Nokia 7280


13 Jan 2005

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Product: Mobile phone
Price: €659
It’s official — the battle of the sexes has come to the mobile phone! No device has caused so much reaction or division as the new Nokia 7280. Simply put: men hate it, women love it.

The test of such an assertion is usually revealed when a new phone for review is unwrapped in the silicon republic.com office. Busy people marching past glance at the rustling noise before quickly diverting to see what’s in the box. Within a minute I can glean what the average person on the street would make of a new device in terms of size, colour, features, price and so on.

When the “lipstick phone” as I call it was unveiled in the office we were all stumped. This phone looks like a stick of make up. Well, lipstick for someone with giant lips, anyway. With its black, white and red art deco look — it even has a mirror — we were confused as to how it worked. Where was the keypad? Where was the screen? It took us five minutes — and a phone call to Nokia’s public relations team — to realise that the mirror is the screen. Termed “distinctively bold” by Nokia, this is a fashion accessory that passes itself off as a phone.

The reaction in the office was very interesting. The women loved it, practically cooing over it like it was a newborn baby. Its look was appealing; it was not so much a conversation enabler as it was a conversation starter. It belonged.

The blokes, however, were disgusted. Not only was it impractical but it was a “girly phone”. They don’t like it, they never will. Thankfully for Nokia it is a limited edition phone — a concept phone that accidentally made the market. However, whether Nokia likes to admit it or not, it has a history of making quite masculine phones, so we blokes can’t have it all our own way. Remember the “Matrix” phone? Hit a button on the side and it acted like a flick knife or that blade the villain in James Bond kept in his shoe. And just look at the present batch of N-Gage devices. Bulky, stylishly dark, masculine and with as much finesse as a bottle of Old Spice.

The 7280 should appeal to the iPod generation. There is no keypad, instead the device navigates using a kind of click wheel. It features a digital camera that you access by sliding the device apart, so the spy metaphors are apt. The logic behind the click wheel is that the fashion divas using it will only be contacting people on their SIM’s phone book. Mind you, I have images in my head of the harpies emerging from Renards or Lillies at four in the morning struggling to ring a taxi using the phone’s complicated number-entry system. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see a disheveled party girl rummaging through her handbag trying to answer her phone and screaming “Hello!” into her harmless lipstick.

All in all, the 7280 is a concept phone that went to market. Rumours abound that old Nokia phones are now becoming collectors’ items so this limited edition could end up in a museum rather than a multitude of handbags. Attractive but complicated, this phone will appeal to the ladies but will confound the men. No surprise there. The phone is available SIM-free from Nokia for €659.

By John Kennedy