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Nokia 7390 review: Nokia 7390

The Nokia 7390 is a lovely cell phone with a generous feature set and solid performance. It's not optimized for U.S. cellular networks, but it's impressive just the same.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
7 min read
Nokia 7390

You can usually count on two qualities in Nokia cell phones: good audio quality and unique design touches. Sure, the company misses a couple beats here and there, but the reliability of Finnish handsets like the Nokia 7390 is well-known in the cell phone world. As part of Nokia's L'Amour design collection, this phone definitely meets the unique design criteria, but unlike its L'Amour sibling the Nokia 7380, the 7390 doesn't go out on a limb to do so. And yes, it also fits the first criteria while offering a solid set of features. It's not offered by a U.S. carrier but you can get it unlocked in the States for about $350.


Nokia 7390

The Good

The Nokia 7390 has a stylish, user-friendly design with attractive displays, a full range of features, and reliable sound quality.

The Bad

The Nokia 7390 supports only European 3G networks. Also, the volume level is a tad low and the camera lens is in a poor location.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia 7390 is a lovely cell phone with a generous feature set and solid performance. It's not optimized for U.S. cellular networks, but it's impressive just the same.


While the Nokia 7380 tackled a wholly unconventional cell phone form factor and the Nokia 7370 (also a L'Amour model) brought the swivel design to Nokia, the 7390 is a traditional flip phone. Granted, Nokia's flip-phone gallery is still outweighed by its candy bar selection, but the 7390 succeeds in what it sets out to do. Available in two distinctive color schemes--powder pink and bronze black (we looked at the latter model)--the 7390 is without a doubt an eye-catching and stylish phone. Despite being a bit boxy, the bronze faceplate contrasts nicely with the phone's overall dark color and we liked the swirled patterns etched into the front face. The leather-like square on the rear of phone is a nice touch too, but we continue to be divided on the little fabric tag that adorns all L'Amour models. Some think that it's cool, while others think that it's just unnecessary.

The lovely looks do come at a slight cost. At 3.5 inches long by 1.8 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the 7390 is a tad large as far as flip phones go, and its 4.0 ounces of weight is more than we expected. It still slips easy into a pocket and it's comfortable to hold in the hand, but the rear flap is a tad weighty. On the upside, the 7390 has a sturdy construction.

The front face is dominated by a 1.25-inch (160x128 pixels) external display that shows a solid 262,000 colors. As external displays go, it's quite bright and vibrant and a big step up from other Nokia models. It shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and photo caller ID, and it functions as a viewfinder for taking pictures when the phone is closed. Yet because the camera lens is in the rear face, you can't use the external display to take self-portraits. You can choose a wallpaper selection but no other options are customizable.

The 7390 has external controls that sit just below the attractive external display.

We like that the display also lets you browse through a few menu functions when the phone is closed. Below the display are three small buttons that serve a variety of functions. You can use the right and left controls to select the desired feature and then use the central key to select an option. The buttons also control the music player when the phone is closed.

As we mentioned earlier, the camera lens sits on the top of the rear face of the phone next to the flash. Unfortunately, it's not the most ideal place overall--it was the natural place to rest our finger--and it's disappointing there's no self-portrait mirror with a 3-megapixel camera. We also aren't thrilled that Nokia put the mini-USB port and the charger jack at the top of the phone, because it makes for more awkward ergonomics when you charge the phone while talking. A volume rocker and a camera shutter sit on the right spine, while a power button and the Infrared port sit on the left spine. The MicroSD card slot is behind the battery cover. No, that's not the best place, but you don't have to remove the battery too.

The internal display is even more impressive than its external sibling. With support for 16 million colors it's quite lovely indeed, with rich colors and easy-to-read text even in direct light. It's also quite large at 2.25 inches (240x320 pixels), and the Nokia Series 40 menu interface is attractive. You can change the font color and the font size and personalize it with a background. We also like that the swirled patter from the front flap is also visible in a silver border surrounding the display. For video calls, a second VGA camera lens sits on the top of the flap.

