Nokia N73 review: Pole position

Michal Sedlák, 28 August 2006.

Once up, once down

Except for the above mentioned three buttons located on the side of the phone, all other keys are situated beneath the display. The phone has a joystick and it is the main navigating tool. It is more slippery than stiff. It is quite a pity that Nokia N73's designers did not use the solution they applied in Nokia E60, where they covered the head of the control element in rubber. Context keys as well as the earphones for call control beneath them are perfect. The context keys are spacey and look as if truly made of metal; press is exact, mechanic elaboration is excellent.

One of the most attractive elements of Nokia N73 appears to be the glossy plastic frame around its keypad. Hidden in it you will find a key for access to the menu, an editing pencil, the cancel "C" button, and a pretty new key for all S60 models - the so called "multimedia" key. The latter first appeared on Nokia N70 and later on Nokia N80. A press-hold on it opens the respective pre-selected application. Or you can press it short and then use the four-way key to run one of the four applications assigned to each way (their distribution is schematically visualized on the display).

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Keypad details

All four keys inside the glossy bar are very comfortable to use. What I am not going to praise is the numeric part of N73's keypad. Every time I need to write a message or type a new number, I wander whether Nokia designers had forgotten everything they were taught at school about ergonomics when they were working on Nokia N73. Why? Instead of differentiating keys (by cascade distribution for example) they have separated them by projections. It has been a week now since I started to test the phone and I am still not able to get used to its keys; I am making typing errors all the time. Besides, the numeric part of the keypad looks rather cheap as the plastic material used for its elaboration is not appropriate for such a high-class handset. To sum up, I recommend you to test Nokia N73's keypad before you decide to buy the phone.

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Main block of keys

Keys backlighting is good. Everything works as it should: the green and red buttons glow in their typical colors; the area of the joystick is illuminated too. The rest of the keys are illuminated in deep blue. As we mentioned earlier, the memory card slot is also backlighted.

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Keypad backlighting

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Backlighting of lateral buttons

More equipment

Nokia N73 uses the latest version of the OS Symbian 9.1 and the S60 3rd Edition user interface. This Symbian version is both more extensive and safer. On the other hand, nearly all programs, including the cheapest ones, compatible with it, require special certificates. In this new system one can update firmware by air, that is, through the use of mobile networks (not tested yet though). Nokia N73 also offers USB Mass Storage and a brilliant Web browser.

Most customers reacted quite negatively to the new interface applied together with the new OS, as it requires the installation of all applications all over again and most of all - their additional purchase. No program designed for older Symbian versions is compatible with the new version. What's worse, till very recently there were very few programs compatible with S60 3rd Edition. Even though nowadays the situation has changed for good significantly, some popular programs are still hard to find.

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The main display of the new Symbian

The main display features the favorite active stand-by display, in which 6 selected applications can be instantly run by the user. Visualized beneath its icons are all events of the day including the nearest oncoming one as well as the tasks that still need to be accomplished. Both the calendar and the task manager can be accessed by a single confirming press. When music is playing or the radio is on, the name of the running file also appears on the main display.

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Music minimized in active stand-by display

As work with the active stand-by display requires the use of the joystick, the four ways of the latter can not be assigned other functions in a common manner. This is only possible using the special multimedia key located above the cancel key. For more details, have a look at the above presented video.

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Multimedia menu and its settings