Nokia N70 Review

I’m not the typical cell phone user demographic. In other words, they aren’t building these phones for me. Some of the things I care most about in a mobile phone are:

  1. Durability. I’m going to beat the thing up. It needs to be reasonably tough, or at least not excessively fragile.
  2. Size and Weight. Like Goldilocks, I don’t want a phone that’s too big nor too small. Just right means it fits semi-comfortably in my pocket but it’s not so small that I can’t hold it in my fat fingers.
  3. Data. I actually care about the data features. Right now I have unlimited GPRS (I understand T-mobile doesn’t offer this anymore). I don’t use it very often, but when I want it, I want it, and I want it to work well, with good MacOS X compatibility.
  4. Bluetooth. Now that I’ve had a few generations of Bluetooth with iSync on the Mac and using the phone as a data modem via Bluetooth, I’m not going back to wires again. Bluetooth is also great for getting photos off the phone, and setting up ringtones, screen savers and such.
  5. Simple to use – a Normal keypad. My phone is a tool, not a lesson in technology. As with a PDA, my metric is if I need the manual to do something fairly common (i.e. something that’s part of the 80/20 rule), it’s a bad design. Also I can’t deal with those funky shaped keypads with the keys in the wrong places. I’m old school. My phone better have the standard telephone keypad arrangement.

A nice to have is a decent speakerphone. It really comes in handy in the car.

Also to set some expectations, I should probably mention a few popular features I don’t care about in a mobile phone:

  1. Bluetooth headsets. Bluetooth is supposed to be for the cool headsets. I bought a $200 Bluetooth headset and I never use it. Too much trouble. But for data and syncing, as noted above, Bluetooth is oh so convenient.
  2. Camera. I never thought I cared about having a camera. I certainly never use it to send pictures phone to phone, as all the advertisements told me I should. It is, however, really nice to always have a quick-shot camera available. I’m hooked on phones with cameras now.
  3. PDA features. I mentioned above that I use iSync. Well, I have to admit, not that often. I do use the contact list, and I once in a while put in a reminder of some sort, but I do not use the phone for my main calendar, to-do list, etc.

I have actually had the N70 for a while now and this review has been sitting in my pending box for too long. I had put it off because the final thing I wanted to talk about, using the phone with iSync and as a modem on the Mac, required some updates and such on my Mac. I finally got around to that, and so now I have no more excuses.

Before getting the N70, I had an N90 — for about a day. I knew right away that was not the phone for me. It’s a magnificent phone, with a beautiful screen, and an amazing camera. I knew right away though that it was too fragile for my style and it was also rather heavy (with all those really nice optics).

So given all the above, the N70 suits me quite well. It’s pretty much exactly what I want in a phone, and perhaps a bit more.

Screen. The N70 has a large screen for the relatively small size of the phone. It’s much brighter and more pleasing to look at than the screen on my old 6600.

Keyboard. Despite much of the real estate of the phone being devoted to the screen, the keyboard is still usable. The keys are somewhat small, especially the number keys, but it doesn’t require a stylus and I don’t have any difficulty using it, even at my advanced age.

Camera. As I noted above, camera features are not my biggest concern, but I have to say the N70 camera is really handy. It takes photos that can be usable, perhaps even to print and keep. It’s got a slow shutter speed (or digital equivalent) and the flash is pretty useless, but it is possible to take decent pictures, if you’re careful and steady. Catching motion is pretty much impossible. The N70 actually has two cameras. Its got a low-res camera that points forward and is intended to be used for video conferencing. I haven’t used that for anything beyond parlor tricks. The fact that Bluetooth makes downloading photos taken with the phone to a PC or Mac so easy and convenient, makes the camera feature so much more valuable. If I had to hook up a cable, or email the photos to get them off the phone, I would use it far less frequently (if at all). The camera in my 6600 was really limited. The N70 camera is actually practical.

Sound Quality. I see a lot of phone reviews that never talk about actually talking on the phone. The N70 offers good sound quality using the earpiece. It has a built-in speakerphone, which is not too bad. It’s much better than the (almost useless) speakerphone I had on my 6600, but it is not as good as the speakerphone on my wife’s (now ancient) 6610

Messaging and Web. If you use any of the Symbian phones, you already know about the N70. I don’t see anything unique. Other people have covered this pretty well. I certainly encourage using the Opera browser over the default one that comes with the phone. I don’ t have a POP3 client on the phone for email. My service (T-mobile) uses a proxy scheme for email to the phone. Sending an email with the phone is easy using the built-in messaging features.

Using GPRS on the Mac. Mac OS X 10.4 supports the N70 out of the box. The Mac’s modem dialer makes a connection to the phone via Bluetooth and you end up with a TCP/IP connection that lets you use the Internet anytime from anywhere. The phone can be in your pocket while you surf the net. With my T-mobile service I get a connection that doesn’t require a web proxy and even supports other protocols such as SSH (details may vary by mobile carrier).

Java et al. The phone supports J2ME midlets. As can be seen in the photo above, I have a PhoneGnome convergence application on my N70 (see My PhoneGnome Java Midlet). It was easy to install the app via the browser. Apps you add sit in the “My Own” folder on the N70.


I only have a few minor nits with this phone. When a call is coming in, all the keys light up in bright blue. For an old fart like me, it can be hard to remember which key answers the phone and I can’t tell the green key from the red key with the keys all lit up in bright blue (the answer key looks suprisingly similar to the hang-up key when they are both flashing blue). Battery life is not great, although I got used to that with my 6600. Probably worse than the actual life, is the rather non-linear way it goes dead. One minute it shows a full charge, and the next it’s dead. It seems like there is something fishy with the battery level indicator (curious to know if anybody else has the same issue). Basically, it’s usually not that big of a deal. Just charge the phone every night, or worse case, every other night, whether it needs it or not.

Overall, the N70 is a really nice phone. Until a practical wi-fi SIP dual-mode phone comes along, the N70 will continue to serve my needs.

UPDATE: see N80i Review here

23 comments for “Nokia N70 Review

  1. I have recently upgraded my phone to the new N70. But when trying to do a backup of the phone contents using PC Suite my phone crashes, i can
    not now i am using for backing my contacts on web.

  2. ive had my n70 for 4 months now ive had a few hitches with it, it seems to like choosing its own ring tones even the ones you have set for particular people, it also likes erasing contacts and makes a rather funny noise when you hold it to ur ear,[would like to know if any1 else shares these problems] all tho it looks nice and has amazing sound quality it certainly has a mind of its own. and the comment from mr blogg about the battery i hav the same problem, my last phone i had was the 6230i there was still good power at the last bar the n70 seems to just give up at that point so i have a spare battery.

  3. I own a N70 since over a year and find it to be a very good phone. It does have a few problems.
    1. The ringer wouldn’t work at all, till Nokia released a patch almost 3 months after the launch
    2. The photos cannot be stored in different folders, hence retreival is very cumbersome.
    3. The default video mode is not compatible for MMS and hence it took me a while to figure that out.
    4. Some of my missed calls get automatically deleted from my log

    If any one has solutions to my problems please email. Thanks

  4. I have a problem…I bought the N-70 about a year back. The quality of the pics shot by the camera were superb – until recently, i have observed that the pictures are not like before. Pictures resolution does not appear so clear ….Can anyone please advise ?

  5. I have the same problem no 4 as Anat above, but in my case all of my recent numbers dialed, received, or missed, is not showing at all. I have cleared the recent list just to see if it wouldn’t work, but alas, still nothing…

    Please, let me know if anybody knows how to fix this problem.

  6. N70 great phone
    um to Donna
    My N70 Seems to make a buzzing noise to when I hold it to my ear. I think it might be the system . Because it’s so powerful:D

  7. Indeed the N70 is a great phone. Sometimes the phone seems to lag a bit but I can live with that. Does anyone know how to connect the N70 to a PDA via bluetooth. I need this so that i can surf to the website
    Has anyone done this before?

  8. the point of the calls not registering, i too had this problem. you need to take the battery out and remove the sim give it a once over clean reinsert and you’ll be back in bussiness. Found this out by calling nokia. Dumb solution and i’m finding the need to do this more and more. Also anyone else havin issue with PC sync i try to connect via bluetooth and my whole system just freezes. Any ideas would be nice

  9. Can anyone suggest me the solution to the following please:
    a. my N70 restarts by itself and sometimes i have to restart it myself.
    b. when restarted, most of the times, only the white screen appears, no logo, no nothing is displayed
    c. while starting up, the start up tone and logo are sometimes heard/seen and sometimes not
    d. the signal display just vanishes from time to time

  10. I am so disappointed in the N70. I let it fall by accident and now it is scratched and ugly! It is absolutely not durable! And now I am stuck with it!!

  11. Hi I am also a N70 usre for over 1yr. Well to solve the issue of number not beeing registered all you need to do is restart & not the sim clean stuff. I learnt this doing R&D. To remove the freezing issue try to upgrade the Pc suite and also connect the phone via a cable and try to update the PC using the site if u use MS based operating system.

    I do not use MMS so am unaware of the vedio issue. However I do have an issue of ringtoned beeing changed by the handset by its will. If any one has any ideas on how to get the issue resolved pls let me know.

  12. I have the same problem no 4 as Anat above, but in my case all of my recent numbers dialed, received, or missed, is not showing at all. I have cleared the recent list just to see if it wouldn’t work, but alas, still nothing…

  13. I have had this N70 for about 6 months just recently when i tried to call my girl friend she cannot hear me but i can hear her. She told me in a email that she can recieve calls from other people but she cannot hear me. Please help before get rid of my N70. I am in Iraq and she is in Afganistan. Thanks

  14. I recently purchased a Nokia N70 about a week now. I love the phone and it has a superb functionality.Great in taking pictures and not to mention a smooth sound when you use the phone while on MP3 mode during a boring day @ work. I only notice that the battery life is not that good but I was able to solve the problem by just recharging it for 4 hours instead of 1.5 hours.It lasted for 3 days using all its function. I work for T-Mobile as a Cust Advisor and I know what phones are not best buy and phones that you shouldnt buy. By the way the metal matte finish always leave a fingerprint so I make sure I have this special cloth to wipe it new again. I love the phone it is sooooo sleek and it is a handsome phone for handsome guys like me. hehe

  15. well i have a n70 and recently install a bluetooth enhancer but not realising it was for 6630. anyway i removed it then the following day i was playing a 3gp clip at work and the sound cut off halfway through. now i have no sound from loud speaker and ringtones cant be heard. all i can hear is keypad tones.. i have checked all setting volumes are up.. nothing muted. i have reset the phone and updated the firmware but no joy.. please can anyone help revive my phone..
    please can anyone help i have no mobile and i love my n70..

  16. my N70 just 1 month old is showing peculiar type of problem. when the network is slightly poor some keys work spontaneously eg. musicplayer starts, gallery opens, 4 and 0 displayes spontaneously,,i have already got software reinstallation in nokia care centre but the problem is still there. can anybody help please reply

  17. my N70 just 1 month old is showing peculiar type of problem. when the network is slightly poor some keys work spontaneously eg. musicplayer starts, gallery opens, 4 and 0 displayes spontaneously,,i have already got software reinstallation in nokia care centre but the problem is still there. can anybody help please reply

    Posted by Dr. Partha @ 07/18/2007 10:42 AM PST

    try to update your firmware at nokia software supported using nokia software update.

  18. got an n70 love this phone video sound is wicked for concerts compared to my samsung d900 which destorts but went to a gig recently got some good footage but it was on mute is thier anyway of getting the audio of phone or would this have recorded in mute?

  19. hi, im a n70 user just recently and i was hoping to know if there is a way that i can mute the camera shutter sound? and is it normal for my phone to be slow when opening some functions?

    gladly to hear some advice or solutions to my questions from you guys. thanks

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