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Review of GSM/UMTS-handset Nokia 7390
The revamped L’Amour Collection 2006 features three models with Nokia 7390 being the flagship of the range. Such approach is somewhat new, as the company has always been trying to empower senior solutions of similar series with off-beat form-factors. Making it easier for you to catch on, we should mention Art Deco and L’Amour collections were topped by “Stick”-shaped handsets – Nokia 7280, Nokia 7380. Giving up on similar eccentric offerings in the recently announced line-up is linked to quite moderate sales of Nokia 7380 that could never make it to the level of Nokia 7280, succeed by dint of fresh concept and singularity. The update model turned out to be somewhat mediocre and thus did not generate that much of hype to attract attention of press or consumers. Renunciation of eclecticism to enhance solution from the practical point of view has been announced in L’Amour Collection 2006.
Thus the range is now topped not by a rotator, but a familiar folder instead, that is so spread and popular nowadays. Minor drop in status of this form-factor as a fashion-solution, is outweighed by Nokia with hardware filling. For the very first time over at Nokia they regard a fashion solution not only as a handset boasting stunning looks, but fairly good functionality as well. That is how come the 7390 carries the most powerful camera available for the S40 (3 Mpix) and runs on S40 Feature pack 1 software kit. Here I should also make a note that this very offering is unique by being the first Nokia’s fashion 3G device.
On top of that, the 7390 grabs everyone’s attention due to more devices within Nokia’s range coming based on this handset but packing their features in different form-factors, including sliders and candy-bars. Generally speaking these are sales package, design, camera and positioning that will be altering from product to product – in this regard Nokia 5300 is identical to Nokia 7390, since these two are more or less equal functionality-wise, saving for camera, form-factor and missing UMTS in the junior solution. In its turn Nokia 7390 is almost a replica of the upcoming Nokia’s candy-bar flagship that inheriting this title from Nokia 6233. And the last, but not the least, being a folder, the 7390 houses external keys, which greatly extends its capabilities.
It’s an open secret that handsets positioning is a thing to be carried out with all due caution – most Nokia-branded fashion solutions have been regarded as women-only devices, that’s why the company has made an attempt to overcome this cliche with its latest collection and get a part of male audience. To make this aim come true, the model comes in two trims - Bronze Black (umber with bronze framings), Powder Pink (light pink).
All in all we are confident enough to take the liberty to call these two colors “the choice of 2006-2007”, as the company is pushing them forwards intensively, and does not limit itself to one or two solutions. Nonetheless other manufacturers, i.e. Samsung, seem to have a different point of view – for example the abovementioned Korean manufacturer picked black color for 2006 and has been promoting black-colored handsets ever since, while in 2007 we are going to see another extreme, as many models are getting varied trims (up to 7 colors for each model). Naturally, it makes all the difference for the consumers that are able to pick a device to their liking, but at the same time dissolves products’ image integrity and blurs their fashion aspect. Probably the best known example is Motorola RAZR V3, initially released in silver that had been the only available color for a whole year, the black and a bit later on pink stepped onto the scene, and by the end of the model’s life cycle avalanche of trims arrived in the market. The intention was simple – not to hurt the handset’s sales on the initial stage and make it an “iconic” device. Now use your imagination and think of what the RAZR would have been, if it had been launched in all colors at once – the product’s image would have changed outright, many periodicals would have featured different trims. The concept of the silver color was aiming to put emphasis on the handset’s airiness and slimness, and after all that time, it has proven to be the right way.
In Nokia’s case we should not expect vast variety of colors in the future, since as such option is not on the company’s to-do list. What Nokia does aim at is binding up fashion items and corresponding trims – this season, for example, features brown and pink. “Items” here are clothes, jewelry and furniture – not only handsets. I take you will be agreeable to the fact that even the most brilliant product with eye-candy design and matching color will look at least strange, if it will be surrounded by items with different trims, that contrast rather than supplement with it.
