Review: Nokia 7230
Not everyone needs a phone with a million apps and a 20MP camera.
Sometimes you just want to make calls, text and browse the internet for basic information, with a little style thrown in.
Something like the Nokia 7230 slider phone for example.
At only 10 x 5.5cm when folded, you’re easily able to slip the Nokia 7230 into your suit or trouser pocket with ease.
But it still packs plenty of everyday essentials, including a featured 3.2MP camera, 3G connectivity, a media player with radio and a 2.2-inch screen for viewing everything from messaging and checking your email through to web browsing and fast access to Facebook and MySpace.
And there are apps too via Ovi if you want them, with a few demo games and utilities to get you going. All of that in a phone that’s mostly free on contract or at £129 should you opt for pay-as-you-go, which isn’t bad as a stylish-looking 3G phone.
Nokia 7230: Design
Small, functional and with smooth curves the 7230 is classic Nokia design. Sized at 98(h) x 48(w) x 14.75(d) mm and weighing in at 100g, the phone is small and light enough to fit into anyone’s bag or pocket, with curved, chromed edges that contribute to an ergonomic shape for your hand.
Within the fairly minimalist design is a mini-USB slot (although the cable for hooking up the phone to a USB slot doesn’t come as standard), a headphone point and those front facing controls for accessing/ending calls, along with an additional three menu-based controls for getting round the 2.2-inch TFT screen.
Memory card slot? That’s located inside the handset, with a 2GB microSD down to come as standard..
The rear of the phone is devoted to photography, with a dedicated camera key on the side (or on top if you’re taking pictures in landscape) turning your phone into a reasonable outdoor snapper in seconds.
The sliding mechanism is a dream, a ‘glide’ rather than a ‘clunk’, exposing a keyboard that’s spacious enough for error-free typing and sufficiently responsive when you hit the keys. When you close the slide, the phone automatically locks, kicking off that lock when you flick it back open.
Running on the Symbian Series 40 platform, the Nokia 7230 has a functional, if unspectacular interface, offering up three ways of accessing the phone’s main functions.
With a click of that central menu button, you’ll see icons for all of the basic functions or alternatively, the left-hand selection key brings up the highlights on a scrolling list. The right-hand key offers quick access to your contacts.
Finally, opting for the Home Screen mode brings up mini icons for media and networking to scroll through.
Which one is best? To be honest, we found ourselves using all three randomly, with none of the menus offering quite what we wanted on first use.
But don’t despair, you can change the shortcuts to your own preferences with a bit of time and effort through the menu settings, so if web access on the go is a big thing for you, just stick a quick icon to it on the home screen instead of Facebook.
But even allowing for that, the interface does seem a little messy purely by trying to cover too many bases.
Granted there isn’t a touchscreen interface to play with, but one well thought-out way of accessing all functions (like on the lower budget Samsung Genio Slide) would certainly be better than the three different solutions currently on offer.
When you first log in, you’ll also be offered the option to sign up to Ovi for phone-based email.
It’s something Nokia is rightly proud of, but we found the experience slow and not without error messages.
We got there in the end, but with the thought that the Nokia 7230 might be used by first-time phone and email users, it is something that needs tightening up.
Nokia 7230: Calls and contacts
Nokia has been making mobile devices for as long as most of us have been alive, so as you would expect, the calling side of the 7230 runs as smoothly as a high-end sports car.
Voice calls are clear, with no obvious drops in the network as we were using it.
Accessing calls is also a doddle (just a slide and touch of a button), the ringtones, which are both available as presets and MP3, are loud enough to wake the heaviest of sleepers and the keypad is large enough to accommodate the biggest of fingers when fumbling to answer.
Setting up contacts is just a matter of entering details in a few fields, although you can augment your entries with personalised images and sounds, as well as web and email details. Accessing is just as easy, simply press the right hand soft key and you’re flung into the contacts list.
There’s a big, bold font for typing out and reading those texts and an equally large message when a call is incoming. No video calling, but we suspect you’ve already guessed that one on a handset for this price.
Once upon a time, mobile phones were all about calling and texting. These days, some sort of email access is pretty much an added necessity for communication and you’ll certainly find enough options for email here. Whether it’s sufficient for your needs is another matter.
As we mentioned earlier, the SMS functionality is simple, straightforward and pretty much faultless. With the added option of multimedia (MMS) messaging, bold message notifications and an easy-to-use keyboard, firing out and receiving random thoughts and images was a breeze.
If texting or sharing your latest photos is your thing, you’ll find much to love here.
Email, on the other hand, is something that just might frustrate. As we alluded to earlier, signing up for Ovi wasn’t without its problems, despite a fairly solid network reception at the time. But once there, we were able to send an email from that account without any further problems.
If Ovi isn’t for you, there’s also the option of logging into Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo or just about any other email service. But slowly. Very slowly.
The logging in process to all the services was time-consuming and once in, the wait to get anything but the mail headers was so slow, you wondered if it would be quicker to have sent or received a letter via Royal Mail.
Over a 3G connection, there’s really no reason why email messages shouldn’t load from a webmail service in a matter of seconds, no matter how much the phone costs.
If that’s a disappointment, the added bonus here should be instant messaging via Ovi. Don’t worry if you haven’t got any Ovi mates, the service also allows access to friends on the likes of Windows and Yahoo Messenger, along with Google Talk.
If you’ve already signed up for the Ovi account earlier, just login with those details and you should get taken to the chat interface. Sadly for us, all our attempts to ‘set up chat’ after successfully logging in were greeted with a blank screen.
Does this mean there’s some sort of incompatibility somewhere? We don’t know. We’ve just marked it down as a big, fat fail.
Not one, but two email browsers are offered with the Nokia 7230, the Opera Mini browser and a separate on-board browser from Nokia.
Opera is always a solid web solution and that’s certainly the case here.
A good zoom function works well with the relatively small screen, pages of our favourites sites render in a decent web-like manner and sites that give thought to mobile access (TechRadar and the BBC for example) come out particularly well.
Indeed, connectivity was brisk for most of the sites we loaded, even when the connection dropped from full 3G. Obviously you can bookmark your favourite feeds and sites, making the browser here a definite plus.
But if Opera isn’t your bag, there’s always the Nokia browser. It renders just as well, but nowhere near as fast and with far less options than Opera.
It also renders in ‘full size’, so you’ll need to do a bit of scrolling around the page too to find what you want. But essentially it’s horses for courses.
Try them both out, you’ll certainly prefer one – just stick to that one in future.
Alternatively, if your web use is pretty much confined to using Facebook and MySpace, just load up the on-board apps for both services.
Yes, you can access the full selection of apps at the Ovi Store, which is just a click of an icon away, but Nokia knows its audience and offers the two social networks apps as standard. No Twitter? Sadly not, but two out of three isn’t bad – although we’re not sure if anyone really uses MySpace any more.
The Facebook app in particular is fairly strong, offering pretty much everything you get on the web-based service – messages, photos, networking, friend-finding – it’s all here on the go, possibly even beating the inbuilt options on phones like the HTC Legend.
Likewise, MySpace offers up all the information and editing options, even if the layout of a little more functional.
To use a footballing analogy, the 3.2MP camera on the Nokia 7230 is very much a ‘game of two halves’.
In general terms, the camera is incredibly simple to use, just hit the camera icon and you’ll be able to capture stills in landscape or portrait format, with extras like a self-timer, white balance and effects (greyscale, sepia, solarise etc) giving your average low-end compact a run for its money.
Indeed, we were quite impressed with the detail of the snaps we took out and about compared to what we expected.
OUT AND ABOUT: A country walk captured with a good amount of detail
REDUCED LIGHT: Even in the woods, the amount of detail captured by the Nokia 7230 is impressive
But there’s no flash on the Nokia 7230, making the camera here a reliable outdoor friend on a bright day, but less than able in a pub, club or simply around the house.
INDOOR PHOTO: A typical bright spring day outside, but the 7230 struggles to offer any kind of clarity on a room shot
INDOOR DETAIL: Quality improves indoors for detail rather than a wide shot, but still struggles for clarity
EFFECTS: A similar photo is much improved with the addition of the sepia effect for a follow-up shot
Video is a bonus, but don’t expect to be the next Spielberg with it. Quality is shaky and colours a little off, nice for a quirky little clip of the dog in the garden, not great for recording a special birthday.
IN THE PARK: Bright outside, but that’s not easy to see with this grainy video footage
IN THE WOODS: A lack of light makes the detailing of the video clip even harder to view
On the plus side, Nokia makes it nice and easy to share your moments. The previously-mentioned picture messaging is your obvious way of doing this, but you can also directly upload to Flickr (via the built-in app) or go for Nokia’s own Share on Ovi, again pre-loaded onto the handset and all easy to use once you’ve signed up.
There’s also a fourth option – with Bluetooth built-in, you can fire over to another device wirelessly. All a bonus, but you do wish there was some kind of flash too, because the camera could and should be a real selling point.
If we use the humble iPod as a benchmark for portable audio, it’s safe to say that the media player on-board the Nokia 7230 isn’t anywhere near that level.
Getting your music on the handset is a case of drag and drop (or transfer via Bluetooth). Note that a cable for connecting to your PC doesn’t come as standard, which is slightly frustrating. Once music is on the phone comes another disappointment, the sound quality.
Playback via either the external speakers or the included headphones has a distinct echo and even at moderate volume, the audio starts to break up slightly.
On the plus side, if your MP3 or AAC files are tagged, Nokia’s player does a neat job of subdividing your tunes, as well as allowing you to create your own playlists and making it easy to send (as a message), upload or transfer your tracks wirelessly.
In summary, the functionality is good, but the audio quality is distinctly average.
