Nokia in 2004:
The Good, The Bad
and The Ugly. (And Everything in Between)
3rd December 2004
Of all mobile phone manufacturers, none
seems to create more interest than Nokia. And for Nokia,
2004 was one of their most difficult years. At the beginning
of the year it was clear that Nokia was rapidly losing
market share to its rivals who consistently offered
more interesting products, especially in the midrange
market. However, Nokia responded to the challenge and
by the end of 2004 began to stabilise the situation
by producing more products and lowering prices.
way back in February, but actually shipping at the end
of November, the Nokia
9500 (pictured right) was the very overdue replacement
for the 9210i that started shipping in 2002. Along with
the 8910i and the 8310, the 9210i was a dinosaur in
Nokia's range, and although much loved by its fans,
it was terribly out-of-date, not even supporting GPRS.
The 9500 is a huge improvement in software and
hardware terms, coming with EDGE and WiFi plus a VGA
resolution digital camera. It is a bit smaller
and lighter than the 9210i too, but still comes in at
a hefty 222 grams.
Nokia managed to upstage the 9500 with the announcement
of the Nokia
9300 (left), essentially a stripped down and more
compact version of the 9500 without WiFi or the camera,
coming in at just 167 grams and a little larger than
the old Nokia 6310i handset. Much closer in concept
to the previous 9210i model, the 9300 is due to ship
at the beginning of 2005, which is handy because it's
a much more attractive and desirable handset than the
9500 to many people. But in any case, these phones are
incredibly distinctive, and serve as fitting flagships
to the Nokia range.
Unfortunately, both the 9300 and 9500
run Symbian Series 80, which Nokia has indicated it
will not use going forwards, concentrating on derivatives
of their Series 60 and 90 operating systems. This is
a regrettable cloud over these handsets and will be
a worry for many potential corporate customers.
up at the high end of Nokia's range is the upcoming
(right) based on the cancelled Nokia
7700 media device. A staggeringly sophisticated
unit, it's due for release in early 2005 and makes up
for the disappointment of the 7700's cancellation. Like
the 9300 and 9500, this is a niche product but an important
one. Perhaps 2005 will see Nokia product a 3G version
of this, so that the 7710's rich media capabilities
can be seen to full effect.
with weird and wonderful Nokias, the rather unexpected
phone (left) showed that Nokia isn't afraid to
push the boat out in design terms. It's never destined
to be a mainstream phone, but there are design elements
that are sure to be included in other Nokias in 2005.
The biggest drawback with the 7280 though is price,
at almost €600 for a SIM free phone it is very expensive.
The SIM free price is important, because many people
would want the 7280 as a "second phone". It's
worth noting that Siemens tried a similar range of more
basic fashion phones with the Xelibri series at about
half the price, but this project was cancelled in 2004
because of slow sales. However, we suspect that Nokia
is happy to keep the 7280 as a low-volume, high-ticket
item for now.
little more conventional, but still not quite mainstream
is the Nokia
3230 (right) due in early 2005. A youth-orientated
Smartphone, it comes with a decent resolution screen,
camera, Bluetooth and expandable memory, plus a set
of clever applications for manipulating video clips
and playing back media. Strictly speaking, this is the
successor to the unpopular Nokia
3660, but we think it's much more like a mini
version of the 7710 (above). The basic hardware platform
is similar to the 7610 and 6670 phones which we'll talk
There's also a passing resemblance between
the 3230 and the chubby-cheeked Nokia
6630 (left), a practical 3G phone, and Nokia's first
real attempt at a mainstream 3G handset. In specification
terms, it's rather better than many 3G handsets, it
looks quite good and it has the all-important Nokia
badge on the front. Perhaps Nokia left it a little late
to come out with this, but we think it's come at the
right time and is available now on several different
was also the year that Nokia tried to get into the clamshell
market, after the rather strange Nokia
7200 announced in 2003. The Nokia
6170 (pictured right) is actually a rather dull
phone in technical terms, but Nokia have put it in a
drop-dead gorgeous stainless steel case and the phone
6170 wasn't the only not-terrible-advanced-but-well-packaged
phone. The Nokia
3220 is basically a fairly common and basic platform
with a couple of gimmicks thrown in, but it all works
rather well and the 3220 is certainly one of the most
fun handsets on the market. The replacement for the
this little phone is much better in terms of looks and
functionality. It even feels great when you pick it
in the "good" camp is the Nokia
2600 (right). This is an almost shockingly basic
phone, but it does come with a colour display and it
looks very smart too. This is almost the perfect budget
phone for someone who just needs to make phone calls
and send a text message from time-to-time, and it's
smart looks mean that it's not something you'd ever
be embarrassed to pull out of your pocket.
