The Nokia 7610 Supernova gave us deja vu when it first arrived in our offices, and it wasn't due to its common slider design. Instead, we remembered that we had reviewed a Nokia handset with that same model number almost five years ago. We thought perhaps the Supernova was a long-delayed upgrade to the earlier phone. We couldn't think of another reason why a manufacturer would repeat a model number. But a quick look showed that the Supernova is nothing like its candy bar predecessor with the quirky swirled keypad.
After a shakedown, we overcame our initial skepticism. The Supernova doesn't deliver a blinding flash of feature or power, but it's a respectable phone in its own right. The minimalist slider design is attractive and the midrange feature set includes a respectable camera and a music player. Call quality is good, as well. The Supernova sells for $197 from importer Web sites like Expansys.com.
Where the original 7610 was stocky and a bit overdesigned for our tastes, the Supernova is slim and unassuming. The slider design is attractive, but it doesn't go out of its way to catch your eye. The front face is glossy silver, while the back cover design is up to you. Nokia includes red and black interchangeable covers in the box, though actually prying them off isn't easy. The handset measures 3.86 inches by 1.89 inches by 0.59 inch, which is thin by Nokia standards. It weighs 3.48 ounces, which is nice for traveling.
As we mentioned, the Supernova's display area is reflective. Though that means it attracts smudges and fingerprints, it also catches the light and doubles as a mirror. The 2-inch display is attractive as well. With support for 16.7 million colors and a decent resolution (320x240 pixels), it's bright and vibrant with sharp graphics. The Series 40, third-edition menu interface is easy to use, though you may want to limit the busy backgrounds. You can change the font size and color.
The Supernova's navigation array is composed of a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, and the Talk and End buttons. Though only the toggle is raised, the array's spacious design makes it quite easy to use. The toggle and right soft key double as shortcut controls, and you can populate the screen with shortcut icons.
The slider mechanism is sturdy without being stiff. We could open and close the phone with one hand and it clicks into place on either end. Behind the slider is the keypad. Unfortunately, it's the weakest link in the Supernova's otherwise satisfying design. Similar to many other slider phones, the keys are flat, but they're also shiny and slippery. Even with the spacious layout it took us a while to get used to dialing and texting. The numbers and letters on the keys are rather small--people with visual impairments should take note--but the backlighting is bright.
A Micro-USB port sits on the Supernova's right spine and a volume rocker, music player shortcut, and camera shutter sit on the right spine. On the top of the phone you'll find the charger port, power button, and the 2.5mm headset jack. We'd really prefer a 3.5mm headset on a music phone. The rear face of the Supernova is designed to mimic a standalone camera--besides the lens there's a flash and a small speaker. The MicroSD card slot is located inconveniently behind the battery cover.
Each contact in the Supernova's 1,000-name phone book has room for five phone number types, an e-mail address, a URL, a company name and job title, a nickname, a street address, a birthday, and notes. You can save callers to groups and you can pair contacts with a photo and one of 20 polyphonic ringtones. The SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts.
Essential Supernova features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a world clock, a to-do list, a notepad, a calculator, a countdown timer, a voice recorder, a speakerphone, and a stopwatch. On the higher-end, you get GPS with support for Nokia Maps, PC syncing, USB mass storage, full Bluetooth with a stereo profile, a clothing size converter, Flickr and Yahoo Go applications, a unit and currency converter, and Nokia Sensor.