Video playback tends to suffer from the small screen. If you like the idea of squinting at a 2.2-inch screen for entertainment, it might be for you. It’s also good for checking those mini movies you’ve just shot, but for us we would prefer our video on a larger screen, like the HTC Tattoo, as a minimum.
If transferring tunes sounds or squinting at video sounds like a chore, the Nokia 7230 also comes with an FM radio. We’re not usually impressed with such things on a mobile, but this one is a bit of a gem.
Autotune comes at a touch of a button, reception is good, as is the sound quality in relation to your average home FM radio.
The only slight annoyance is the radio being a few clicks away from the media interface, really it should be operating in the same zone. Note also that the radio only works with the headset, so no blasting Chris Moyles all over the morning bus commute – although you can switch to speaker mode if you’re that way inclined.
The one plus of having less multimedia options on a phone is less wear and tear on your battery. We’ve been hammering the camera, the video recorder, the music player and the web access and the battery has stood up to it very well.
Talk time is over four hours, with standby at a healthy 14+ days and even with using all those added features, we found the battery didn’t need to be charged for three to four days of heavy use. If you like your phone in your hand rather than in a socket, you’ll like the Nokia 7230.
Nokia 7230: Organiser
If you find life drifting away from you, the on-board organiser might offer just the helping hand you need. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a calendar with the option to add notes and view appointments by day, week or month and little audio reminders of what’s coming up.
Simple and effective, but no syncing with any online calendars if you are looking for that – that’s par for the course at this price, with others like the INQ Mini 3G missing out on the synchronisation game too.
Other added tools include a calculator, alarm clock, a ‘to-do’ list, timer and stopwatch, as you would expect, along with a conversion tool for weights and currency, as well as a size convertor, should you be shopping in a foreign land.
You know, the kinds of things you don’t know you need until you actually need them.
Connectivity on the Nokia 7230 has been steady, if unspectacular. Basic connection never died completely, but for a 3G phone, we haven’t seen that 3G symbol nearly enough.
Ok, that might be down to the local network, but having used other handsets in the same area, this particular phone is certainly no better and occasionally, seems worse.
No Wi-Fi on board the Nokia 7230 as you have probably guessed, so when it comes to web browsing and accessing email, the variable 3G might be a problem. We have certainly found it frustrating.
The phone does come with Bluetooth and it’s very easy to use. Testing it with a Mac, it’s just a matter of turning it on, pairing and you’re away. Transfer speeds were very brisk, with an MP3 transferring in less than a minute.
Just as well really. The lack of a cable to hook up to a PC in the box means Bluetooth is pretty much your only way of transferring data to and from a PC/Mac when you get the phone. If you do plan on picking up a 7230, make sure you grab the additional cable off the shelf too.
Nokia 7230: Other
There’s a welcome bonus in Nokia’s Maps being pre-installed on the phone, which offers up both mapping basics and directions to your chosen UK location.
No GPS here, but if you just want directions, the app is very nippy and as a helping hand round an unfamiliar town, Maps offers a very useful (and free) bonus.
Games are always included and the 7230 is no exception. Take your pick between trial titles and free favourites, specifically Asphalt 4 Elite, Bounce Tales, Brian Challenge, Midnight Pool 2 and Rally Stars, plus Snake 3 and Sudoku.
The trial games are slightly frustrating in that you can only get so far, but to be honest, none of them made us want to go out and buy.
Finally, a voice recorder can record all those moments of inspiration you have on the move. Decent sound, easy to use, a nice thing to have.
Nokia 7230: Comparison
Comparisons are tough because the 7230 falls between the budget market and higher-end sliders, but you might also want to check out the Sony Ericsson Aino , which adds more bulk and a bigger price tag, but does come with GPS, a far better media player and BBC iPlayer out of the box.
Alternatively, messaging and networking on a budget is available via the INQ Chat 3G coming in at under £100.
Finally, if you want your slider to multi-task, do media to a high standard and offer up a touchscreen interface too, check out the Palm Pre.
To compare the Nokia 7230 with the cutting-edge touchscreens of the day is unfair. After all, it’s a moderately-priced handset that comes without any claims of being a world beater.
It’s small, it’s fairly stylish and it offers up just about all the basics you could ask of a mobile phone, even if some of those functions are more successful than others.
There’s also 3G connectivity, a big plus for the price point.
It also comes with a range of apps and extras you might not expect for a phone in its price bracket, a good quality outdoor camera and decent web interaction for example, not to mention solid apps for social networking.
But in the end, the Nokia 7230 is simply punching above its weight. Scratch the surface and many of those features just don’t cut it against the big boys.
There’s no denying that the Nokia 7230 is an attractive handset offering a budget-friendly 3G experience, good calling and messaging functionality, a strong battery life and some decent tools for both web use and social networking.
But intermittent problems with Ovi, a flash-free camera, poor quality media player and disappointing email highlight just why the handset sells in this price bracket.