Posted March 20, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief
And now for something different, truly different.
The 7280, a member of the "Nokia Fashion Collection" of
art deco influenced phones, owes absolutely
nothing to mobile phone looks and everything to style. More closely
resembling a very large tube of lipstick than any communications
device you've seen, the 7280 is a device you've got to love for
its daring and all-out good looks even if you find it less than
usable as a phone. Available overseas since the Fall of 2004, the
phone is now sold direct in the US by Nokia and is also available
from independent cell phone shops.
Above, the slider open, revealing
the inner red tones. That's the display on the left and the jog
dial surrounded by four control buttons on the right. The speaker
is located in the fabric-clad panel to the left of the display.
Like a pair of Levi's jeans, the phone has a little Nokia fabric
tag on one edge.
Despite its diminutive size,
the Nokia 7280 has a color display, VGA camera, Bluetooth and a
jog dial to navigate the user interface. While it has call send
and end buttons along with two soft buttons for menu interaction,
there is no dial pad. That's right, lightening-fingered dialers
and texters, high fashion and petiteness mean there's no way to
fit a numeric dial pad on this device. Instead you'll use the jog
dial and on-screen input system to enter phone numbers you wish
to dial and text messages. To make life much, much easier, the
7280 comes with voice dialing software so you need not resort to
the jog dial number input, and syncing software to get your contacts
into the phone. If you usually call the same cast of regulars,
voice dialing can work well for you. However, if you frequently
need to dial numbers not in your address book, you'll need a good
deal of patience.
The Nokia 7280 is a Series 40 GSM
triband phone with EDGE and GPRS for data. It's sold in Europe
and though it's not currently offered by US carriers, it is available
from importers, independent T-Mobile dealers, and appears
on Nokia's own USA web site.
Design and Ergonomics
This is simply a stunning phone.
The gloss black finish and white deco patterned contrasting lines
could gain the Nokia a seat in the Museum of Modern Art. Two suede-like
panels, one over the earpiece, the other on the side, give the
phone grip and interesting tactile accents. While as tall as the Dell
Axim X50 Pocket
PC at 4.53" , the 7280 is only 1.26" wide and .75" deep.
Weighing in at 3 ounces, it's the bantam weight among phones, and
won't add heft or stretch today's trendy micro-purses. The phone's
curving edges and rhomboid shape are interesting and surprisingly
comfy, making it easy to keep the phone securely in hand. Should
you prefer to dangle it from your wrist, the included leather black
and red strap which mounts to the Nokia's bottom edge will do the
trick. The included wrap-around leather case fastens shut with
snaps and is black on the outside, red inside.
Above: top edge. You can see the
phone has a rhombus shape rather than rectangular. The white accent
on the end glows red when the phone is powered on or off and when
the phone goes to sleep.
The phone's color display doubles
as a mirror when the display is turned off. Perhaps we could say
this is the first phone that helps you look your best? The display
itself is quite small at 1.5" and 104 x 208 pixels, yet it's
sharp and easy to read. It's colorful as well and
comes with a selection of themes and screen savers that make good
use of that color and blend well with the phone's aesthetics.
Back view with slider open showing camera lens.
Front view, slider closed.
How do you hold and use this phone?
To talk you'll hold it upright in a vertical orientation. The earpiece
and mic align perfectly with the face and it's surprisingly comfortable
to use the phone. When interacting with the on-screen menus or
shooting photos, you'll hold the device horizontally, as shown
in the photo at the top of this review.
The Nokia takes a new spin on the
slider design. The slider opens 1/2" to reveal the camera lens
and some artistic red highlights (all phones in the Nokia Fashion
Collection are black and white with red accents). Want to answer
a call? Slide open the phone to automatically answer, or you can
use the call send button if you're feeling retro. To end a call,
slide the phone shut or press the call end button.
To navigate on-screen menus and input numbers
and text, you'll use the two soft keys next to the display and "Nokia's
keyless dial". The spinner works in a similar fashion to the
Apple iPod control wheel, allowing you to move up and down among
menu items and select them by pressing the action button in the center
of the spinner. After a day's practice, the spinner is reasonably
easy to use and you'll find yourself hitting the mark most of the
time rather than spinning past selections or failing to nudge the
dial sufficiently. While menu navigation is fairly easy, entering
numbers and letters by spinning through the alphabet and numbers
will likely keep you busy much longer than you like. Give yourself
a full minute to enter a 10 digit phone number.
Phone Features, Reception and Data
If you're in Europe, Asia or use T-Mobile in the
US as your carrier, then this triband phone can work for you. It
supports the 900/1800/1900MHz bands but lacks the 850MHz band used
by Cingular and AT&T Wireless in the US. Those carriers also
use the 1900MHz band but you will suffer reduced coverage because
they do rely heavily on 850 in many areas. T-Mobile uses only the
1900MHz band in the US which makes this phone a good option for use
with their service. If you travel to Europe (900MHz) or Asia (1800MHz)
the 7280 will be a good international traveling companion. The 7280
is commonly sold unlocked for use with any GSM carrier.
We were underwhelmed by the 7280's reception, due
in part to the high standards set by most recent Nokia phones which
have some of the best RF in the industry. The 7280 had average reception
for a GSM phone, pulling in a moderate signal that's good enough
to hold a call with one or two bars but not on par with the truly
excellent Nokia 7610. The Nokia has
GPRS and EDGE (aka eGPRS) for data. You can surf the web using the
included WAP/XHTML browser, or use the phone as a wireless modem
over Bluetooth with a PDA or notebook.
The 7280 has voice dialing, voice command, and
a 1,000 contact address book. Before using voice dialing, you'll
need to record a voice tag for the desired contact. The Nokia uses
tags which tend to be very accurate, though they are tied to the
person who recorded the tag and you will need to record a tag for
each contact you wish to voice dial.
Volume through the earpiece is quite good, especially
for a phone of this size. Sound clarity and both incoming and outgoing
voice are excellent, as you'd expect from Nokia. The speakerphone
is adequate and voice call quality is both good and loud using wired
and Bluetooth headsets. A 2.5mm stereo earbud headset is included
with the phone.
Nokia makes some of the best camera phones
and even their VGA offerings don't disappoint. Images are sharp,
reasonably color-accurate and have fairly low noise for a VGA
affair. That said, the 7280 isn't among the best of recent Nokia
camera phones. Images are pretty good, but they have more noise
than those taken with the admittedly higher resolution Nokia
7610 and the VGA palmOne
However color accuracy is good and the camera does well with low light settings.
Given the device's design and small lens, the 7280 lends itself
to stealth photo taking with a James Bond flair. Images are
saved in JPEG format and you can send them via MMS, IR, Bluetooth
or transfer them to your PC using PC Suite.
Like many higher end
Nokia phones, the 7280 ships with PC Suite. This is certainly
a blessing given the cumbersome method of entering contacts,
appointments and other data directly on the phone. Less than
a blessing is the challenge of establishing Bluetooth communications
with your PC using PC Suite and Windows XP service pack 2 which
insists on manhandling your existing Bluetooth drivers and
replacing them with Microsoft's own de-featured set. That said,
should you have a happily functioning Bluetooth adapter on
your PC, or an IR port, you'll be able to sync PIM data and
photos with your desktop machine and backup the phone.
From left to right: Sony Ericsson T610, Nokia
7280, Nokia 7270 and the Audiovox
SMT5600 (aka Orange C500).
Mac users aren't left
in the dark. Nokia Collector is included for syncing and transferring
files such as images and videos. This software uses a drag
and drop interface for file management and doesn't support
PIM syncing. Nokia recommends using iSync and iCal to sync
your contacts and calendar on the Mac under OS X.
Sample photo, above: Sammy the cat, on a gray
Indeed, the Nokia 7280 has Bluetooth, though
some might think it a shame to keep the phone hidden in a pocket
or purse when chatting on the phone. In Europe, wired headset users
are considered fashion newbies, so Bluetooth is a must. And we
love Bluetooth headsets for their convenience and safety when driving
or doing anything that requires manual dexterity while on the phone.
As with all Nokia phones, Bluetooth pairing and functionality are
top notch. We tested the little beast with a variety of current
headsets supporting the required Handsfree profile and experienced
no troubles and good range.
Battery life is a weak point, and the 7280 didn't
come close to the manufacturer's quoted standby time of 10 days,
and the quoted 3 hour talk time fell a bit short at approximately
2.2 hours. If you're a heavy phone user, you'll charge the Nokia
7280 every other day. Light phone users will get by with 3 days
This is one of the few cell phones that does
not have a user replaceable battery. With other phones, you can
open the battery door and swap in a new battery if you own a spare.
The 7280 has no battery access door and will have to take a trip
to the repair center when the battery no longer holds a charge
(fortunately that shouldn't be for at least two years).
When extreme good looks, uniqueness and beyond
everything else, fashion counts, this is the phone for you. Undeniably
classy and attractive, this phone also offers good usability in
every department except the missing number pad. Sporting some of
today's must have features such as a camera, Bluetooth and voice
dialing, the phone is nonetheless expensive by feature and fashion
phone standards. Then again, nothing else quite looks like it and
you'll never complain about its size and weight. The large 1,000
contact address book, voice dialing and voice command make the
phone usable if you generally dial mainly from contacts and not
the local yellow pages.
Pro: Has extreme
good looks and makes a stunning fashion statement. Slide open to
easily answer calls. Good voice quality and volume. Has voice dialing
and command, speakerphone and Bluetooth for headsets. Display is
sharp despite its small size.
Con: No number pad!
Battery life isn't stellar and battery isn't user replaceable.
VGA camera is just adequate.
Price: approx. $499 US, less with contract (price
varies with carrier subsidy)
Display:65K color t ransflective
TFT color LCD. Screen size diagonally: 3.5". Resolution:
240 x 320, supports both portrait and landscape modes.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1000 mA. 1800 mA extended battery available for purchase.
XScale PXA 255 400 MHz processor. 64 MB built-in RAM
(55 megs available). 32 MB Flash ROM with 2.85 megs
available in File Store for your use.
x 2.78 x .53 inches. Weight: 4.67 ounces.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 10 included for your MP3 pleasure.
WiFi 802.11b (also supporting LEAP) and Bluetooth.
Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition operating system.
Microsoft Mobile Office suite including Mobile versions
of Word, Excel, PowerPoint (view only), Internet
Explorer, and Outlook. Also, Terminal Services, MSN
Instant Messenger for Pocket PC, Windows Media Player
10, Solitaire, Bubble Breaker (game), Voice Recorder
as well as handwriting recognition. Additional applications:
Camera, Wireless Manager, GoodLink requires account),
Wireless Modem (use the phone as a modem over BT,
IR or USB), Audible Player, Clear Storage (wipes
out all data and resets unit to factory defaults).
ActiveSync 4.0 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.
SD (Secure Digital) slot supporting
SDIO and SDIO Now!.