For some manufacturers creating a fashion phone means changing the colour of a casing or modifying a small detail. With its 7900 Prism, Nokia has taken the idea of design to much further lengths. We set out to discover whether or not the 7900 is too focused on design and not enough on features.
The Nokia 7900 Prism is currently available SIM-free for around £270 or free on a monthly contract with O2.
Taking the 7900 Prism out of its box is like picking up a retro Star Trek gadget for the first time. Although it's shaped like a mobile phone, there's something other-worldly about it, making you want to play with it. Similar to the Nokia 7280, you get the impression that it's not your run-of-the-mill handset.
The 7900's metal back gives it a very solid feel and the 'diamond-cut' patterns bring an otherwise thin but dull casing to life. The 2-megapixel camera is surrounded by a silver diamond-shaped border and the LED photo light sits next to it underneath a semi-transparent triangular piece of plastic.
But it's the front of the phone where you really feel like you're staring at something straight out of an art college student's portfolio. At the top of the front of the 7900 there's a medium-sized OLED screen and underneath that, a diamond-shaped navigation key followed by a keypad made up entirely of triangular shaped keys.
The triangular keys are unfortunately not very easy to press and while the rest of the phone feels well designed, the keypad really doesn't. It's not that using triangles was a bad idea but because the keys are so squashed together and small, you end up pressing more than one key at a time quite easily.
If only the keypad was better -- then you could really appreciate what the Nokia 7900 Prism has to offer, and it has a fair amount, considering it's only 11mm thin. You can browse the Web relatively quickly with 3G and there's a 2-megapixel camera on the back for MMS photos and the odd snapshot.
There's an MP3 player and FM radio but you'll need to use the provided headphones to listen to either, which is a shame. You can store all your media on the 1GB of onboard memory, although there's no expandable microSD card slot, so that's it. Unusually, the feature that had us most fascinated was the keypad backlight.
Normally, keypad backlights aren't that exciting. That's primarily because they don't do much but the 7900's keypad has a trick up its sleeve. That's right, you can change the colour of the backlight and when the phone rings it can display effects. OK, so it's a gimmick but it is different and some people will really like it.
Audio quality during calls is loud and clear with no noticeable distortion or muffling. The loudspeaker works as expected and Bluetooth and Stereo Bluetooth also provided little surprise in performance, with no noticeable issues.
For a 2-megapixel camera picture quality was good but it did take a long time to actually save the picture once it had been taken. It's perfectly suitable for MMS messaging and small prints but don't expect great shots in low light.
Battery life is quoted three hours talk time and 300 hours on standby. It lasted for over two days with moderate use and just under a day if we used 3G intensively. Battery life will of course vary depending on use.
The Nokia 7900 Prism is an attractive phone and while it won't be to everyone's tastes, it does possess design features that differentiate it from the rest of the crowd. Unfortunately, one of those features happens to be a rather awkward to use keypad and while we'd like to give this phone a great review, its keypad really lets it down.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday