So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Small, stylish and lightweight, Screen doubles as mirror, 2 megapixel camera with flash, Audio Messaging
- Looks and style over substance, Frustrating text and number entry process, Very small display, Small memory, Expensive
It's not everyone's cup of tea and it lacks some of the more advanced features we're used to seeing, but those who want to stand out in a crowd will probably enjoy this handset.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
Last year we reviewed an extremely unusual, if very unique mobile handset from Nokia. The 7280 won points for an abstract design that would have appealed to a very small section of the market, but it was a largely hit and miss affair due to the lack of a keypad which resulted in a tedious and frustrating text and number input process.
Nokia has just released a new version of this phone, the 7380. Its design and shape is almost the same as its predecessor so the majority of the improvements (if you can call them that; we prefer "changes") are in the looks department. The 7380 is part of the L'Amour series of handsets, which are targeted specifically at women. These phones all possess stylish colours, designs and touches of class such as leather inserts. Basically a Paris Hilton-esque mobile.
The general consensus of such products is that they are all style and no substance. We really didn't want to think this was the case with the 7380, but unfortunately after a long play with the handset, we came to the same conclision. It is clear however, that the target audience of this phone is those who place fashion, style and looks ahead of what's inside the package, so if you purchase this phone you know exactly what you're getting.
Like the previous model, the 7380 uses what Nokia calls the 'Navi Spinner' and this is the replacement for the keypad. The spinner is used to control, nearly every single one of the phones functions; from entering text, to dialing phone numbers and changing settings. Where the 7280's Navi Spinner was a little small, the 7380's has increased slightly in size and this makes for a far more comfortable user experience. Still, we'd prefer a standard keypad any day and although Nokia has done their best to make the phone as easy to use as possible, those who have little patience will be severely tested when using this device.
The L'Amour range of handsets from Nokia all use the same colour scheme; cream, chrome, brown and a small hint of metallic orange. We must say, the design and finish is quite attractive and really does emphasise style in a big way. They aren't for everyone, but those who want to keep up with the latest fashion trends are well served here. In the 7380, Nokia has used a chrome mirror-like finish on the front of the handset which doubles as a screen. When the screen isn't backlit, it can be conveniently used to check how you're looking at the end of a very long night. Unfortunately, while we had no complaints with the quality or crispness of the display, it still is quite small, so you'll be squinting on various occasions during use.
The rear of the phone contains a leather insert, which sits just underneath the camera. Unlike its predecessor, the 7380 doesn't hide the camera lens in a slide out design; the phone is basically a candy bar, albeit a very small and skinny one. Perhaps the best improvement in this handset is the SIM card slot. The 7280 used a small silver slide-out tray which was only accessible using the provided screwdriver tool to open it. Nokia perhaps realised that this wasn't the greatest of inventions and instead has opted for a standard hinged flap which makes it easy to remove the SIM card; this move will be appreciated by most users.
Unfortunately, one of the other issues we had with the previous model has not been fixed; you still have to go into the menu and select "Number Entry" to begin dialing a phone number. Why Nokia couldn't activate the row of numbers at the bottom of the screen as soon as you move the Navi Spinner in the standby screen is a mystery. Thankfully, the menu is a good one; simple, intuitive and extremely easy to use, you shouldn't have any problems here. As well as this, voice dialing was improved from the previous model which was great to note.
The features list of the 7380 isn't too shabby either, with support for SMS and MMS messaging, as well as audio messaging. Nokia's Xpress Audio Messaging system is quite intuitive; simply select it from the messages menu and record your message. It then saves your message and allows you to simply select a phone number and send it as an MMS. There is no entering multiple menus or selecting many functions; it's basically three presses of the Navi Spinner.
Bluetooth connectivity, a 2 megapixel camera with video recording and flash, Media Player, MP3 Music Player, an FM Radio (you'll have to use the included headphones) and Voice recording are all included, while an Alarm Clock, Calendar, To-Do List and Notes round out the PIM features. Unfortunately we were once again disappointed with the lack of any Java applications and the paltry 52MB of internal memory offered with no expansion options.
The 2 megapixel camera performed quite well without being outstanding, but it was definitely a welcome change from its predecessors VGA number. A 4x digital zoom was a nice touch, even though the quality of photos snapped with this feature activated weren't impressive at all. A 10 second self-timer and a flash rounded out the camera options. Images we uploaded to our PC weren't bad, although we have seen better from 2 megapixel camera phones. In fairness, the size of this unit probably detracts from the performance of the camera, so it wasn't a bad effort at all. The camera is capable of snapping images up to 1200 x 1600 pixels and recording video at 176 x 144 pixels.
Battery life is rated at up to 10 days of standby time and up to three hours of talk-time, which is perhaps a little below average. A stylish carrying pouch and a chrome finger strap round out the package.
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