It was nearly ten years ago that Nokia first released its groundbreaking Communicator. Back then, mobile phones were a new thing, most weren’t that slim or sleek and did only one thing.
When the original Nokia 9000 came along it broke new ground. It let you connect to the Internet, send and receive email and faxes and even make telephone calls. And, surprisingly you didn't need a suitcase full of batteries to make it work.
Nearly ten years later and the concept is no longer unique. Pretty much every phone you can think of is capable of doing the sort of job the 9000 was first designed to do – apart from, maybe, sending faxes – plus a whole lot more. You can take pictures with today’s phones, make video calls, and even watch the football highlights if that’s your thing.
Incredibly, though, in the face of all of this competition, the Communicator is still going strong and is now a well-established player in the smart phone market. There are two models in the range now – there's the ‘basic’ 9300 we're reviewing here, plus the 9500 Communicator, which adds more bells and whistles.
You might have thought that Nokia would have taken the opportunity to pack even its more basic smart phone with features in a bid to keep up with the mobile Joneses, but far from it. If you’re after designer chic you won’t get it here. If you want something small and light go buy a Razr. If you want to take pictures buy a digital camera. The 9300 is unashamedly a business tool and concentrates on that to the exclusion of all else.
An admirable approach, but in some respects Nokia has taken it a little too far with the 9300. There’s no vibrate function, for instance, a feature you’ll miss in the office and meetings and when you’ve got the phone stashed deep inside a pocket.
It's not pretty either, but at least the 9300 is still reasonably compact for what it is. This is Nokia’s most elegant Communicator design so far, and is a lot more pocketable than previous editions. In fact it’s not that much larger than Nokia’s venerable business phone – the sturdy old 6310 when folded up. It compares favourably to the current smart phone crop too, and it feels like you're using a proper phone when making voice calls rather than clamping a PDA to the side of your head.