Nokia has a reputation for producing phones of all shapes and sizes and the 7710 pushes this to the extreme by not looking like a phone at all. Lacking a keypad, it has buttons on the left and right sides of a widescreen format display. It looks more like a games console than a phone.
Don't be fooled, however. The Nokia 7710 is good for voice and data traffic, and much more besides. Its software is similar to that used in the 9500 Communicator and 9300 Smartphone. Both those devices are aimed more at the professional than the consumer, but Nokia has added in a whole host of multimedia features to give this £350 handset broader appeal.
The Nokia 7710 is large, large, large. Forget putting this beastie into a top pocket as its 69 by 128 by 19 mm and 189g require something altogether more substantial. Indeed, if you want to fully protect the vast screen, you'll need to use the provided carrying case, which bulks it out even more.
We've already noted the games console-like hardware design. This encourages you to use the 7710 in a landscape format, held between two hands. The screen is not up to console standards, offering just 65K colours when other phones are running to 262K, but it is clear and crisp, with its 640x320 pixels providing plenty of clarity indoors. However, we did find it easily washed out in sunlight.
One of Nokia's firsts on this handset is that the screen is touch-sensitive, offering you the choice of prodding at icons or using the hardware buttons to get around. Another first for Nokia is that it complements the touch-sensitive screen with handwriting recognition, and for this you'll need the stylus that lives in the bottom right-hand edge of the casing.
We mustn't lose sight of the fact that the Nokia 7710 is a phone, though the absence of phone buttons and a number pad on the front of the casing could be taken as evidence that Nokia doesn't seem to keen to shout about the fact. To make a call, you need to find the green Call key, which sits on the top edge of the casing. Next to this is the End key, and next to that the speaker key. All three are rubberised and pretty easy to press, but their positioning makes them almost seem like an afterthought.
Your SIM card lives next to the battery, and both sit under a large cover on the back of the 7710. The back of the casing is also where you'll find the lens for the built-in camera. There's no flash, no mirror and just a 2x digital zoom -- all of which is bit disappointing.
Overall build quality is mixed. There's a reflective sheen to the front buttons which is nice, and the two-tone grey with black trim design is appealing. But the back cover is large and feels a little flimsy -- you'll need to take care not to snap it.
The 7710 is crammed with software for entertainment, personal information management, communications and business use.
For example, there's a spreadsheet, document creator and viewer for PowerPoint presentations, the kinds of things you'd expect to see in a device aimed at professional users. Then there are music and movie players, and a built-in FM radio with 20 presets for the consumer market. it also has support for Visual Radio. The idea is that radio broadcasts are accompanied by data, allowing you to see info about playing tracks, buy ringtones, and so on. As we write this is not available in the UK, so we can't comment on how well it works.
For communications there is email, MMS and SMS support, all in the same application, and a Web browser. The browser is actually one of the best applications on the 7710. You can use the entire wide screen to display pages, and even the more complex sites we visited like Amazon.co.uk and BBC News were legible and clear.
Launching applications is easy. They appear as big icons on the main screen, and once you are in an application, large tappable buttons on the right of the screen offer options you are likely to want, with a menu providing access to more. In general the software design is good and the combination of touch screen and button usage is intuitive.
As we dug deeper, we found annoyances, however. Some applications take a while to load first time, though if you run them subsequently without having switched the 7710 off, they start much more quickly.
Making voice calls is rather more tricky than it should be for a mobile phone. The Call key brings up a list of dialled numbers, received calls and missed calls. To key in a number you need to tap the Telephone icon and use the on-screen number pad. It's a circuitous route and you can't do it single-handed. During testing, it wasn't possible to make calls while standing on a bus or train, carrying a shopping bag, or in other situations where only one hand was free.
Holding the 7710 to your ear to make calls feels a little strange, but Bluetooth is present if you want to use a headset. Pairing with our favourite headset was easy.
The 90MB of on board memory is plenty and its contents won't be lost if the battery runs down. It is augmented by a 128MB MultiMediaCard, with the 7710 supporting cards up to 512MB. Unfortunately the card's slot is under the battery cover, making swapping difficult.
For all its apparent multimedia capability, playing videos recorded with the built-in camera full screen was not entirely rewarding -- picture quality is not particularly good.
As already noted, voice calls are a pain to make. Audio quality, however, was good with the 7710 held to the ear, and the on-board speaker delivered well too. The speaker also performs well for music, but output to the provided headset wasn't wonderful. Furthermore, the Pop-Port connector means you can't easily use your own favourite earphones.
Battery life is quoted at between 3.5 to 12 hours -- a very wide range. We managed every day of our test period without draining the battery, but if you are a heavy multimedia user who likes several hours of music during each day, expect battery life to be on the short side of that range.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Tom Espiner