Up until now we have never touched the question regarding where this or that handset’s color comes from – Nokia 7390’s example allows for looking into that topic. In fact, a handset is a personal item that is a constituent of large world, though it isn’t the whole show. During a year we buy various thing – be it clothes, trinkets or cars and houses (though the latter category is quite rare). The cheaper a purchase, the more extravagant its colors are, and as the price goes higher, consumers’ preferences are getting more and more averaged, in that case traditions and national customs are what really matters. For instance in Moscow one could hardly find a country-house painted in all colors of rainbow – here austere and smooth color schemes are more likely to be discovered. However in Normandy red brick and painted shutters are dominating, since these are the traditions of the region.
Thus, what is left for a manufacturer to look after? The first and the most reliable indicator is fashion industry, which is a litmus paper for all major trends. Another field to examine is car industry that makes up people’s minds on the “right” colors. Why, do you think, black color has been around in the top of the charts for so long? Car manufacturers and Ford in particular has much to do with that – just remember what Henry Ford said: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants as long as it is black”
But let’s digress for a while and describe the target audience for Nokia 7390, which is thankfully evident for most regions: mostly women at the age of 25-40 years with “higher-than-average” income that favor latest trends in fashion and prefer “time-proved” solutions by markets’ leaders. They don’t like walking a tightrope when they buy items and pick seemingly daring solutions that are already the classics or about to jump into that list. Their likings are not revolutionary – they are rather the “followers” that choose a product or a service only after it has proven itself amount enthusiasts and pioneers. As for UMTS, we can rightfully observe that the audience has reached the level when it can seamlessly accept it. The share of men in total amount of Nokia 7390 users is not likely to exceed 20 percent, at that their definitive choice is to fall on the bronze trim. Having defined the product’s audience, now we should consider other handsets manufacturers in order to avoid overlapping of trims (silver and blue are held by Motorola, black and silver are in property of Samsung, Sony Ericsson) and pick up major trends in fashion. Obviously, one could visit all fashion shows, look through specialized magazines and, basically, be an expert in this field. Though, being a man, I have always wanted to find an easier way out – thankfully there are numerous researches of this huge market and its trends available for public, like constantly updated issue on color trends of the upcoming season by Pantone, generally speaking, it’s a good article to start with. You can see color schemes for Spring/Summer 2007 for yourself by following this link.
Now try and see how good Nokia 7390 blends with the dresses cited in that article - in most cases one or another trim is not just “acceptable”, on the contrary, it perfectly matches colors of the clothes. This is a lot of work done by the designers within the company, that’s why Nokia today is one of the leading trend-setters along with Motorola, which tends to evolve materials it applies in the solutions and feelings users get while playing around with them. Until recently Sony Ericsson had been targeting at Techi audience with devices showing off corresponding design – however some changes occurred in its strategy, setting out to bring such design concepts into the mass market lately, though these are only bits and therefore are overlooked by many. The design school of this manufacturer is especially strong, but is developing in a somewhat different way, so that we’d better pass it by in this article.
Apart from color schemes, fashion solutions start getting ornamental pattern onto casings. Nokia pioneered in use of these design elements, but in the end of 2006 this way of decoration is being picked up by various manufacturers. In Nokia 7390 the metal plate rounding the external screen boasts unique patterns for each trim.
Similar framing edging the internal screen is painted in white and also patterned, but remains unchanged for all color schemes of the casing.
If you are in a doubt whether this trend is here for a good long while, take a look at a women-only Samsung E420’s or Sony Ericsson Z558a, released exclusively for the Asian market – they both have more or less the same concept making use of patterned shell.
Probably the best thing about the previous collection, which can be even considered a breakthrough, is a nameplate embedded in every L’Amour-branded device that adds a lot of points to its status. “A worthless trinket” – one might say, however that trinket appeared in the right place and at the right time, it just was what consumers had wanted, so that it became a true symbol. Those who buy fashion handsets prefer purchasing items in various boutiques (clothing as well), where nameplates are extremely wide-spread. On the whole, it’s a well-known element of design that makes people subconsciously recognize an item’s status.
