Nokia 7610

11 Nov 2004

Product: mobile phone
Price: €599 SIM-free; €349 on contract
There was once a time when all that mobile phone buyers wanted was a small phone; the smaller the better. In fact, there was a bit of competition in pubs over who would have the smallest phone and anything bigger than a bar of chocolate was labelled “a brick” and was not cool.

Lately however, especially with the proliferation of ‘clamshell’ devices, everything has been slowly ramping back up again in terms of size. It’s as though the mobile industry has been loading these devices so full of all kinds of additional features (such as cameras, web surfing and multimedia messaging) that it’s all the manufacturers can do to keep up by stuffing them full of

With that in mind, Nokia was in the vanguard of the movement to drive down phone sizes and — despite having misread the desires of mobile consumers by prematurely dismissing the clamshell trend – it has been just as guilty of pushing back up the size of mobile devices to relative bricks as its competitors.

While I admit that the Nokia 7610 is not a brick per se, it is more like an ornament that would grace your grandmother’s home, right under the rank of ducks immortalised in the act of scaling the living room wall. However, unlike those immortal ducks, this ornament might actually fly.

When I handed the phone to friends they tended to weigh it in their hands and mutter apologetically: “It’s a bit big, isn’t it?” before suddenly becoming immersed in some feature of the phone that I had not yet seen. Two minutes later it was a struggle to take the phone back from said friends.

While I may describe it as an ornament and hadn’t intended to use it for long, the Nokia 7610 is a beautifully crafted product that is actually enjoyable to use and boasts many multimedia features that make the phone very much of its time. The device I used was already branded by Vodafone Live!, which meant I instantly began to access the latest news and information services such as weather, Lotto and cinema listings.

The device also boasts many connectivity features expected in new Nokia devices such as Bluetooth and USB — perfect for transferring pictures — as well as an extremely large 65,000 colour screen and an integrated megapixel camera. Unlike most cameras these days that claim to have video recording features, the 7610 actually can record up to 10 minutes of good quality video which can be stored on 8MB of internal memory and a 64MB multimedia card.

A good friend of mine who is a proponent of the digital media movement showed me how easy it was to transfer videos over Bluetooth. Very soon afterwards I was watching U2’s Vertigo ad for the Apple iPod as well as a studio video of The Hives. The device also features a RealOne Player for playing music and videos as well as Movie Director software for editing your video clips. The camera was a revelation with its high-quality multipixel screen and matching camera, which boasted an easy to use zoom feature.

It also has a night-time mode that allows you to take good pictures at night without using a flash.

One drawback, however, is the camera’s ability to process the information, which means holding the camera in place and urging the target to hold still for a couple of seconds. The downside of this situation was experienced by your correspondent on Halloween night while trying to get a two year-old niece dressed up as a witch not to behave as a witch and sit still. The result was a lot of ghostly shots of a blurred cape, orange makeup and mischievous blue eyes that only the brightest imagination could conjure up as a little girl.

All in all, the Nokia 7610 is a solid, easy-to-use device that will appeal to the style conscious, but also to the savvy customer who wants to be at the cutting edge of technology. Its glitzy appearance will make it a conversation starter.

The phone is available for €349 on contract and €599 SIM-free including Vat.

By John Kennedy