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Nokia 7280 GSM Mobile Phone

Editor's rating (1-5):
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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.

Nokia 7280

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.

Nokia 7280

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.

Nokia 7280

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.

Nokia 7280

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 Navi™Spinner 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 Treo 650. 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.

size comparison

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

Sample photo, above: Sammy the cat, on a gray day.



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

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 between charges.

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.

Web Site:,

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.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 1000 mA. 1800 mA extended battery available for purchase.

Performance: Intel 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.

Size: 4.47 x 2.78 x .53 inches. Weight: 4.67 ounces.

Phone: GSM

Camera: 1.3MP

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Pocket Media Player 10 included for your MP3 pleasure.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b (also supporting LEAP) and Bluetooth.

Software: Windows 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.

Expansion: 1 SD (Secure Digital) slot supporting SDIO and SDIO Now!.


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