And the last element of the design that emerged on the market following Nokia’s example is leather-covered framings (in Nokia 7200 the coating was made of cloth and thus was exposed to wear and tear). The handset’s rear houses framings made of durable scratch-resistant leather. On pink-colored 7390 they are patterned, while the brown phone features only leather texture. These framings are not only for show – they prevent the device from slipping on inclined surfaces. Undoubtedly, leather is wearing thin with time, though I doubt that will happed to Nokia 7390 sooner than in a year’s time – here the leather is truly scratch-resistant (we deliberately tested that feature of the 7390).
Wrapping it all up, Nokia 7390 makes use of almost every last thing created by Nokia for fashion solutions to date: nameplates, patterned casing, leather framings and trims picked in accordance with the hottest trends in fashion. Quite a lot for a single handset, right?
Talking of colors, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the pink trim is not as practical as the brown one, since it’s a magnet for dirt and dust – ivory surface readily gets soiled. The Bronze Black is likely to generate more profit out of two available trims.
The 7390 weights 115 grams, which is OK for such solution, and measures 90õ47õ19 mm in size. The handset’s dimensions are slightly bigger than average for this form-factor - squared shape with slightly rounded edges has something to do with that as well. The 7390 slips easily into a bag or a pocket – both variants are convenient enough. The developers have also armed the handset with the holes for a carrying strap that are mounted on the upper rim.
Like any other S40 FP1-powered device, this handset comes equipped with miniUSB (USB 2.0) socket that replaces Pop Port. Right here you will find a 2.5 mm audio jack as well, which is compatible with 3.5 mm adapter, allowing for plugging in custom earphones.
Charger’s socket, as well as the power button and Infrared window are mounted on the left side-plate, while volume rocker key and dedicated camera key are located on the right. Such layout originates from landscape-orientated camera mode at closed handset, which means shooting becomes that much easier.
Nokia 7390 is the first device to house external dedicated keys placed beneath the screen – while in standby mode, using these keys you can scroll applications bar and pick the desired one. Though this bar is not customizable – only radio, music player and camera are available for shortcut start up. At that for each of these apps you are at liberty to alter settings, switch between tracks, radio stations, enable camera modes and change them. On top of all that key lock is available. The camera interface can be called up via the dedicated key, but should you have a Java-application working, there is no way the camera will start up.
Nokia has always been aiming at using a folder’s external display to its fullest – the 7390 is another step in that direction. For the time being Nokia’s rivals are passing by similar solutions and prefer focusing on other methods of boosting handsets’ functionality. However not everything is flawless with Nokia’s way of implementation – the external display still cannot show SMS messages, even though, judging by its specs, it’s not a big deal for it, further more, the 7390 doesn’t provide telephone numbers, when notifying you on missed calls (we do hope that later on this feature will get materialized).
As for the handset’s most crucial shortcomings, we just cannot overlook insufficient brightness of the external screen – you won’t have any problems with it only in dark rooms, while in the office or in the sun it hopelessly fades away. Physically, the displays found on Nokia 7390 are replicas of what we saw on Nokia 6131.
The external display features a resolution of 128x160 pixels (21õ27 mm, 1.36 inches) and shows up to 262 K colors (TFT). On incoming calls the image assigned to a contact takes up the entire screen. For the external display the user can set up a wallpaper and changing all major settings.
Flipping the handset open reveals a screen similar to that of Nokia 6131 with a diagonal of 2.2 inches and physical size of 33x46 mm (resolution 240õ320 pixels). The display can hold up to 8 text (biggest possible font size) and 3 service lines, but unlike Nokia 6131 there is something wrong with brightness – the screens looks dim, though one glance worths many words.
Such striking distinction is even more remarkable when playing around with the 7390 – photos won’t give you a definitive idea of it. One might make an assumption that on Nokia 7390 the display is protected with a glass, worsening picture quality, but on closer examination it turns out to be wrong – there is no protective glass here either, at that the external display is dimmer, even though the 6131 has the external display shielded as well. The real explanation should be looked for in battery lifetime – Nokia 7390 outputs slightly better figures than Nokia 6131 in more or less the same operating conditions (better by 10-15 percent), so it seems that’s where the power saved on backlighting intensity has gone to. Traditionally, brightness of both screens cannot be adjusted. Winding up, here we have a truly top-notch display, one of the market’s best offerings, which performs worse in the sense of brightness and thus leaves less favorable impression. Roughly speaking, brilliant specifications of the display are of academic interest, since in reality they have a little to do with what we see and feel. In my opinion, they should have enabled users to set up backlighting brightness and let us choose between vivid picture and battery lifetime. Regrettably, standardization of the platform does not allow for coming up with individual settings for one or another model – once chosen, the platform remains unchanged for all handsets belonging to the range, and apparently that’s the worst thing about it.
In the review on Nokia 6131 we devote a whole part to the missing protective glass on the internal screen; Nokia 7390 feature just the same thing. It would be an end of the story, if if there wasn’t a fundament difference between these handsets – Nokia 7390 lacks auto-opening mechanism and targets mainly at women. The sides don’t have deep finger slots, therefore on flipping the 7390 open with either left or right hands your finger will end up resting on the display. Add the strain required to open the open and guess what happens with the screen as the time goes by. Naturally, it’s almost impossible to break the screen in one sitting – out tests indicate that in a long run, it takes 20000+ touches to put it out of operation. So the margin of safety here is quite enough – how good the 7390 will behave in real life only time will tell. Dirt settles on the screen after a few openings, so that’s the thing to put up with.
The location of the microphone on the 7390 is something new as well, as it’s placed on the right side of the hinge. Nevertheless that doesn’t affect sound quality – be sure you will be head well on the other end. In fact, the mic is where it is only due to the fact the bottom rim housing the loudspeaker – you can see it beneath the keypad when the handset is open.
The rubber pad above the earpiece prevents the keypad from touching the displayed while the handset is closed. The buttons themselves are quite bulky and have soft stroke, which makes them easy to manage. On the whole, handling the keypad brings about only positive emotions, the navigation pad doesn’t let me to find anything to be unsatisfied with. All keys are lit in soft white, which is well-visible in a dark room.
The forward-facing camera for video calls within 3G networks rests above the display, a LED for highlighting you face in darkness is placed here as well. The rear of the 7390 carries a 3 Mpix camera module, as well a LED flash.
The battery cover has only one latch located on the top rim, but doesn’t expose any gap (in case you won’t tap and move the cover with your finger; however it’s not meant for such interactions after all). The 7390 makes use of the BP-5M, which is a Li-Pol 780 mAh battery. As the manufacturer claims, the handset offers up to 220 hours of lifetime in standby mode and up to 3 hours of talktime. In conditions of Russian networks the handset lasted for nearly 2 days at 1 hour of calls and up to 2 hours of music playback (Bluetooth disabled). It takes the handset about 2.5 hours to charge from empty to full.
The slot for microSD cards is hidden under the battery cover – “hot swap” feature is enabled here, as you can change memory cards without detaching the battery. The SIM-card socket is quite unique – it is plugged in a groove and extracted by pushing a tiny lever.
We are not going to speak about default handset’s features, such as phonebook, organizer etc. here, since they are pretty much the same for all S40 3rd edition-based devices and on top of that, have already been covered in great detail on Mobile-Review. The volume of user-manageable memory in this handset makes about 24 Mb (while the total amount of onboard memory is 30 Mb).
The major boosts of the platform are brought about by Feature Pack 1, that’s why are going to cover them briefly (those who have already checked out the review on Nokia 5300 may move on to the paragraph on Camera).
USB. On connection to PC you are at liberty to take advantage of any of these three modes:
During USB-connection the 5300 does not recharge itself, and should you leave it connected for a while, be ready to see an empty battery in 6-7 hours. Data transfer speed makes about 950 Kb/s (USB 2.0), which is quite good for a handset, but at the same time somewhat insufficient for a music-optimized device.