Below the display is the amply-sized navigation array consisting of a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, and the Talk and End buttons. The toggle and shift keys can be set as shortcuts to user-defined shortcuts, and the OK button opens the menu when the phone is in standby mode. The design is very simple yet perhaps it's a bit too simple. The Talk and End keys aren't marked in the traditional green and red colors, and the controls are too flat against the surface of the phone. The toggle is raised somewhat but it's not quite enough. The backlit keypad buttons are also flat with the surface of the phone and are a tad slick. On the upside, though, they're quite large and tactile and their bronze color makes them easy to see.


The Nokia 7390's feature set proves it's much more than a pretty face. Armed with a 3-meagapixel camera, a music player with FM radio, an Infrared port, and Bluetooth, the phone has the brains to go with the beauty. But first we'll detail the basics. The phone book is smaller than we'd prefer, but each entry has room for six phone numbers plus a push-to-talk number, an e-mail address, a job tile and company name, a Web address, a nickname and formal name, a street address, and notes. For even more room, the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. You save contacts to groups and for caller ID pair them with one of 23 polyphonic ringtones and a photo or video. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, voice commands and dialing, a calendar, a to-do list, a notepad, a calculator, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch.

On the higher end, the 7390 also offers full Bluetooth (with a stereo profile), an Infrared port, e-mail, instant messaging, support for push-to-talk networks (operator dependent), a voice recorder, and PC syncing. Globetrotters can take advantage of the world clock, a nifty size-converter sensor for changing between U.S. and European clothing and shoe sizes, and support for Nokia's Sensor application, which is a quasi-social networking feature that scans nearby Bluetooth users. The 7390 also supports the WCDMA (3G) 2100 band, but that frequency is used only in Europe and not the United States.

The 7390's camera has a bright flash but no self-portrait mirror.

The Nokia 7390 has a fantastic 3-megaixel camera that far outshines most other camera shooters on the market. It takes pictures in five resolutions--from 1,536x2,048 down to 120x160. Other options include three quality settings, three color effects, nine fun frames, an autofocus, a self-timer, a multishot mode, a white-balance setting, a digital zoom, and a selection of camera sounds. The flash provides an exceptional amount of light, but as noted, self-portraits are tricky. The second VGA camera inside the phone is available for video calls, but keep in mind those are only really effective when you're using a 3G network.

We like the 7390's photo quality.

The camcorder records clips in four resolutions (640x480 down to 128x96) with sound. You can choose from three quality settings and you can mute the sound. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 20 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for about four minutes. Internal memory for all of your work is a bit small--just 21MB of shared space--so we suggest using a MicroSD card (the 7390 supports cards up to 2GB). Photo quality is decent for a megapixel camera phone, with distinct colors and object outlines. Video quality was above average but not really impressive.

The 7390 also includes a music player. The interface is pretty generic but it supports a variety of file formats including MP3, AAC, and WMA. There's an equalizer as well and you can save music files as ringtones. The FM radio lets you store station presets; just remember you'll need a wired headset to act as an antenna.

You can personalize the 7390 with a variety of wallpapers, screensavers, color themes, and alert sounds. You can always get more options via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. For playtime, the 7390 comes with three Java (J2ME) games: Music Guess, Rally 3D, Snake III, and Sudoku.


We tested the triband (GSM 900/1800/1900; EDGE) Nokia 7390 in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was reliable overall and we had little trouble getting a signal. Voices sounded natural, though the volume was a tad low. It wasn't a big problem for us, but users with hearing impairments should test the phone first. Though they could tell we were using a cell phone, callers said they could hear us plainly, and the voice automated system had little trouble understanding us. The sound was diminished on both ends when we were in noisy environments, so again, you might want to test this phone first. Speakerphone quality was also decent; the sound was a little more muffled but that's pretty common on cell phone speakerphones.

Since the phone doesn't use the GSM 850 band, reception can vary depending on how strong the 1900 coverage is in your area. Indeed, when we traveled outside the city or went deep into buildings, the connection grew patchier. And don't forget, although the 7390 supports the WCDMA 2100 band, it's not used in the United States.

The Nokia 7390 has a rated battery life of four hours talk time and up to 11 and a quarter days of standby time. Though the standby rating is decent, the promised talk time is rather low, especially for a GSM phone. Our tests confirmed that the talk time is indeed only four hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the 7390 has a digital SAR rating of 0.26 watts.


Nokia 7390

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7