Nokia 7280 review: Nokia 7280

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CNET Editors' Rating

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The Good Very sexy and sleek design. Very handy.

The Bad Takes longer to send SMS or type numbers. Weak battery life.

The Bottom Line Good as secondary phone but not as primary phone, especially if you like sending text messages.

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Design
It's a new breed of fashion phones that's meant to go into those party handbags that can barely fit anything in them. That's why the new Nokia 7280 is formed like a lipstick. Although, it's not as small as the lipsticks available these days, it is close enough and slim enough to fit into tiny handbags or the metrosexual man's pockets.

It is black and sleek with an iPod-like wheel, called the Navi spinner rotating wheel, instead of a keypad. There are no number keys. Only Select, Send, End and two soft keys.

So how do you send a text message? Users can use the Navi spinner to select the letters for sending SMS or encoding names. There is also a special menu for entering numbers for phone numbers not stored in the phone book. It is a bit tricky and takes some time to get used to it, but the Nokia 7280 is obviously designed more for call uses than SMS.

The screen acts as a mirror when not active, for those moments when you have to retouch your lipstick. The VGA camera is cleverly hidden and can be activated by sliding the phone open. At 84 grams and 115 by 32 by 19 millimetres, the phone is very light and handy. The phone display supports up to 65K colours within 104 x 208 pixels.

A red glow comes out on the top part of the phone which really has no clear purpose but to make it easy for users to find it in their handbag or pockets.

Features
The phone's features are similar to other Nokia fashion phones except for the Number Entry menu which is used to input phone numbers not stored in the contact's list (remember, there is no keypad on this one).

Although the features are the same, there are little things missing. For instance, we can't seem to find a calculator in any of the menus. But then again, would you really need a calculator when using a phone designed like a fashion accessory?

The phone is capable of voice recordings but not video recordings. The Nokia 7280 is obviously not designed for text messaging, which is a shame especially since it has cute smiley icons.

The phone has a voice-activated user interface and internal handsfree speaker for group calls (if your network allows it). Users can answer and end calls simply by sliding the top end of the camera open.

There is the usual polyphonic ringing tones in MIDI form and an integrated FM radio that requires the headset.

Performance
We found no problem with the reception for voice calls or for sending SMS/MMS. In terms of photo quality, the camera took the typical VGA-quality photos, something which cannot compete with megapixel camera phones, such as Nokia's 7610 and Sony Ericsson's S700i.

Nokia's advertising suggests you "capture the night's most compelling moments with the integrated VGA camera". However, we found that like most camera phones, night shots are not really the phone's forte.

Although it is a bit tricky to type messages using the Navi spinner, it is made easier by the unique implementation of the dictionary function. When a word is being typed, the 7280 suggests the next letter by placing it at the front of the line, so users do not need to scroll through the entire alphabet to select the next letter. The rotator itself is also accurate and very easy to manipulate. This phone is all thumb technology and doesn't need the use of other fingers.

The battery life, on the other hand, is pretty weak. We found that we needed to charge it after a day or so of use. The red light that keeps lighting up every couple of minutes at the top is probably one of the reasons why the battery drains so fast so we suggest you turn it off.

It is obvious what the Nokia 7280's edge is. The style is what separates this phone from other handsets. It banks on something that has never been done before and it may just succeed in doing that. But with a retail price of almost AU$1,300, we doubt it would be considered as just a "secondary" phone for those nights when users go clubbing. And if this is going to be the primary phone, then users should be ready to take longer to send text messages.

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Where to Buy

Nokia 7280

Part Number: CNETNokia 7280

Typical Price: $1,299.00

See manufacturer website for availability.