Bluetooth. The handset retains EDR-enabled Bluetooth 2.0 with the following profiles supported:
Bluetooth found in the 7390 puts on acceptable performance and will hardly give you a hard time.
Music player. The player found on the 7390 is a replica of that found on Nokia 5300, with the only difference lying in appearance. When you are at the phone’s standby screen, the player displays track’s title and artist on the screen. When you are at the phone’s standby screen, the player displays track’s title and artist on the screen.
The display offers information on current track, album and artist. The navigation pad is bound up with standard functions (track switch, rewind, and stop). Progressive rewind feature is missing on the 7390 – you can fast-forward tracks at standard 5 sec. pitch, which is completely out of use with big files (audio-books or something like that).
Playback may be random or sequential, Repeat mode works for both all tracks and individual files.
Outside the player’s application you will find Stereo Widening feature, which is, frankly speaking, pretty crude, while equalizers do have an impact on sounding quality. There are five presets (Normal, Pop, Rock, Jazz, Classical) for the five-band equalizer found on the 5300, and two user-customizable ones.
The music library contains the following filter tabs:
Playlists may be composed both on PC and on handset; however the 5300’s set of tools for playlists creation is far from perfection – you just choose a track from the general list and save it as Track List. No extra files can be added to this list, no matter how hard you try – we failed to find such feature. Furthermore, such lists aren’t marked in the media player, which is a serious flaw. Winding the story up, we would recommend the developers to keep on getting this function better.
Music downloading is a stand-alone menu item, featuring only a link to Nokia’s site – after launch of the service Nokia Recommendation will lead there.
Support for A2DP profile on Nokia-branded phones is uncommon at present, which only doubles our please to discover it on the 7390. Sound quality turns out to be worse than that provided by corded headsets – basically, this is the result of specialties of A2DP implementation on Nokia-branded handsets (more details in Nokia 5300 review).
Music Manager application, included into Nokia PC Suite offers only two option when it comes to uploading files on a handset: convert into AAC or eAAC+. What such strict limitations are for is unclear – it might seem that Apple’s success is bothering someone. The best way to share music with a handset is using MTP protocol or copying files to the device directly. But what is more frustrating, is the fact that the first version Nokia Music Manager fails in recognizing ID3-tages correctly, and as a result all the filters found on the 5300 move straightly to “Useless” category (only tracks’ titles remain untouched). For Russian language, one will find support only for Unicode tags, which is the issue of the day for all music phones for the time being.
Since the release of Nokia 6131 Java-machine has not been modified, which means the 7390 puts up the same numbers as the 6131 – slightly higher than average performance. Limitations include standard size of a JAR file cannot exceed 512 Kb Mb, while heap’s size is capped to 2Mb.
As usual, L’Amour Collection offers lots of themes and skins – all of them feature geometrical patterns and look extremely fetching.
The handset offers three games - Snake III (3D), Pro Snowboard (3D, adopted from Sony Ericsson’s phones released in 2004) and Music Guess, which is a truly music-aimed application – the program picks random tracks out of the general list and during playback you need to guess what song is playing.
The applications are: World Time, Nokia Sensor (excellent offering for the youth, which is not so popular at the moment in light of the fact only a few devices have this function, yet it has great potential). The last application on the list is Size Converter.
Nokia 7390 is the first handset running on S40 platform to get a 3 Mpix CMOS-based camera onboard, however large resolution does not mean identical snaps quality with Nseries or Sony Ericsson K800i. Once again I would like to repeat myself – Nokia’s imaging flagships are smartphones, while the S40 delivers moderate camera modules, even though they show off fairly impressive resolutions; however it can’t be helped, as it’s the company’s principled stand.