It's clear that Nokia have come up with
some first class handsets during 2004 and into 2005.
However, that not the whole picture, because there's
The Bad and the Ugly.
kick off with a phone that's both bad and ugly at the
same time, and in our view is not just Nokia's worst
handset of 2004, but in our view one of the worst handsets
ever made by a major manufacturer. We're talking about
the Nokia 7260
(left), a phone that combines really naff specifications
with jaw-droppingly awful looks. In hardware terms,
the phone looks like it's straight out of early 2003
rather than late 2004, and the styling is just a complete
7260's design was clearly designed to be similar to
the Nokia 7610,
which is a good phone in hardware terms, very similar
to the Nokia 3230 which we like a lot, but the 7610
was saddled with one of the most stupid keypads we've
ever seen. A lot of people love this phone, but we think
that Nokia spoiled it by daft styling. It actually has
a good screen, camera and counts as a Smartphone because
of the Symbian Series 60 OS. Had they designed something
a little more sober, then it would be a great phone.
However, at least the Nokia 7610's keypad has some sort
of design integrity, because..
was then rehashed as the Nokia
6670 "business" phone (left), basically
by gluing a keyboard from a Nokia
6600 on it. Although it shares pretty much the same
exact specifications as the 7610, the keyboard doesn't
go with the unit at all, and just looks a complete mess.
In our view, all Nokia needed to do was put the 7610
components in a sober housing and it would be great,
but as it is, the Nokia 6670 is a phone we'd just be
embarrassed to carry around.
at least the 7260 and 7610 showed some creativity. Nokia
managed to completely underwhelm us with the Nokia
6610i (right), a warmed over phone from 2002 with
a basic digital camera stuck on the back. We can only
imagine how desperate Nokia were to come up with something
this sad. Thankfully, we think that the 6610i might
be a short-lived handset. Unfortunately, the replacement
for the 6610i seems to be..
(left), which although quite attractive to look at offers
exactly nothing interesting in technical terms. We were
all hoping for a replacement for the classic Nokia 6310i
handset. This wasn't it, and quite why Nokia bothered
to develop it at all is a mystery to us.
Now.. we know that some people love
these handsets, and we believe that everyone is entitled
to their opinion.. including us. What we think we have
here is Nokia's problems in a nutshell. They're either
spoiling good products like the 7610 and 6670 with stupid
styling, or coming up with phones with no real unique
selling proposition like the 6020 and 6610i. Or worse
still, they manage to combine awful styling with poor
technical specifications to come up with the Nokia 7260..
a phone that should serve as a warning to future generations
of mobile phone designers on how not to do it.
Everything in Between
6260 (pictured right) is basically a enhanced
clamshell version of the Nokia
6230. Although it does some clever twisting and
swivelling, has a much improved screen and more powerful
operating system, it's an enormous and actually rather
lacklustre handset. Fortunately for
Nokia, it has the words "Nokia" written on
it which has meant that it's sold reasonably well.
(left) is a fashion clamshell phone due in early 2005,
and is more or less a straight replacement for the Nokia
7200. In hardware terms it's nothing special, but better
than many Nokias and has some interesting design features.
Again, this phone is clearly influenced by many others
in the 7000 series, but here it works rather well.
also updated the strange N-Gage
games console with the Nokia
N-Gage QD (right), ironing out some design flaws
and coming up with something cleaner and easier to use.
The original N-Gage was a bit of a flop, and the jury
is still out on the QD, but perhaps it will hit the
big time in 2005.
in our line-up is another odd looking phone, the Nokia
2650. Although we were rather cruel about its looks
when released, we must admit that it's a very nice phone
to handle and we've grown to like it. It's certainly
a different way of designing an entry-level clamshell,
although it would be nice perhaps if Nokia could design
a more normal clamshell than the range announced in
We've just covered the phones announced
in 2004 here, but plenty of phones from 2003 are still
selling well, including the Nokia 6230,
have also been some notable departures, including the
Nokia 6310i business phone, and the Nokia 3510i colour
phone which are still just about in the retail channel.
There are well over 40 Nokias currently on the market
(you can see most of them at ShopForPhones).
Nokia have promised dozens of new handsets for 2005.
You might love 'em or hate 'em, but even the ugly ones
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