Tag Archive: design


N900 Review: Part-1 — Design

N900 slide out

The QWERTY slides out

N900 is a gorgeous looking device, no I’m serious. Design wise, Nokia has really paid attention to details while crafting this device.

A lot of people out there would probably not agree to this. The N900 clearly borrows from the Nseries design elements – a chrome metallic band across the screen half of the phone. The rear and the sides of the phone are finished in plastic with a ceramic finish. Continue reading

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Nokia 5233 Review Part-1: Design

After having the 5233 for so long and giving you a first impressions of the device, it seems proper to go into the review in detail. The Nokia 5233 is basically your 5800, stripped down to be a simple touchscreen phone that is also ‘smart’. It shares most of its parts with the 5800XM and that’s the main reason why Nokia has been able to bring this into India and various other countries at price point that has never been explored by anyone. Samsung has of course gone even below, but we’ll discuss that some other time.

The 5233 is a completely plastic bodied phone. There is no metal anywhere on the device, unlike the N97 or the N97mini. The Nokia 5233 is clearly aimed at the Corby and Star users. While it is priced slightly higher than the competition, what it brings to the table, differentiates and makes it worth the price.

Now a close examination of the 5233 shows everything is exactly the same as the 5800. On the left there are two slots, one for the SIM and the other for Micro SD card, which is hot swappable. The SIM requires one to open the battery cover and remove it using the stylus. This is a rather unique style of removing a SIM. Inserting is easy, just open the slot cover and pop the SIM inside!

One will also find a small ‘slit’ in between the body and the cover, that is the speaker, carefully concealed in between the two layers.

The right side of the device has more action happening, there is the screen lock in the middle, towards the end, you will find the camera button and on the top are the volume rockers. The screen lock key is a spring loaded key and it’s placement on the right hand side is somewhat odd, at least to me as the N97 has it on the left side.

The bottom is empty save for a small hole which is the mic. The top is slightly crowded and that’s where the connectivity options are located. The Micro USB slot, the 3.5m audio jack, the power slot and the power button are on located on the top of the device. the Micro USB slot is covered, while the rest are open. Now it beats me, why the Micro USB slot was covered and the rest left exposed…

On the white fascia is where one can see the proximity sensor and the earpiece at the top, along with a touch sensitive button that brings out the entertainment and connectivity option for the phone, ala the 5800. The bottom houses three keys – call, menu and the end key respectively. These keys look very different from the ones you will find on the 5800. These keys are thinner and more protruding than on the 5800. This gives the phone a fresh look and also makes using the keys easier.

I think the 5233 deserves a 6/10 in design. A good design and good quality plastic are it’s highlights, but since there is nothing major differentiating it from the 5800, it feels like buying a cheaper stripped down 5800 and not a ‘new’ phone.

Here’s a gallery full of images of the 5233.

Nokia E72 Review Part-1: Design

E72
The Nokia E72

With the first impressions giving you a first hand impression of the Nokia E72 and how it works an feels, you must have realized that I really like this device, but now it’s time for the phone to come under the scanner, it’s time to see what the E72 is all about.

The E72 is a clear successor to the E71, a device which has vowed a lot of people the world over. And without any delay let’s jump to the juicy part of this review.

Design:

The E72 carries the tradition of the E71 and looks like a generation ahead of the E71. This phone is not just merely a little bit of cosmetic changes here and there, but a completely new phone carrying the DNA of the E71. The phone has the build quality that would shame other manufacturers. In fact, I haven’t seen Nokia’s with such high levels of build quality. Nothing seems to rattle or make any noises. Even though it’s a candy bar (which should be the easiest deign to execute) the E72 has excellent fit and finish. As good as some luxury cars. The glossy finish has been replaced with a more matured matte finish and it lends an air of classic sophistication without being loud. It also means the device will look ‘clean’ always, this matte finish also acts as a grip when holding the device.

Keys on the E72

the soft keys along with the one touch keys on the E72

The face of the E72 is totally refreshed and at first I thought the one touch keys would not be easily accessible and foul up with the experience. But I was thoroughly mistaken, those keys are so nicely done up and so comfortable to use that I am really in awe of the designer(s) who thought of it. The soft keys along with the call and ‘end’ keys are finished in a brushed metal finish and it gives the device some life and extends the appeal of it. The optical track-pad, a first for any Nokia phone has been brilliantly executed on the E72 and is extremely addictive and a great solution which eases the pressure on the thumb. Along with it, should you choose to browse faster is the regular D-Pad which serves as the protector for the optical track-pad as well a navigating key. The one touch keys along with the D-Pad and the ear-speaker have a thin line of chrome metal and that takes the design of the E72 to a whole new level, I’m yet to see a business device has ‘good’ looks and the E72 is already bordering on great. To complete the front look is the trademark chrome lining that runs across the phone, this is a familiar design execution on the E71. On the E72 it seems to have matured and looks very classy. In black it’s like an expensive sedan which is not loud and brash but clam and sophisticated.

