If there was one trend we saw at this year's CTIA show, it was the advent of fashion-friendly mobiles. And while the may have taken center stage up until now, Nokia is not about to be left out. At the same time it presented a looker of its own, the , the folks from Finland also rolled out the 7270. For the image conscious, you can dress up this flip phone--yes, a Nokia flip phone--with changeable textile wraps, and it certainly has a playful side with an integrated VGA camera with video recording and streaming media. Unfortunately, some of that fun is cut short by the mediocre call quality and the high price--in the neighborhood of $500 to $600--but that should drop if a carrier picks it up. Take the , shrink it a bit, and convert it into a flip phone--there you have the essence of the Nokia 7270. As one of the models in Nokia's "fashion phone" line, the 7270 parades around in a black finish accented by art-deco metal faceplates on the front and back. Though we are glad to see Nokia finally break from its long line of candy bar handsets, what's considered fashionable is always subjective. And from our standpoint, the 7270 is a fashion don't. The metal makes it look industrial and cold. Plus, at 3.5 by 1.8 by 0.9 inches and 4.2 ounces, it's a bit hefty and bulky, fitting snugly in a jean pocket. That said, the mobile feels solid in your hands and snaps open and shut with authority. You can also spruce up your phone with changeable textile wraps that snap onto the handset; our review unit came with a red-and-black dressing.
There is a sizable 1.25-inch-diagonal, 4,096-color external display that shows caller ID information (where available), the time, battery life, and network strength. The backlighting goes dim after a set interval, but the time is still visible. You can also use the screen as a viewfinder for self-portraits, and it shows photo caller ID. The camera lens is located at the bottom-right side, and it's well out of reach of fingers. Unfortunately, there are no flash and no dedicated camera button anywhere on the phone. As far as other controls, there is a volume rocker on the left spine and a push-to-talk button (PTT), a power button, and the infrared port on the right.
Flip open the mobile, and you'll get a better sense of why it's dubbed a fashion phone. The sleek, black interior is highlighted with silver and red lines along the border for a more aesthetically pleasing look. There's a 2-inch-diagonal display, and although it shows 65,536 colors, the screen looks washed out. Surprisingly, though, the display is easy to read in direct sunlight. Below it, you'll find a four-way directional keypad with a center selection button, flanked by two soft keys and Talk and End keys. The up, down, left, and right keys launch the camera, contacts, text message, and PTT groups, respectively, but only the right soft key is customizable. The squarish navigation toggle was a bit cramped and barely manageable during our tests, so callers with bigger digits should definitely take note. Also, while the numerical keypad is adequately backlit and spacious, because the buttons are set flush with the surface, it made dialing by feel difficult.The Nokia 7270's feature list is as playful as its design, but it also serves up the basics. You get a 255-name phone book with room in each entry for five numbers; a push-to-talk number; and e-mail, Web, and postal addresses. The SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. For caller ID purposes, you can add a picture, assign them to any of 40 polyphonic ring tones, or organize contacts by caller groups; you can also add notes or a tag for voice dialing. Messaging options run the gamut of text and multimedia, instant messaging, and e-mail. More goodies are in store with a vibrate mode, a calendar, a countdown timer, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a calculator, a notepad, a to-do list, and a WAP 2.0 Web browser. Business users will be pleased to see the inclusion of a speakerphone, conference calling, a voice recorder, push-to-talk capabilities, voice commands, the ability to wirelessly exchange business card information, and a password-protected electronic wallet for storing credit card numbers and other sensitive information. Unlike the 7280, there is no Bluetooth, which is disappointing, but thankfully, there is an infrared port for wireless transfer. You can also connect to a compatible PC with the help of Nokia's Connectivity Cable and install applications using Nokia PC Suite.
The 7270's VGA camera takes pictures only in 640x480-pixel resolution, but you get three quality settings (High, Normal, and Basic) and four modes (Standard, Portrait, Night, and Video). You also get a 4X digital zoom, a self-timer, and an option to turn off the camera-shutter sound. Photo quality was above average, but still, this isn't something you'd want to frame and display in your living room. Once you've snapped your photos, you can shoot them off to friends and family via multimedia message, save them to the phone's 32MB shared memory, or use them for wallpaper. And unlike its, the 7270 is outfitted with video-recording capabilities. You can record 15-second MPEG-4 video clips with sound and send them via a multimedia message or the infrared port. You also have the option to mute sound; rename the clip; and get information such as file size, creation date, and format.