still visible like any S60, but it’s much less than my 6620 had. In the 2 days I’ve been playing with, the main problems it has is in the camera and gallery. Applications can be used in multi task but if you use the Web application, or if you open big files (I tried to open a 3 megs PDF) then you’ll start seeing those Out of memory messages. In normal use, you can easily have Contacts, Calendar and the music player up at once.

The camera
The main camera is 3.2MPx and takes 2048×1536 jpeg images by default. It is way better than the old VGA one on my old phone. I don’t have a digital camera to compare it with, but Flickr already has tons of N73 shots here.

When I slide the door open, the camera application takes about 3 seconds to open, which isn’t perfect but it’s not bad. When I take a picture, the lag is less than 1 second which is very good.

The camera app has 2 sets of settings. There’s the main settings which define where pictures are stored and such, which are saved. Then there’s the ‘active toolbar’ on the right of the screen which define the scene, exposure, white balance, self-timer, flash mode and so on. These are on the default setting when you start the camera and you need to change them. You can define sets for these settings, but you still starts in ‘auto’. This is one minor issue, since if for example you wanted flash to be always off unless you specify otherwise, I haven’t found a way to do that.

After taking pictures, you can edit them in the picture editing program, which I think is great. You can crop, resize, add text, change brightness, red eye and so on. Most phones and even cameras don’t have that built in. Videos work in the same way and it’s very simple to switch from picture to video mode. With videos you can also create a ‘muvee’ which is basically a video with sounds, pictures and text.

The gallery works in landscape mode and this is something some people don’t like. Also by default the gallery loads the last picture taken, as well as every image and video on the phone. This is somewhat weird to me since who would want to view everything in a mixed order. There is a way to view things in a much more sane way, with albums. You can add pictures to an album, and by going to Options -> View albums you can view your pictures categorized. I wish there was a way to go there directly instead of going by the gallery but I haven’t found if it’s possible.

Pictures and videos are stored automatically on the phone, and you can send them in the usual ways by MMS, bluetooth, e-mail, print them and so on. One interesting thing they added is the possibility to send them to your Flickr account or Lifeblog directly.

I haven’t made a lot of calls yet but so far the RF is fine. I had no problem using both the loudspeaker and the normal one. All the usual S60 settings are there and there’s nothing special to say about the N73.

Web browser
The phone comes with 2 different icons for web browsing. Services is the normal WAP browser, and Web is the new Nokia web browser. Some people don’t like it, but I love browsing the web this way. You basically see the whole page as it would be seen on a PC screen, and you move in the page with the joystick. The browser supports all the basic web features such as javascript, cookies, cache and so on. It also has a special Feeds folder in the bookmarks for RSS feeds.

One interesting thing is loading web pages is much faster on the N73 than it was on my 6620, using the same SIM card from the same location. I don’t know if the 6620 supported a slower type of EDGE but it’s visibly faster.

Another nice thing about this phone is the vast amount of applications that come bundled in.

The phone has the usual Messaging application. It allows the sending and receiving of MMS, SMS and e-mail, as well as creating mailboxes to communicate with various mail servers. One thing I noticed that is different than my old phone is the mail setup wizard which makes the creation of new mailboxes less confusing. Also the inbox can display each headers using 2 lines which shows more information in the listing.

The Music Player has a very basic interface but it’s pretty nice. When you open it, it scans the device for music. If you want to add music to it later, you have to make it scan again. You can access play lists and such from there.

Real Player is a common one for all S60 phones, and other than a new splash screen it’s pretty much always the same thing.

Flash Player is built in, I think mainly because Nokia wanted to add a nice looking tutorial. The tutorial shows in a very graphical yet basic way what the phone can do. There’s no other flash file included but if you look around the web there’s various flash files that are made for the mobile flash player.

The visual FM radio is quite nice too, and works like any normal FM radio tuner, with support for visual stations too. Using the included headset I had no problem listening to local stations.

The clock is exactly like the one on my 6620, except that it includes a ‘world clock’ which is basically just a list of various cities. It would have been nice to include a world map with timezones and such, instead of just a list.

The calendar also includes standard features you find on other phones, and with Active Standby, it’s so nice to at last be able to see calendar entries for the day on the standby screen, which my 6620 couldn’t do.

They also included office tools such as Quickoffice to view MS Office documents and Adobe Reader to view PDFs. I only tried Adobe Reader and it displayed the documents fine, but will run out of memory if you try to view anything remotely big.

There’s also built in IM, which I haven’t managed to setup right.

Lastly there’s a chinese-english dictionary, and an icon to download an Anti-virus program which I didn’t do.

It’s the best smartphone for multimedia purposes, and if you don’t need wi-fi, then the N73 is really the best choice.

The main qualities are:

  • The screen
  • The battery life
  • The camera quality
  • Built in applications.

The bad points include:

  • The camera and gallery freezes and out of memory errors
  • The lack of wi-fi
  • The thickness of the phone

Total score: 9/10