Most of Nokia's recent cell phones for the U.S. market haven't been too exciting. Sure, the company gave us the odd Nokia Twist last month, but we're more likely to see functional handsets like AT&T's Nokia Mural 6750. Verizon's new Nokia Shade 2705 certainly is part of that majority. Its thin design doesn't call attention to itself, and its feature set centers on basic communication. Performance is satisfactory, but the Shade feels a bit too fragile in our hands. It's just $29.99 with service.
Even on relatively simple phones, you can count on Nokia to add a bit of style to the design. The trim Shade is no exception to this rule--when it's open, it forms a clean curve without a protruding hinge. It's a Nokia trend that we first saw in Verizon's Nokia 2605 Mirage. Some might find that the shallow curve doesn't fully cradle your head, but we think that it gives the phone a unique design aesthetic. The Shade is black with a sliver trim, but you can mix it up with changeable covers in blue, red, and green. The covers are sold separately for $19.99 each.
At 3.32 inches by 1.70 inches by 0.64 inch and 2.6 ounces, the Shade is quite small and light. Though it's eminently portable, it also has a wispy, almost toylike feel in the hand. If you're careful with your phone, this shouldn't be a problem, but we're not confident that the plastic skin would withstand any rough treatment.
The postage stamp external display is full color (262,144 colors; 160x128 pixels). Besides showing photo caller ID, it also supports photo caller ID and doubles as a viewfinder for self-portraits. The camera lens sits just above, next to a small speaker--there is no camera flash. Other external features include a volume rocker on the left spine and a voice dialing control on the right spine. Both keys are flush and difficult to find when you're on a call. Also on the right spine are a Micro-USB port, which accommodates the USB cable, and a 2.5mm headset jack.
The interior display measures 2 inches and supports 262,144 colors (220x176 pixels). It's not the most vibrant display we've ever seen, but it's suitable for this type of phone. Colors were bright and graphics and photos were relatively sharp. The Shade's menu still shows some aspects of Verizon's standardized menu interface, but that's getting better. You can change the backlight time and the font size and color.
The Shade's navigation array is spacious and mostly easy to use. There's a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a speakerphone button, and a camera shutter. The keys are flush, but we were able to navigate accurately. The toggle doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined shortcuts. The keypad buttons left us divided, however. Though they're spacious, they're flush and have a plastic feel. We could dial and text without many problems, but dialing by feel is difficult, and we'd be worried about long-term use for a heavy texter. On the other hand, the keys are backlit for dialing in the dark.
The Shade has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for four phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can assign callers to groups and can pair them with a photo and one of 12 polyphonic ringtones. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm lock, a stopwatch, a world clock, and a note pad.
Beyond the basics you'll find Verizon chat, voice commands and dialing, USB cable support, an airplane mode, phone as modem support, VZ Navigator (requires a monthly fee), a voice recorder, and Web-based POP3 e-mail. You'll also find Bluetooth, though the profiles are limited. There's no stereo Bluetooth, and object push is available only for certain files.
The 1.3-megapixel camera takes pictures in four resolutions, from 1,280x960 down to 160x120. Other options include a self-timer, a brightness meter, four white balance modes, three color effects, and three shutter sounds plus a silent option. Photo quality is average--though colors were natural and there was little image noise, our images were rather dark. The Shade includes about 59MB of user-accessible memory for storing your work. The camera does not shoot video.
You can personalize the Shade with a variety of display themes, wallpaper, banners, and clock formats. More options and additional ringtones are available from Verizon using the WAP 2.0 browser. The handset doesn't come with any games, but Verizon offers a selection of BREW titles for purchase.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Nokia Shade in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was quite acceptable. The signal was strong and clear, voices sounded natural, and the volume was loud. We had a bit of trouble hearing when there was a lot of background noise, but it wasn't a huge problem. On the whole, we were quite pleased with the Shade's performance.
On their end callers said we sounded good. Most could tell we were using a cell phone, but few had major complaints beyond some background and wind noise. Automated calling systems also could understand us most of the time. Though we appreciated the one-touch access to the speakerphone, call quality over the external speaker was rather poor. The volume doesn't get very loud, and there was a moderate amount of voice distortion. Callers had trouble hearing us as well.
The Shade has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 15 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 53 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Shade has a digital