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Friday, 2 August, 2002, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
A shot of the future of phones
BBC News Online's Paul Brannan got to spend time with the Nokia 7650 phone before it is unleashed on consumers. Here he tells us what he thinks.

The Nokia 7650 camera phone, Nokia

I love it! After a whirlwind romance I have fallen head over heels for Nokia's newest baby, the 7650 camera phone.

It will end in tears, of course. I am already flirting with Sony Ericsson's P800 following a series of costly liaisons with the T68, SX45 and R380.

But let us not dwell on future promises or past relationships, the 7650 is here right now and it is smart and fun.

It is a little bigger than some of the slimmer models out there and weighs in at a Rubens-esque 154g.

But it is nice to hold and after the briefest of acquaintances we were able to get on famously.

Money maker

The proud Finnish parents have invested a great deal of time and energy in the development of their baby, their first phone to support Multi-Media Messaging.

And like the first-born of any family, the 7650 bears a heavy burden of expectation.

For users it is a fun device and is simple to use. You can take a picture, record a sound, add words and send the package to friends and family with minimum fuss.

The mobile industry is hoping that phones like the 7650 will drive data traffic and prompt a surge in the amount of money each user spends every month.

The Grand Canyon
You will struggle to capture sweeping landscapes with the 7650
They need the 7650, and other devices like the SonyEricsson T68i to succeed; their business plans depend on it.

The phone display is used as a viewfinder so there is no embarrassing squinting through squares of glass with a phone pressed to your head.

And who said the Finns were humourless? Each time you take a picture you hear the sound of a shutter opening and closing - a nice touch - and confirmation that something has happened.

The camera allows standard, portrait and night shots. There is no flash and it struggles at low light levels. Get up close to your subject in good light for best results.

Picture resolution is 640x480 pixels, but the phone screen can only display 176x208 and some shots can be quite disappointing.

The camera-phone combination is about utility and spontaneity, you will struggle to capture sights such as the Grand Canyon in all its majesty.

Monkey business

Lots of neat stuff spills from the phone's picture storage system. Snap away and then associate the pictures with people in your contacts list. When they ring, their picture pops up, rather than just a boring string of numbers.

Open in new window : The Nokia 7650
In pictures: Up close with the camera phone

A trip to the primate house may be on the agenda here, it just depends how you feel about your relatives.

At the highest quality on the standard setting you can store around 30 shots in the album, but if you are prepared to sacrifice a little quality then you can squirrel away more than 50.

Once you have seen the colour screen you will not want to go back to black and white. Menus are sharp enough to see without difficulty on all but the sunniest days.

Fast links

The interface is one of the best things about this phone. It has a joystick with 5-way navigation and a pictogram menu system that lets you whiz around with ease.

A chimpanzee, PA
Remind you of your relatives?
If you already own a Nokia then the navigation structure will already be familiar - this just makes it better.

The phone can swap images and data via infrared links and Bluetooth too.

Despatching those images should not take too long because it can use General Packet Radio Services to send them.

It also means that Wap is always on and browsing text services becomes useable. Check out the BBC's Wap site at www.bbc.co.uk/mobile

It also has polyphonic ringtones which means even more ways to irritate people, but they are really rather good. There is an embedded Latin number that may well have people dancing in the street.

Nokia 7650 facts
Weight: 154grams
Size: 114x56x26mm
Talktime: 2-4 hours
Standby time: 100-150 hours
Dynamic memory: 3.6Mb
Games: Snake, Mix Pix
Dual band
Alternatively, you might turn crimson with embarrassment, in which case opt for the classier Chopin or Bach.

On the downside there is the price of the phone for starters.

Sim-free it comes in at a shade under 450 and the price of MMS messaging is also pretty hefty.

Currently, only T-Mobile is offering MMS services and it adds an extra 20 a month to a bill.

And therein lays the difficulty for the telecoms companies. The appeal of MMS is much more likely to register at the youthful end of the market but they may not have the cash to support their messaging habit.

See also:

25 Jul 02 | Technology
20 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
04 Feb 02 | Business
15 Jul 02 | dot life
22 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
25 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
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