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Nokia 9300 (AT&T) review: Nokia 9300 (AT&T)

Nokia 9300 (AT&T)

John Frederick Moore
6 min read
Nokia 9300
Palm gets a lot of press for its popular Treo, but Nokia knows a thing or two about smart phones too. Starting with the 9000i Communicator and following up with the Nokia 9290, the Finnish company has produced some powerful Symbian-based smart phones. Now it adds the Nokia 9300 to its list. With an integrated QWERTY keyboard and support for multiple e-mail accounts, the 9300 Communicator has a lot to offer users who need a corporate-centric device. While there's much that's impressive in this unit for Cingular Wireless, there's also plenty that's frustrating. The keyboard is somewhat cramped, and the phone lacks Wi-Fi. Also, at $299.99 with a two-year contract, the Nokia 9300 is a bit on the pricey side. With the cover closed, the Nokia 9300 looks like a run-of-the-mill candy bar phone, albeit a fairly long, thick, and heavy one (5.2 by 2 by 0.8 inches and 5.9 ounces). The all-silver face is appropriately utilitarian for the 9300's target audience of mobile professionals, and Nokia keeps the design simple with a small power button on the top-right corner, a basic dial-pad layout, Talk and End buttons, two soft keys, and a five-way navigation control just below the 1.7-inch-diagonal, 65,536-color external display. The dial pad features bright white backlighting for use in dark rooms. Our only complaint here is that it's tough to activate the left or right navigation buttons without hitting the center Select button. And because the phone doesn't have dedicated volume buttons on the side, you have to pull it away from your face during calls to adjust the sound level with the navigation keys.


Nokia 9300 (AT&T)

The Good

The Nokia 9300 features a nice, wide color screen, a QWERTY keyboard, and a speakerphone. It also supports multiple e-mail accounts and Bluetooth.

The Bad

Some downsides of the Nokia 9300 include its heft, its awkwardly placed expansion slot, its nontactile, nonbacklit keyboard, and its lack of Wi-Fi and a camera.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia 9300 includes handy features for corporate users, though some of them could use work.

King size: The Nokia 9300 isn't a lightweight.

Inside the Nokia 9300, you'll find a full QWERTY keyboard and a wide color display. To our disappointment, the internal screen shows only 65,536 hues; we would have preferred the 262,000 colors found on some of today's newer cell phones. Also, although the individual keyboard buttons are a good size, the buttons are a bit too close for comfort, and they don't provide enough of a tactile click to make touch-typing easy--especially if you have fairly large hands. What's worse, the keyboard isn't backlit. Though you can certainly place the unit on a desk to hunt and peck with your fingers, it's easier to hold the device and use your thumbs. On the positive side, buttons on top of the keyboard provide one-touch access to contacts, messaging, documents, the calendar, and the Web. There are also four soft keys next to the internal display.

A joystick on the bottom right of the keyboard lets you navigate through menus or scroll through Web pages and long documents. It's a nice idea, but in practice, the joystick is a bit too sensitive for our tastes. We frequently overscrolled, and there's no way to control the joystick's sensitivity. When pressed down, the joystick also serves as a Select button; however, it's difficult to do that without moving the joystick one direction or another. Finally, while we laud the inclusion of an MMC expansion slot, it's beyond us why Nokia decided to place the slot underneath the battery.

Although the Nokia 9300 has impressive communications capabilities, we wished we could access some of its features with the cover closed. For example, you have to open the handset and go through four layers of menus just to choose a ring tone. This feature could easily have been made accessible with the cover closed. Also, opening the front flap during a call automatically activates the speakerphone; it would be nice if you could use the speakerphone with the lid closed as well.

The Nokia 9300 provides a strong arsenal of phone and data features that should please mobile professionals. For chatters, the 9300's phone book has room in each entry for multiple numbers, an e-mail address, a street address, and company information. You can add as many contacts as the phone's memory allows and store an additional 250 names on the SIM card. You can assign a contact one of 40 polyphonic ring tones or an image for caller-ID purposes, but since the 9300 doesn't have a built-in camera, you'll have to get photos onto your phone another way. You also get an integrated speakerphone, five-way conference calling, USB 2.0 connectivity, an infrared port, and Bluetooth support. Unfortunately, there's no integrated Wi-Fi and, curiously, no vibrate mode either.

Corporate users will love that the Nokia 9300, which runs on Symbian OS 7, supports POP3, IMAP4, SMTP, SyncML, and BlackBerry Connect e-mail accounts. We had no problems setting up our POP3 account, though users less accustomed to this process should consult the user's guide for help. You can access complete contact information from both the external and internal displays, though you'll have to use the QWERTY keyboard to send e-mail or text messages. The 9300 also supports multimedia and instant messages.

Use the Nokia 9300's full QWERTY keyboard to happily type away your messages.

The unit comes with 80MB of memory--a very generous allotment compared to the Sony Ericsson P910a's 64MB--and you can add an additional 2GB through the aforementioned MMC slot.

Nokia's PC Suite software lets you transfer files, synchronize with your address book, or use the phone as a modem to connect to the Internet. Note that you'll have to download this free software from Nokia's site and fork over $50 for a data cable. That said, the phone comes with plenty of onboard applications to get you going. You can open Microsoft Office files with the included document, spreadsheet, and presentation viewers and editors. The software supports Excel spreadsheets with multiple tabs, though switching between sheets requires pressing the Menu button and selecting Worksheets from the View menu. The Nokia 9300 also comes with Adobe Acrobat reader for Symbian. Some of our sample PDFs appeared with missing text or graphics, though others came through intact. Other organizational tools include a calculator, a file manager, an alarm clock, and a voice recorder.

For entertainment, the Nokia 9300 comes with an MP3 player and RealPlayer for playing video files. The headphone jack isn't the standard 2.5mm size, so you'll have to buy a Nokia-only headset. Although this is a business-centric device, the option of a megapixel camera would have been a nice addition, as you could easily send pictures via your POP3 or IMAP4 e-mail account. The 9300 supports GPRS and EDGE networks for Internet access. We found browsing slow going over GPRS, so if you plan to do a lot of Web surfing on the included Opera browser, it's worth investing in an EDGE subscription.

Though the Nokia 9300 is a smart phone with a heavy emphasis on messaging, thankfully the company didn't forget about phone performance. We tested the triband (GSM 850/1800/1900) 9300 in the Chicago area over Cingular's network, and phone calls sounded great. Callers said they couldn't tell we were using a cell phone, and the integrated speakerphone provided good volume without distorting. We like that you can continue calls in speaker mode even when using other features--for instance, when typing on the keyboard or sending a document via e-mail. We also had no problem pairing the 9300 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset, though with slightly diminished call quality.

Though Nokia rates the 9300 for 7 hours of digital talk time, we got only 5.25 hours. Similarly, the five-days-plus of standby time we received fell short of Nokia's eight-day rating. According to FCC radiation tests, the Nokia 9300 has a digital SAR rating of 0.21 watts per kilogram.


Nokia 9300 (AT&T)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 6