Nokia N70 Smartphone

Hi all, I bought a Nokia N70 last week and here's a quick review on it.

Front:


Rear, with camera slider open:


Main features
  • Weight: 126 g
  • Main color display: 176x208 pixels, up to 262,144 colors
  • 2 megapixel camera (1600 x 1200 pixels) with 20x digital zoom
  • Second VGA camera (640 x 480 pixels ) with 2x digital zoom
  • Played formats (decoding): MP3, AAC, Real Audio, WAV, Nokia Ring Tones, AMR, AMR-WB, AMR-NB, AU, MIDI, H.263, JPEG, JPEG2000, EXIF 2.2, GIF 87/89, PNG, BMP (W-BMP), MBM, MPEG-4 and eAAC+
  • Up to 22 MB of internal dynamic memory for images, contacts, text messages, multimedia messages, ringing tones, images, video clips, calendar notes, to-do list and applications
  • Expandable memory: Reduced Size Dual Voltage (1.8/3V) MultiMediaCard (MMC). Hot swappable.
  • FM Radio, MP3 player, Video player
  • Integrated Bluetooth wireless technology v.2.0
  • USB 2.0 full speed via Pop-Port™ interface
  • WAP 2.0 XHTML/HTML multimode browser
  • Talk Time: Up to 3.5 hrs
  • Stand-by Time: Up to 11 days


The main thing to note is that this is a 3G Smart phone. It can browse the internet at broadband speeds, and can stream TV channels over the 3G network. It runs the Symbian Series 60 operating system which has a good range of third party applications available for it including TomTom Navigator.



Physical build quality

The phone feels solid. The construction is plastic, with a metal insert in the front which surrounds the buttons and the screen. Compared to the Nokia 6230 (pictured below), it is bigger and heavier - but it does house a larger screen and a lot more features. The N70 and 6230 are exactly the same thickness. The buttons have a tactile feel, but may be a little too small for comfort for some users.

The camera slider on the back automatically puts the phone into camera mode. It has a 'springy' action, so is unlikely to fall open on its own. It doesn't feel as solid as the rest of the phone, but I can't see it breaking.

Being a Nokia, it is unlikely that the silver paint would fade or be affected too badly by small scratches. However the case is not the 'quick-remove' style, so getting any damage repaired is likely to be quite costly.

The screen is very bright (brightness can be changed) - certainly on par with the Nokia 6230:





Camera

There are two cameras - a 0.3mp one on the front for video calls (which also allows you to use the phone as a mirror), and a 2.0mp one on the back with a flash. A button on the lower right hand side of the phone makes taking portrait photos easier.

The main camera is fairly good compared to other camera phones - the high resolution gives it an advantage over most. It has options to change the Scene (Auto/portrait/landscape/night/sports); Flash (on/off/auto); White balance; Timer; and Colour tone. One key feature it misses is an auto-focus (present on many of the new Sony Ericsson phones). Even so, photos tend to be acceptable, but still no-where near the quality of even a mediocre dedicated digital camera.

The camera is also capable of taking videos. The flash is good for illuminating close up items, but is not greatly powerful - so taking pictures of objects a fair distance away in the dark would not work. Here are some sample pics:

Close up (no flash):


Close up (with flash):


Distance - spot the squirrel! (no flash):




Software

My phone is provided by Orange UK. The O/S has been tweaked quite extensively, but most of the features are similar to a standard N70. Unlike Nokias of old, the O/S is much more customisable - you can move icons around, delete icons, etc. There is a file manager to delete apps that you don't need.

There are a few games supplied - a 3D version of Snake, and a random card one, as well as a few others. They seem fairly entertaining - but the key to this phone is being able to add a huge number of applications. Third party support for the phone is great, and ports of PC games have long been present on the Symbian OS, such as Doom 1 and 2.

Other software such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Acrobat readers are all installed as standard. These can all read the native formats without having to convert them on your PC first which is a great feature. Obviously though, not all documents will be displayed perfectly if they use complex features.

The menus aren't as fast at loading as they were on the 6230. This may however be due to the meddling of the OS by Orange. I tend to be quite fussy about the speed at which menus load, and I find it just about acceptable on the N70.

Software is supplied to play MP3's, watch Videos (formats supported listed above), edit Videos, listen to the Radio, browse WAP and HTML pages (yup, HardwareCentral works on it!). Third party applications such as an MSN Messenger client can be installed too.

Sound from MP3s, the radio and videos can be played out of the loudspeaker. The sound quality from this is fair, but sounds much better over the supplied headphones.

Texting is very easy to get the hang of if you're used to T9, and the Series60 OS is not plagued by the 150 text limit of the older Noka phones. I can't quote an exact figure, but the capacity goes into the thousands I believe as texts can be stored on the memory card.

Voice recognition is also an integrated part of the OS. It has a voice synthesiser which can read out Contact names. The aim is to mimick the synthesiser to get it to work correctly. This is a great system in theory as you don't have to go through your contact list programming each and every one as you did with older phones. It can also be used to activate shortcuts - I.e. you can say 'Bluetooth' to turn Bluetooth on and off. I've only tested it briefly - it seems to work very well in a quiet room, but not where there is a lot of background noise. It won't stand much of a chance in a busy office or bar.



Battery life

Seems fair - using all the features it will obviously drain the battery life quickly. But even with heavy use of the camera, MP3 player, net and phone calling, it will last a day between charges.

Moderate use will like see 2-3 days between charges, as was true of the 6230 (both use the same BL-5C 900MAh lithium cell).

The N70 has some crafty little power saving features. As you may notice in the pictures, the keys aren't illuminated. This is however not always true. In the top left of the fascia (next to the letter N70) there is a light sensor which constantly monitors the ambient light levels. If it is deemed bright, the screen brightness will lower gradually, if dark it will raise the brightness gradually. The keypad is illuminated with bright blue LEDs, which only turn on if the phone deems it dark enough to do so. The sensors decisions are quite liberal, so you'll always be able to read the buttons if it's getting dark.

Low light:




Bugs

Surprisingly, for a new Nokia, I have not yet discovered any bugs. The N70 has not had the best of reputations for being stable and bug free, but everything seems fine to me so far. The random crashing and blipping of the 6230's MP3 player seems a thing of the past. I will post updates however, if anything does pop up.



Comparisons to Nokias of past (N70 next to the Nokia 6230 and Nokia 8850)

Fronts:


Rears:



Thanks for reading, will post updates as I discover more about it...

Nick