The good thing about the 7390’s camera is ability to take pictures even when the device is closed, however the external screen is not of much help here due to putting up poor preview. The auto-focus works well – the focusing area occupies three-quarters of a shot on the screen. But on the whole the camera’s quality has a long way to go as compared to top-notch solutions, however on-the-screen quality of taken snaps is good.
The following resolutions are supported:
Two minimal resolutions were added for creating photos that would fit as wallpapers for display. Three JPEG compression types are supported: basic, normal, high. Considering the fact that photos do not blow your imagination away, it is better to set maximal quality, it won’t be worse than it is.
Shutter sound can be disabled, there is 8x digital zoom, but there is no reason to use it. You can save photos on both memory card and internal memory.
Some effects can be applied to already made photos, should they be used initially – it is up to you to decide. Such effects as Greyscale, Sepia, Negative are available.
Those who love to shoot a lot of photos at once, there is corresponding mode for you – camera makes up to 3 shots at a time, all settings remain similar to selected for single shot, including resolution. There is auto-timer for self-shots.
I offer you to look at photos made in different conditions, and I believe you will be able to conduct your own opinion about their quality (maximal resolution, best quality). For comparison we offer you shots made by Sony Ericsson K800i in maximal resolution and quality. In environments with poor illumination, Nokia 7390 matrix’s sensitivity is definitely not enough.
Video. Handset allows recording video in 3GP format, available resolutions – 128x96 pixels, or 176x144, 352x288, 640x480 pixels. Recording quality is divided into three parameters. You can limit recording’s length, but it also can be limitless, until memory runs out (of memory card or internal memory). Effects can be applied for video just as they can be applied for photos, they are one and the same. Video looks quite acceptable when you look at it on handset, including maximal resolution. However you will see artifacts when you view same video on PC, but it is still okay to watch, and that’s a great step forward. In case with 352x288 pixel video clips made by Nokia 6233 and same clips made by Samsung phones, Nokia’s ones look better, they have more natural color rendering. Considering fact that video recording is not a very demanded function by majority of users, here it is made without any concerns. Video recording-wise the model is similar to Nokia 6233, Nokia 6288.
The volume of 64-tone polyphony is enough for almost any conditions. The receiving part also does fine, as it equals all other phones of the current generation. The silent alarm is average strength-wise, but can be still felt while the handset is in pocket.
On Nokia’s official page they have spread a false report regarding support of office documents implemented into the 7390, namely PDF and MS Office. In practice, however, this is not the case. The phone’s specification says: «Email: Supports SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, and APOP protocols. Support for attachments (view jpeg, 3gp, MP3, .ppt, .doc, excel, and .pdf files)». In other words, the handset can receive these attachments and forward them, but by no means open them (specifically these won’t work on the phone - ppt, .doc, excel, .pdf ).
In Europe Nokia 7390 costs at least 420 Euro, while on the Russian market the price for Nokia’s offspring makes 650-700 USD. Taking account of the fashion aspect and materials used, the 7390 is destined for being a bestseller. Drawbacks like mediocre brightness of both the internal and external screens should not be left out, though. All in all the 7390 is a typical women-aimed model, which means very few men will be running it – if you have some concerns about size, worry not, as the sales of Nokia 7270 clearly demonstrated that they don’t make all the difference. When speaking about “incompatibility” with women audience due to somewhat bulky dimensions, we are using a stereotype, as the real sales deny this point of view.
Functionality-wise the 7390 performs well, but should you be aiming at using the handset to its fullest, be ready to buy up extra accessories like memory card, 3.5 mm audio adapter and data cable (any miniUSB will do). However the target audience frequently doesn’t bother about functionality much (at least a half of the audience for sure), that’s why the gloss is what everything is going to be about. In this sense the 7390 is rivaled to some extent by Samsung E500 (women-only model in bronze with a leather-coated framing), but at the end of the day it’s nothing more but an indirect competitor, which leaves Nokia 7390 dominating the market. Definitely, L’Amour Collection and specifically its flagship Nokia 7390 will be a huge success.
SAR value for this model is 0.41 W/kg.
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Published 01 November 2006
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