The Nokia 7210 Supernova is not as explosive as it sounds. In fact, it's as simple a phone as you can get these days.
With bright colours and basic features, it's well suited to be a pre-teen's first mobile. But a price tag of around £90 won't help the popularity of this unsophisticated handset.
Pressing the flesh
The 7210 is thin, at only 45 mm thick. We normally love a thin handset, but, combined with the 7210's flat keypad, it makes the phone hard to handle.
The keypad is totally flat, with raised ridges separating the rows of keys. Having featureless keys and raised strips that do nothing seems counter-intuitive. We also had to press the keys hard to get them to work, which made texting uncomfortable.
We also found the four-way navigation button too flush for easy pressing. From the home screen, each of the four directions can be programmed with a shortcut, which is handy because some features are a few clicks below the menu's surface. For example, the Flickr application is four menu levels down.
The 7210 felt flimsy and cheap to us. Removing the back plate to change the SIM card meant levering off a thin piece of plastic that felt as if it could snap in our hands.
The bold and the bland
The 51mm (2-inch) screen is small but clear, with a decent 240x320-pixel resolution. However, it only supports 262k colours, so it doesn't have the depth of a similar-sized screen, such as that of the Nokia E51.
We found the familiar Nokia user interface easy to use, but it's not particularly stylish or novel. When we looked at the cramped digital clock and bland icons on the home screen in the default Nokia theme, we smelled the sad odour of a budget phone.
Lost in the music
The 7210 has a music player that supports a good range of formats, including MP3, MIDI, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+ and WMA. It also has a built-in FM radio. Unfortunately, the 2.5mm headphone jack is old-fashioned, so we couldn't use our own flashy headphones with the 7210. It does come with earphones, but they're particularly cheap and tinny.
With 30MB of on-board memory, there's also not much room to store your music. There's a useful slot for microSD memory cards of up to 2GB, but none are provided with the handset. There's also no data cable included, so you'll have to pick that up separately if you want to sync the handset or transfer files.
The 2-megapixel camera doesn't have a flash or LED light, so we had to keep our hands steady and our breath held while taking photos in low light. The 7210 made a valiant effort to compensate with high exposure, but we found the low-light snaps unacceptably noisy. There's no dedicated camera button, but there's only a lag of a few moments between pressing the menu key and taking a photo. It did, however, take a life-wasting 8 seconds to write the photo to memory -- far too long for our gnat-like attention span.
The video-recording feature was much snappier, but the quality was terrible. We recorded our afternoon stroll around CNET Towers, and the picture was so jaggy that we could hardly recognise our team of elite tech ninjas.
Nokia emphasises the 7210's built-in Flickr uploading feature, and we found it easy to use, once we had unearthed it from under four layers of menus. Our snaps uploaded effortlessly, but, once we saw our photos on the big screen of our PC monitor, we could only sigh at the excessive noise, blur, washed-out colours and compression artefacts.
In the battery department, the 7210 also left us feeling flat. Nokia rates talk time at up to 5.4 hours and standby time at up to 300 hours, but, after a day of average use, the battery on the model we tested was heading for empty. We think that, considering this handset lacks 3G, Wi-Fi, a flash or other power-hungry features, battery life of a day is disappointing.
The Nokia 7210 Supernova doesn't live up to its namesake, the original 7210, a swappable-cover version of one of the greatest phones ever, the 8210. It's not ugly, but it has few features and its flat keypad isn't easy to use. With a budget appearance and user interface, we would expect this phone to be cheap as chips -- free in a cereal packet, maybe. But, with a SIM-free price around £90, and few operators offering it on a contract, there are plenty of other handsets that do the job better.
Edited by Charles Kloet