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Nokia N75 Review

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I’ve never understood the appeal of owning a mobile phone that plays and stores music. It may sound weird, but I’d much rather pack around my MP3 player and mobile phone rather than carrying around one device that does it all. Of course there are days when I curse myself for not bringing along my bag because having keys, a wallet, oversized mobile phone and MP3 player can become quite cumbersome and downright annoying. The bulges coming from every pocket of my pants tends to scream out ‘douchebag,’ too. I’ve had the Nokia N75 for a few weeks now and it does everything it’s intended to do quite well, but has this Finnish clamshell finally changed my mind about multimedia mobile phones?

Of all the music phones I’ve had the excruciating pain pleasure of tinkering with, the Nokia N75 has proven to be a standout and for those who actually want a music phone that does a few other worthwhile things, then you needn’t look any further. Its simple design, easy-to-use Symbian UI and AT&T’s 3G network make this a clear winner, but it’s far from perfect.

For starters, though ringtones can be downloaded via AT&T’s MEdiaNet service and UMTS does the job in a timely manner, I really wished the N75 would support HSDPA like the Samsung Sync, which is also offered on AT&T. Should I mention the fact that HSDPA is also cheaper than UMTS? Maybe not.

Let’s talk about the hot feature on the N75, which is music. There is an entire sub-menu that’s dedicated to music as well as having three external music controls and a dedicated music control on the main keypad. The biggest bummer is that you can’t purchase songs directly to your phone. WTF?! The fact that the integrated player supports MP3, WMA, AAC, eAAC+, M4A, as well as the dreaded DRM’d counterparts just makes me say, ‘feh.’ It’s a huge pain in the butt to upload the songs you purchase from your phone that get delivered to your PC. Does that make any sense?

Anyways, if you purchase tunes through AT&T Music, Napster to Go, Yahoo! Unlimited then you’re good to go. It’s a good thing they include a USB cable or I’d be raging mad. Upload tracks via Nokia PC Suite or just drag and drop. The N75 has a microSD slot that accepts a 2GB card, so make good use of it. I did like the fact that you can create your own playlists on the fly. The aforementioned external music controls let you playback all those hot tracks within a matter of seconds. The N75 also has MobiRadio and MobiTV in case you want to watch some streaming clips or listen to streaming radio. It works quite well thanks to 3G, but I suggest you bring along your charger if you’re one to get bored a lot.

Besides the obvious appeal being the music functionality is the camera. The Carl Zeissless 2-megapixel camera with built-in flash and 10x zoom offers six different scene modes for just about any situation you may find yourself, which includes Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Night , Night Portrait and User defined. Let’s be perfectly honest with each other on this subject. Pictures taken by any mobile phone in the 2-megapixel range aren’t going to land on the cover of any magazine, so just keep that in mind or take a look at the N95 and its 5-megapixel snapper. The N75 takes OK pictures for most situations and MPEG-4 video recording at 15fps is only limited by the amount of memory you have onboard and in the microSD slot.

Let’s not forget what the N75 is meant to do first and foremost: Make phone calls. The layout of the keypad is quite friendly and the oversized keys ensure you’ll hit those digits every time. Calls were clear on both ends, but call quality hasn’t been an issue for me with Nokia handsets. What I did find awkward and this usually happens with most clamshells is that I never know where to put my ear to get it right over the speaker. The N75 also felt like it would snap at the hinge if you applied any sort of pressure, which it will, so try not to do it. The talk-time was pretty disappointing and not even close to the four hours of talk-time it claims. I got a smidge over two hours from a single charge. That’s terrible, but we’ll blame it on the 3G network.

A few other features worth noting are QuickOffice that lets you view Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents, but you won’t be able to edit them unless you upgrade to the full version. IM users needn’t fret because the N75 keeps you connected to your Yahoo!, Hotmail and AIM e-mail and messenger services. The N75 also supports IMAP and POP3. The PM tools remain the same as other N-series phones.

The device itself is worth the $199.99 and 2-year contract, but you’ll have to deal with the hoops that AT&T will make you jump through to enjoy it.

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