The Nokia N73 - Smartphone, Smart Camera

by Joseph Moran

So adept at picture, video and audio you might sometimes forget it's also a phone.

When you go shopping for a mobile phone these days, almost every device you come across -- except perhaps for a freebie or the most entry-level models -- includes some sort of built-in camera. And while certainly useful, most phone-integrated cameras are not designed (or intended) to replace a dedicated digital camera.

Nokia's N73 camera smartphone may prove to be an exception to the rule, since its camera is more than simply a checklist feature. One of the newest members of Nokia's Nseries family of multimedia-phones, the N73 includes not the garden variety 1.3- or - megapixel camera typically found in smartphones, but has instead a 3.2-megapixel camera with a lens courtesy of venerable optics maker Carl Zeiss. It's also equally adept at video and audio playback, so much so that you might sometimes forget that it's a phone.

Specs & Features
The S60-based (running the Symbian 9.1 OS) N73 is available in three different color combinations—grey/purple, white/red, or white/brown. With support for quad-band GSM as well as WCDMA 2100 *UTMS 3G), you can use the N73 around most of the globe. Data connections will have to be done via cellular networks, because while the N73 includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi is sadly absent from the feature list.

The Nokia N73 Smartphone (front)

You might think a device that was as much camera as phone might be relatively bulky, but the N73 manages measures only 4.33- x 1.92- x 0.74-inches and weighs a scant four ounces. The face of the N73 is dominated by a large 2.4-inch, 240 x 320 pixel, 256k-color depth display that's bright and colorful, with a small light sensor above the display that can adjust screen brightness based on ambient lighting conditions.

Because the screen takes up so much of the N73's frontal real estate, the phone keypad and other buttons are relegated to the bottom third of the device, and due to the cramped quarters are rather smallish (the numeric keypad in particular). The chrome-look function keys that flank the keypad are highly reflective and it can be tough to read their faint symbols.

After taking all the pre-loaded software into account, there's about 42 MB of internal memory left for your data. The N73's software bundle is extensive, encompassing a variety of multimedia, communication, and productivity apps, including messaging and PIM functions.

The Nokia N73 Smartphone (front)

For storage expansion, the N73 offers a mini-SD slot, and even though it's not located in the battery compartment we aren't particularly enamored with its design or placement. Located at the bottom of the phone, you access the slot by pulling open a tiny door with your fingernail, and anyone without nails will find opening the door a challenge. Moreover, since the door is right up against the N73's accessory/sync connector, you're likely to hit its metal pins while trying to open the slot. Frequent card-swappers will not like this layout at all (better plan on getting a 2GB card).

Camera & Audio
You can access the N73's camera by sliding back the protective door that covers the lens, which automatically enables the camera software (every cell phone should have this feature). The N73's camera (with integrated flash) produced very sharp and crisp shots with good color reproduction. There are a number of special camera modes to choose from, including red eye-reduction, close-up, and night modes. For more pedestrian shots (mainly self portraits) the N73 has a second VGA camera on the front of the phone.

The right/top side of the N73 has a dedicated button that takes you directly into the image gallery, where you can view, print, or send your photos. One of the places you might want to send them is to Flickr, since you can access an existing account or create a new one right from the phone.

Befitting a device designed for multimedia, the N73 includes stereo speakers, which are individually located at the top and bottom of the unit, ostensibly to provide a better stereo separation effect. They sound OK but ultimately suffer from the same hollowness inherent in any small speakers.

The included earbuds sound much better, and since the AC adapter uses a dedicated connector you can use them while charging the device. The earbuds also have an in-line volume control and serve as a tuner for the N73's FM radio.

Pricing & Availability
Like many of Nokia's most cutting-edge phones, you won't find the N73 on the menu at any domestic carrier, so if you want one you'll have to shell out anywhere between $475 and about $600 for an unlocked model.

While 3.2 megapixels isn't the most you can get in a camera phone today, the Nokia N73 makes a very capable and well-rounded multimedia device. If the ability to take photos and listen to music is as important to you as making calls then the Nokia N73 is a solid and stylish way to do the job.

Adapted from smartphonetoday.com.

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This article was originally published on Thursday Mar 1st 2007
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