Nokia N73 – Cameraphone disapoints (long)

About seven months ago I bought a Nokia N73 camera phone as part of a contract with the 3 network. Although initially I was very impressed with this, and the service, I think a lot of this was simply down to the “excitement” of buying some new technology. As a fair amount of time, and a lot of use, has passed I felt it would be reasonable to do a “mid term” review. Some of the issues (good and bad) I have with this device are difficult to pin down to being the responsibility of either Nokia or 3 so I will talk about both here. For the terminally impatient, I can summarise this by saying that given unrestricted choice in the future I would neither buy a Nokia N73, nor would I connect to 3. This said, the things I find important may differ from every one else, so your mileage may vary…

First off, I haven’t had any problems with the Nokia when it came to making telephone calls. In this, most basic of features it worked perfectly 🙂 . Sadly, this is about the only feature where I haven’t found things which annoyed me! If you only want a phone to make (and occasionally receive) calls then the Nokia N73 is brilliant. However, if this is all you want, there are a million other makes and models which would serve your needs at a fraction of the cost.

I was looking for a phone which would allow me to take photos, access the internet, send emails and maintain a basic calendar service. I could have opted for a PDA but connectivity would still have been an issue. In a given month I use the phone more for text messages, emails, note taking and photos (over 2000 to date) than I do for basic calls. As a result, this is not an ideal phone.

Staying with the basic functions, receiving calls seems to be a challenge for this phone. Working my way through the user manual, I set up a variety of ringtones for different callers / caller groups. This is good as it allows you to “know” who is calling before you look at the phone. Sadly, when I set this up, the phone crashed and rebooted every time someone called me. This is pretty damming, and rendered the phone unusable. Oddly it took me some time to work out that it was down the the ring tone thing (if indeed it was), so for a few weeks everybody who called me thought I was hanging up on them. As making and receiving calls is the fundamental thing you want a phone to do, it is odd that they set up something which causes the phone to reboot if you try to use it…

In a similar manner, good old 3 network has gone a long way towards making it nearly impossible for me to use the phone unless I am in a large urban area. When I was in the shop, I was assured that the coverage included where I live and that if the 3g signal dropped it would use a “normal” network and I could still make voice calls. For about three months this was the case. For some reason, since around January this year I have almost no signal where I live. If I go to the end of the garden, stand on the fence and stretch my arms out, I get a weak signal which makes conversations sound like they are being run by Dr Who’s special effects team. I am moving soon, so things may improve, but suffice to say as soon as this contract runs out I will change networks.

The next “basic” thing people tend to expect from a mobile phone today is the ability to send text messages. Nokias are brilliant at this. The Nokia predictive text is easy to use and this phone is no different to that. Composing text messages is a dream. The phone does fall down when it comes to sending the text though (even in a full strength signal area). Press send and the world goes all odd… First off, the phone locks for about 60 seconds. The display freezes (often with a mix of the message and “normal” display showing) and nothing works. Then, it clears with the message waiting icon showing – only for the display to lock again for around 15 – 30 seconds. Finally (about a minute and a half after pressing send) it claims the message is being sent. Seriously. My phone is doing this every single time I send a text now. Despite what the phone is saying to me, the texts are being sent – I have had people reply in less time than it has taken my phone to “unfreeze.” Annoying is an understatement, especially as if people phone while the phone is frozen they go straight to voicemail and it can be days before I realise I have as missed call.

The only thing I can put this down to, is the Symbian OS which drives the phone. It seems strange talking about a telephones Operating System, but the fact is that a modern phone is a lot more than simply a device which allows us to talk. This “freezing” problem affects lots of other applications as well. When taking photos, not only is there a massive delay between pressing the capture button and the phone deciding to take the photo (the click sound is normally a few seconds before the shutter action, which causes all manner of blurs…), but every now and then the phone freezes and needs it’s battery removed to continue working. This happens in lots of applications and is more than a little annoying. It strikes me that either Nokia or Symbian are asking the OS / Hardware to do more than it is capable of doing and this is causing problems. I don’t have access to task manager or “ps & kill” to get rid of spurious programs hogging resources, so there is no alternative to the “hard reboot.”

Sadly, it seems the phone was advertised as having a better capability than it really did. If they were honest and said it ran very few applications, or sold it as having less functions then I wouldn’t really complain, but I would never have bought the camera.

One of the “selling points” for me was the Nokia Lifeblog software. Oddly, 3 decide not to bundle this with the camera so you have to download it and install it yourself. This is easier said than done, as when I tried it the software claimed it didn’t work with the N73 version of Symbian OS. As with most things involving this phone, it lied through it’s teeth and it does work fine with the phone. Sadly Lifeblog’s main functionality doesn’t actually work with WordPress (it is set up to interact with TypePad blogs) and I really don’t have the skill to get the API talking to WordPress, nor the time to search for a plugin someone else has written. I must point out though, that the flickr connectivity is brilliant. It is one of the few things about the phone which seems to work well.

Battle Abbey - Taken with Nokia N73 CameraphoneAfter a long stream of complaints, there are some good points about the phone. It’s camera is really very, very good. As a camera it is on a par with lots of dedicated digital cameras (especially low end ones) and certainly outperforms a camera you can buy for under GB£50. This picture is an example, very little was done in the way of framing or setting it up, it was simply a point and click with the phone on “landscape” setting. (Picture taken at Battle Abbey, 6 May 07).

As a phone, it is a brilliant camera, however as this is marketed as a “PDA” type device (it has mobile office software for example), it certainly does fall short of it’s promises. The web brower is plagued with the faults the rest of the phone has. I was in a hurry, trying to check something online, and after trying to download a 30kb file for three minutes I gave up. I have never been big on phone-browsing the web and this phone reinforces my bias. I could try and install Opera for Mobiles but that defeats the purpose of this being an easy to use, simple to set up, device.

I am a fan of Nokia phones in general, I find them easy to use and easy to get “things” for (although Nokia have changed the power adaptor now, which is infuriating) so I will probably end up getting a Nokia next time – unless I find a different make which is as easy to use. Suggestions and comments welcome.

[tags], 3g, bad service, Bad Shops, Cameraphone, Cell Phone, communication, Hardware, hutchinson, mobile phone, N73, Nokia, Nokia N73, Opera, phone, Phone Browser, symbian, Technology, Telephone, three[/tags]

3 thoughts on “Nokia N73 – Cameraphone disapoints (long)

  1. About the bugs you mention, two words: “software upgrade”. 🙂

    Look for it in the Nokia web site. It’s free, though you will lose all your data, so back it up first. Of course, it may be that your phone is “crippled” by your provider, and can’t be upgraded except by them…

  2. Thanks for the pointer. I did try it a few months ago, but nothing, and for some reason it just slipped my mind ever since. I will check it out again though.

    It is sad that my phone needs upgrading as much as my desktop though… 🙂

  3. Pingback: Why Dont You Blog? : Nokia N73 Progress

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