QWERTY on the E72

The QWERTY has been very nicely executed, employing the E63’s keypad, the E72 makes typing easier with larger keys. It feel different than the other keys, but feedback is great!

New look covers for the Micro USB and the Micro SSD card slots

The new asymmetrical look for the slots.

Moving to the left side of the device you will find two outlets on the top and a lanyard clip slot at the bottom. The outlets for the Micro USB and the memory card are unique again in terms of design execution, the designers have tried to be bold, and have succeeded. This design execution makes the device fashionable and at the same time new. On the right hand side, are just three buttons with no labeling and finished in chrome paint with excellent backlighting. No prizes for guessing it is the volume rocker and the mute key. At the bottom you shall find just one slot which is for charging the phone’s battery. The top of the phone houses two things that are different – the E72 comes with 3.5mm audio jack – finally the successor has the standard audio jack! Along with that the power key has undergone a complete makeover, from the ‘red’ colour key it has evolved to a chrome finished key with power symbol ‘etched’ onto the button! Hold it an angle and it seems as if the the symbol is reflects light and looks as if it is backlit!

the 'three' buttons

The three buttons on the E72

The ribbed look

The metallic cover on the E72

The back side of the E72 has the same metal cover. The design is now ribbed and each line is closer than it was on the E71. The release of the cover is ala the E63’s and with the speaker moving next to the 5MP camera, it seems like the only cliche on this otherwise uniquely designed device. The camera module is jutting out and though it puts the camera lens at risk, it also makes the speaker more audible as it is not muffled.

the complete backside look

The metallic cover on the E72

All in all the design is superb! I honestly don’t think there is a device that is as stylish the E72, heck there’s no QWERTY device that looks so sexy! So can it be that this device has no flaws in it’s design? Almost! I did find it to be leaking light at some areas, nothing major but just a small flaw perhaps, though not big enough to create pandemonium.

I’ll give the E72 a solid 9.5/10. I have yet to see any phone that looks better than the E72.

Below is a full gallery full of E72 images.

N85 Review Part-1: Design

dscn4100-smallThe N85, is the second Nseries phone being reviewed on this blog. Let me tell you a little about the N85. The N85 is supposed to be a successor to the N81, though some people believe it to be a successor to the N95.

The N85 stole the thunder from the N96, which is the flagship Nokia device currently, by providing similar and better features as the N96. The battle was now not with the Sony Ericssons and the Samgungs. It was with the N96 for the N85.

Let me tell you about the N85 as I see it, without getting into the history. But first, a big thanks to good people at WOM World, for making it available to me for review purposes.

dscn4106-small1Design:

The design of the N85 seems like an evolution of the N81’s design. The N85 is definitely better looking than the N81. It is definitely slimmer than the N95 and also more rounded too. I must be honest and tell you that I haven’t seen such a compact Nseries since the N76. When compared to the N96, the N85 is like a breath of fresh air. It’s that good!

The only thing that the recent Nseries have got a problem with is the glossy finish. It looks good, but the minute anyone holds it in the hand, its transformed into this fingerprint magnet. The mocha colour along with black front, gives a great refreshing look. It definitely looks ‘unique’.I’m dearly grateful to Nokia for having the keys or buttons at the sides in the same colour and not something else.

The keys below the slider (soft keys and menu and ‘C’ keys) are not visible when the phone is switched off or when it is not in use. Something that was first seen on the N78. I don’t whether I should like it or dislike it, because the keys or buttons are spaced out well, but despite that there seems to be a lot of space, which could have been used to make those keys a wee bit bigger.

I am grateful that Nokia did not put that music keys setup around the D-pad. I absolutely hated it on the N96. The N85 is an all plastic affair in terms of the body, but I must say that the quality of plastic is definitely good.

There were a few things that I did not like on the N85.

  • Firstly, the slider function is not nearly as smooth as the N96’s slider action. The slider for the music keys is extremely hard for some reason as if there is no spring.
  • Secondly, the music keys are too small, the keys could have been easily made bigger and thereby more friendly.
  • Thirdly, the black portion, which houses the call and end keys along with the menu and ‘C’ keys, below the screen is already peeling off.
  • And lastly, the camera key is spongy and a little too ‘fragile’, meaning that I could not figure out the difference between pressing the key half way for focusing and pressing it outright to click a snap. I have already mentioned the glossy finish above.

To round it off, I think the N85 is a distinct leap ahead from the N81, N95 and in in some ways even the N96. But overall, there is still some scope for improvement. I hope the newly announced N86 addresses them all.

Overall I think the N85 scores good by amassing a total of 8.2/10. In terms of design, the N85 is really a challenger to N96’s title. it just needs those last few things to be addressed quickly.

N96 Review Part-1: Design

20012009688The N96, Nokia’s flagship product, a phone that is meant to show what Nokia is to the world.

The N96 when it was first outed by Nokia as a successor to the N95 8GB, created ripples in the mobile phones industry. Firstly, not many of use expected a successor to the N95 8GB, secondly the supposed launch of the N85, which had the same and in some case better features than the N96.

