Nokia adds new look in fashion to easy functions

Nokia has always been the self-styled pioneers of style in the mobile phone market.

So it’s only fitting that the Finnish phone group has decided to fuse communication with fashion. How much it will matter to consumers remains to be seen. A lifestyle magazine called Insight, produced by Nokia, accompanied the three phones sent for review.

Complete with an editor and writers, it had stories on fashion, the fashion media and profiles on designers and it isn’t until near the middle it even mentions phones.

It’s quite beautiful, very expensive looking and perfectly captures what Nokia wants people to think about the L’Amour collection.

All three models are a lavish blend of golds, ambers and browns and are indeed fashionable. Their market is obviously women but not teenage girls, so while each model in the L’Amour collection has what you expect in any phone, they aren’t packed with everything that opens and shuts.

The L’Amour collection is more about the object in your hands than what it can do.

The Nokia 7360, with a recommended price of $439, is a straightforward device. It’s more or less the mobile phone as we’ve all seen and used, with a screen at the top, buttons at the bottom and a camera on the back, but it’s had a swanky makeover.

The main button and surrounding selector pad are prettily bejewelled but if you have anything bigger than slender lady fingers or a good manicurist, you’ll start to wish it was a little flatter and less slippery. Its one outstanding feature is an incredibly long battery, which lasted almost a week during testing.

The 7370, priced at $629, is much the same but with a twist. The uppermost module spins away from the base to reveal the keys underneath, snapping into position for you to make a call and folding away again to a mere 8cm long.

The mechanism is addictive and producing a working device from such a small package with a flick of the wrist will make you feel classy.

By far the most interesting of the collection is the 7380, also the priciest at $899. Any mention of the word ‘click wheel’ will bring up an image of the iPod and it’s an association Nokia is perhaps hoping for.

When you first pick up the 7380 you expect something to flick or fold open to reveal the rest of it but, no, that slender, mirror-fronted machine is all there is.

When you slide your SIM card into a slot and turn it on, the tiny screen comes to life from behind the glassy face.

It’s no more than 3cm x 1.5cm but surprisingly clear. Combined with the click wheel and concentric circle of controls that surround it, it gives the 7380 arguably the cleanest phone interface ever seen.

Access to every function of the phone can be reached through the warm amber light, click wheel and four other buttons.

The numbers or letters to make a call or compose a text message appear along the bottom of the screen and you simply scroll along using the click wheel to the one you want.

It sounds nightmarish to scroll through 26 letters plus punctuation to send an SMS, but the predictive text has been put together smartly, and selecting each letter re-orders the list based on those you’re more likely to use given the context.

The 7380 feels good in the hand and it can slip it into your pocket or bag without worrying about whether you’re going to accidentally dial the time in Nigeria.

So while Nokia uses its considerable market clout and experience to go in bold new directions, it still commands a strong grasp on both form and function that’s been the basis of its success so far.

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