Nokia’s 7710 is quite possibly the oddest handsets on the market today. It doesn’t have a number pad, and it looks more like a games console than a phone. This is all part and parcel of the bigger picture with this device, though – it is a true hybrid, and if my days of evaluation tell me nothing else, they shout loud and clear that any company wanting to offer the best of all possible worlds needs to think very carefully indeed about its approach – many times has such a concept been tried without success.
I say this because while the Nokia 7710 has built-in software for business users, for those needing data and voice communications, and for those looking for entertainment, it fails to offer the best experiences; instead having some real highlights and some grave disappointments.
The Nokia 7710 is the first unit to make it to market based on Nokia’s Series 90 platform. This builds on the Series 80 platform found in Nokia’s 9500 Communicator and 9300 Smartphone, but adds touch screen capability. Both Series 80 and Series 90 are built on version 7 of the Symbian operating system. The use of Symbian OS 7 means that Nokia has been able to bundle a huge array of software with the 7710. And it may well be this bundle that is part of the problem. Before I get to the fancy bits, though, I want to consider the staple of any mobile phone – making a voice call.
Despite the fact that the Nokia 7710 doesn't look like a phone, it is tri-band, and supports GPRS, EGPRS, HSCSD and EDGE. It has no number pad, and its physical design, with buttons at the very top and very bottom of its narrower sides flanking a screen measuring (according to my ruler) 40 x 80mm, looks much more like a gaming console arrangement that a phone arrangement. This is no mistake: you are encouraged to use the Nokia 7710 in widescreen mode, holding the hardware between two hands and thumbing the navigator, menu button and “Desk” (or application launcher) button with the left hand, zoom, back, and view-switcher buttons with the right hand.
So, when you want to make a voice call you can either tap the telephone icon on-screen then tap the “virtual” number pad which appears, or use the call button on the upper edge of the hardware to see a list of dialled numbers, received calls, and missed calls. In the former case you must attack the screen to make your call, in the latter you can either tap the screen or use the hardware buttons. But in neither case can you make a call using just one hand. The ergonomics for this don't work. What that means is that during test I couldn't make a call when I had only one hand free (eg when carrying shopping), and making a call while walking along was a more complicated process than it should be.