Nevertheless the N96 was launched in a very dramatic way, remember the WWF special edition of the N96. The astronomical price of the handset, coupled with new design direction and hardware. It was supposed to be the cutting edge in terms of technology and once again reaffirm others (read iPhone) who was boss.

How has it fared? Well, the N96 has been almost completely overshadowed by its smaller but equally equipped brother, the N85. And also to a small extent by the N79 perhaps. The N95 and its various iterations along with the N82 had set a very high bar for success. This review will seek to find out whether the N96 has been able to meet those expectations and surpass them or not.

In the first aspect of the review let’s look at the design element of the N96.

Design:
The Nseries have always been a mixed bag for Nokia in terms of design. There have been many hits as well as misses for Nokia here. The Nseries have more or less followed traditional form factors, rarely trying something new (N90, N91, N92, N93 being notable exceptions), the N95 broke the mold slightly with a dual slider design. Another thing about Nseries designs has been the elements, they have consistently used different materials and design elements to make the Nseries a unique and aspirational line of phones. N96 is not trying to do anything different from its predecessors, it too has set out to do just that. With a design that sets it apart from ‘every’ other phone out there. It’s clear that the N96 does not want to be an underdog in terms of design.

The now trademark black colour clearly shows its lineage to everyone. A beige band surrounds the phone with silver colored keys for volume, camera, keypad lock and power. This according to me really break the monotony of the beige colour and makes one wonder what was the need to have the keys in that colour? I was little disappointed by that. When one buys a phone that costs so much, he wants high class products not like these. Another thing that struck me is, why has Nokia not gone completely black for this phone? I agree that the beige colour looks nice, but why could it not be black?

The reaction to this phone has been good. After all its not everyday that one sees a N96. All my friends have really liked the phone for its looks. I for one am being very critical of it since this the flagship product! you can’t make mistakes on this one at all.

The phone does not seem to have any metallic parts on the exterior, its an all plastic affair, and they have done a good job with the quality of materials used. The annoying thing about the N96 is that it is a huge (really huge!) fingerprint magnet. dscn4068Since the phone is literally enveloped in glossy surfaces, you are sure to leave fingerprints on the phone. I personally hate having my prints all over the phone. The rear panel of the phone is made entirely of plastic and the design and finish of it reminds me of the N82, which was the first to come out with that kind of a design element.

Since this phone is big in terms of size also, it can become a little difficult to get the right grip. This phone is not slippery, mind you but the size is such that it can take time to get used to holding it in the hand. Once, used to it, it’s as good as any other phone of its kind.

There a ‘billion’ keys on this phone. I have not seen a slider phone having so many keys. In total there 36 keys on the phone, and this is excluding the keypad lock slider button. That’s a whole lot of keys! Using the keys is not difficult. It can however get a little difficult to use the ‘Menu’ and ‘C’ keys as they are at the bottom of the “screen half”. The numerical keypad is also done up in glossy plastic and are just 4 bands. The keys are not individually separated but there isn’t any noticeable problem in operating them. The four keys which are there on the other side of the slider are used for music and video playback, they also double up (the 2 keys in the center) as keys to be used when playing N-Gage games. Again it’s the same glossy finish for them. The keys on the screen half of the phone are an interesting lot.

A look at the keys and you feel sure that there is no way you can escape without making a few wrong presses. But that’s untrue, I haven’t made a single mistake while using them. The design deceives you into believing otherwise. There is just one problem with them and the D-Pad as well, it squeaks! and its irritating after a while. Andrew Currie has mentioned how it feels like, it’s as if there is a piece of plastic stuck under the D-Pad, well I have to agree with him. I have the exact same feeling! Why must they squeak at all?

The fact that the keys are flat, kinds of hinders in the feedback, at least for me. I didn’t think the feedback was reassuring enough. Why was there a need to have dedicated music keys surrounding the D-Pad? what other purpose do they serve?
If someone is listening to a song, he/she could very well use the D-Pad or the dedicated music keys. I think those set of keys could have been avoided and the space used for bigger and better designed keys. The ‘Menu’ and ‘C’ keys could have been bigger, the short cut key (horizontal silver button) could have been made slightly bigger. The volume keys and the camera key were spongy. The phone has two speakers at the right hand side of the phone, inline with the volume and camera keys. Lanyard holes at the bottom left hand side, 2mm charger point, mic and Micro USB slot at the bottom (center). A 3.5mm audio plug is at the top in the center. The phone also has a Micro USB card slot, a door for the same cane be found at the left side of the phone.

In terms of build quality, I must say that the slider mechanism on it is really good. It snaps with a reassuring noise. Probably the one thing that annoys me is the squeaks emanating from the D-Pad & soft keys and also the rear panel. It seems that there is a lot of space inside.

On the whole I would give the phone a respectable 7/10. A flagship product like this could have done much better. I was expecting the N96 would get a 8 or a 9 out of 10. Since it looks like a show stopper. The mistakes made were completely avoidable. I hope the next ‘flagship’ phone does not repeat these mistakes again.

UPDATE: Symbian-Guru reports that an all black N96 is available for sale in the UK at Carphone Warehouse.