Review Nokia is sponsoring X-Factor TV talent show this year, to promote its N series phones in general and the N73 in particular. Nokia's would-be star certainly has the looks to get it in the studio, but can it take it on the chin from the judges or will it be let down by a fickle public who got bored of waiting for it to respond to input..?
But enough pointless similes: the N73 is a candybar handset with a nice solid feel to it, with the majority of controls limited to a slightly-extended keypad on the bottom third of the front. It's smart enough for the most executive boardroom.
The screen takes up just less than half of the front of the handset and a very nice screen it is too. Bright and easy to read even in sunlight, the backlight apparently adjusts to reflect the ambient light and conserve battery life, not that we particularly noticed - which is as it should be. The resolution is 240 x 320 with 18-bit colour, but more importantly pictures look good and you can read it outside. On the screen is S60 third edition running on Symbian, providing the normal applications and idle screen functions one would expect of a smart phone these days.
The keypad is slightly squeezed, but the keys have nice bevels making them easier to use than they appear. The biggest problem with the keypad is that of thumb-use: if the phone is held in the right hand then reaching down with the thumb to press bottom-line keys is a stretch, especially the clear key in the bottom right corner, which encourages you not to make too many mistakes. Anyone with large hands will find entering text messages easier with two hands, one to hold the handset and another to peck at the keys, but at that point a Bluetooth keyboard might be a more sensible alternative.
On the right side there is a rocker for volume up and down, which doubles as a zoom control with taking or viewing pictures. The other two buttons on the side are the shutter control and gallery button, the former only active when the camera has been revealed.
Nokia makes much of the musical abilities of the N73. The phone sports built-in stereo speakers - both behind attractive-looking grilles - but this handset won't replace a hi-fi any time soon. Frequent travellers will be glad to know that you can hear the music from the shower, but there's no risk of disturbing anyone in neighbouring rooms, no matter how cheap the hotel. The addition of stereo, with speakers at the top and bottom of the handset to maximise distance and thus effect, seems to serve no useful purpose at all. You can hear in stereo, which is nice, but only if you have the phone balanced on its side across your nose - not an easy position to maintain at the best of times, and certainly not when trying to dance. Luckily, the sound quality using the supplied headphones is a great deal better.