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Nokia 7380 review: Nokia 7380

The 7380 doesn't do anything by halves. It doesn't have a keypad. Its screen is invisible when turned off. The back is covered in faux leather. And despite having almost no memory or an expansion slot, there's a 2-megapixel camera. You'll buy this for nothing but its looks -- is that enough?

Andrew Lim
5 min read

The Nokia 7380 is the upgraded version of the Nokia 7280 art deco, harmonica-shaped handset. This is a truly fashion-conscious phone that was designed to attract attention. It combines faux leather, brown and beige plastic and mirrored surfaces to create a unique style. However, the small internal memory and lack of keypad are flaws that might make even the most stylish of people turn their noses up at it -- not since the shell suit have fashion victims been so horribly victimised.


Nokia 7380

The Good

Glowing orange light; innovative use of materials; general kitsch novelty value.

The Bad

No keypad; tiny screen.

The Bottom Line

The 7380 is brilliant if you like attention and don't mind inconvenience -- in this case, an awkward interface and a poor screen. Texting and dialling becomes extremely tedious and even if it attracts an admirer, you'll probably not be able to input their number into this phone

We found the 7380 SIM-free online for around £350.

First and foremost, the Nokia 7380 is a fashion phone and its kitsch novelty appeal will attract plenty of curious glances. The second we took this phone out of the box, people wanted to touch it and use it. This is definitely not your typical phone.

The 7380 has a mirrored front section that houses a scroll wheel, with a glowing orange select button in the middle, to navigate through the interface. Around the wheel are two rubber semi-circles, which are the soft keys and the accept- and reject-call keys. As you can see from the images, there isn't a keypad, which means you have to scroll through letters and numbers to input data (see Features).

The handset weighs 80g and measures an unusual 114x30x20mm. It feels light in the hand and due to its shape slides easily into your pocket, but it doesn't feel compact because of the length.

The power button doubles up as the red reject-call button and has to be held down for about five seconds before the phone turns on. When the 7380 does turn on it glows like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The 65k-colour, 208x104-pixel display is hidden behind the mirrored front. When the phone is being used, the screen appears from underneath the mirror. This means that in sunny conditions the mirrored surface of the phone creates too much glare to see the screen underneath properly. Unusually, the phone is designed to be interacted with sideways, like a camera, so the screen is at a right angle to the chassis. Obviously you use it in the vertical manner of a normal candybar phone when you're making a call, which feels exactly right.

There are no volume buttons on either side of the phone, or even a shutter button. There is, however, a silver cover for the SIM card on the bottom left and a hole on the top left (in the vertical position) that contains the loudspeaker. On the top right there is another silver cover that has the Nokia logo on, but serves no practical purpose. Further down there is a material label on the right side with a petal logo -- another novelty fashion feature.

If you're in the mood to show off your 7380, Nokia has added a stylish metal lanyard that you can attach to the top of the handset. If you want to snap some pictures, there's a 2-megapixel camera -- with flash -- on the back of the phone, surrounded by faux leather.

As with the 7280, the problems arising from having a scroll wheel are immediately obvious. Everything on the 7380 is activated via the scroll wheel, known as the Nokia Navi Spinner. If you want to write a text message you have to scroll through the alphabet. In an attempt to make things easier, the first five letters are A, T, S, I and O, which are supposedly the most commonly used letters. There's also predictive text, which will learn your most popular words, so writing texts should become easier in time.

With telephone numbers, a similar system is adopted, except you scroll through the numbers 0-9. If you have to enter numbers on the 7380 mid-call, for instance to choose an option on a menu, you have to navigate to the number-entry section, by which time an automated customer-service line may have hung up. However, in defence of the scroll wheel, once you've gone to the trouble of inputting telephone numbers, scrolling through them is a joy. While at first texting and inputting numbers is tedious, after some practice it becomes much easier. You have to keep in mind that the 7380 is designed with fashion in mind, so don't buy it if you're a hardcore texter or business executive -- unless you want a cool second phone to use in the evening.

As an alternative to the scroll wheel, you can use the audio-message feature, which bypasses the whole scrolling process and lets you record messages and then send them. Unfortunately, this is not compatible with all other phones and therefore not as useful as texting itself.

The 2-megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom is made all but redundant by the thin screen and mirrored front. The display is too small to view photos properly and the lack of a dedicated shutter button is annoying. The flash is an LED light, so don't expect high levels of illumination. You can transfer the photos via Bluetooth or USB, but unlike the 7280 there is no infrared.

The 7380 has 52MB of internal memory and no external memory card slot, so the number of photos and MP3s you can store is limited. You can cram in around 100 high-quality photos or around 13 MP3 tracks. You get a pair of white Nokia headphones with the phone that aren't very comfortable -- they're too round. If you've got other Nokia headphones you can use them, but not standard 3.5mm-jack 'phones, as the port is proprietary.

There is GPRS and a WAP 2.0 Web browser, but it is completely let down by the tiny screen. As with the 7280, you can use it as a modem with a laptop or handheld, but this is not the most practical solution. The other unimproved niggle from the 7280 is the lack of dedicated volume buttons, making changing the volume mid-conversation difficult, as you have to pull the phone away from your face.

Call audio on the Nokia 7380 was good -- the sound was clear and loud. The speakerphone is not very loud, but adequate if you're in a quiet environment.

Battery life lasted around 8 days on standby and 3 hours of talk time -- average for a non-3G phone. GPRS and Bluetooth connections were good and we encountered few problems pairing the handset with Bluetooth headsets and laptops.

Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide