Nokia has given U.S. carriers an interesting selection of cell phones over the past few months. We've seen quality music phones, quirky square models, and basic handsets just for making calls. The newest device to land on our desk, the Nokia Mural 6750 for AT&T, falls into yet another category. Slim, shiny, and armed with push-to-talk (PTT) and 3G, the Mural has a solid feel, thanks to its metal skin. Its performance was inconsistent, however, and it doesn't offer anything that we haven't seen before. The Mural costs $49.99 with a two-year contract and a $50 mail-in rebate.
The Mural's design left us a bit divided. While its metal skin is both shiny and sturdy, it also looks a bit too much like a forgotten Motorola Krzr. It's certainly not unattractive, but the overall design--particularly the "chin" at the bottom of the handset--looks dated. At 3.83 inches tall by 1.85 inches wide by 0.68 inch thick, the Mural is slim and portable; it's also a bit on the heavy side (3.9 ounces), but we enjoy the solid feel in the hand. Indeed, the metal skin is welcome in a world of plastic phones.
The external display is hidden when the backlighting is off. When it's active it shows the time, battery life, and signal strength. It also displays numeric caller ID, but it won't show photos attached to contacts. Below are three music controls for activating and using the player when the phone is closed. They're a bit thin, but we didn't have any trouble using them. You'll also see two lights hidden beneath the front flap that glow when you get a call or message. It's a purely cosmetic touch, but you can choose a color and turn the lights off completely.
The remaining exterior controls include a volume rocker and the PTT button on the left spine. The former is easy to find when you're on a call, but the latter is too small and rather stiff. Just below is the headset jack, which, unfortunately, is just 2.5 millimeters (we prefer a 3.5 millimeter jack). On the right spine you'll find the Micro-USB port that accommodates both a USB cable and a charger. We applaud Nokia for moving toward the Micro-USB charger standard.
The camera lens sits on the rear side of the phone. There's no flash or self-portrait mirror, but you can use the reflective skin to get vanity shots. A speaker sits on the bottom of the Mural, and the memory card slot is behind the battery cover. That's not the best place for it, though we're glad you don't have to remove the battery as well.
The large (2.25-inch) internal display supports 16 million colors and 320x240 pixels. It's bright, vibrant, and very easy on the eyes. The icon-based menu interface (Nokia Series 40, sixth edition) is simple and intuitive, though accessing some apps like Cellular Video involves way too many clicks. You can change the display font color and size.
The navigation array is flush, but its spacious layout made up for the lack of definition. There's a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a Web browser control, a music key, Talk and End/power buttons, and a camera shortcut. That's a nice assortment of options, though we'd prefer to have a dedicated back button. You can program the toggle with shortcuts and you can add additional shortcut icons to the display. The flush keypad buttons are spacious, with large numbers. They're somewhat, slippery, however, so it took us a few tries before we could dial and text quickly. The backlighting also could be brighter.
According to Nokia, the Mural's skin is made from 80 percent recycled plastic. What's more, the packing is made from 25 percent recycled materials, the user manual uses 10 percent recycled paper, and the handset is free of materials like asbestos, benzene, and CFCs.
The Mural has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, two e-mails, a street address, a birthday, a formal name and a nickname, a company name and job title, and notes. You can save callers to groups and pair them with one of eight polyphonic ringtones and a photo. Just remember that photos won't show up on the external display. The SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts.
Essential features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a to-do list, a calculator, a notepad, a full duplex speakerphone, a stopwatch, and a notepad. You'll also find stereo Bluetooth, a file manager, USB mass storage, PC syncing, voice dialing, a voice recorder, and modem support. You also can access POP3 e-mail, but you must use a clunky Web-based interface. And of course, the Mural is compatible with AT&T's PTT network.
As a 3G (UMTS) phone, the Mural offers the full set of AT&T's wireless broadband multimedia services. You'll find Cellular Video (streaming-video content) and AT&T Mobile Music (wireless song downloads through partners). The experience with the two applications is similar to that on other AT&T phones; both are minimalist in their designs, but the music player supports a wide variety of file formats and it offers features like album art, an equalizer, playlists, shuffle and repeat modes, and an airplane mode.