What's Good: Unique design; phenomenal QWERTY keyboard.
What's Bad: Battery life could be better; potential long-term build quality concerns.
In today's wireless market, phones seem to be standard when it comes to design. There's the candybar design, the ever-popular flip phone, and the sliding form factor, but the Nokia 7705 brings an entirely new design to market in the form of a twisting device (hence the "Twist" moniker). Despite the strange assumptions that most have when thinking of a twisting phone, the 7705 actually pulls off the design well. It's certainly a love or hate thing, but we give it creativity points for bringing a different form factor to light. Still, the question remains: despite a decent feature set, will it sell?
Design & Features
When in the open position, the left side of the device houses the volume rocker and a microUSB charging port, while the right side sports a 2.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot (with support for up to a 16 GB card). The front of the device sports a D-pad, two touch sensitive buttons, and a touchscreen "clear" button. Flip the screen open to reveal the QWERTY keyboard. The Twist has a hinge in the form of a hole, which is used for LED notifications and potentially for carrying the device.
There's no doubt about it: the Twist will turn heads. Designed like no other phone in the industry to date, it's a refreshing change in the sea of typical form factors. Despite that, the two primary issues that we see in the design of the device are (a) the fact that the screen is on the outside of the device, making it prone to scratches, scuffs, and the like; and (b) the twisting hinge and the potential for build quality issues in the future. Even after using the demo unit for a week, there's a wiggle in the hinge, and it's easy to notice that the two square pieces don't line up exactly (like you would imagine them to out of the box). Not a big deal, but the question in our minds is this: if these things are happening a week or so into using the device, what can be expected in a year of moderate to heavy use?
True to their recent eco-friendly roots, Nokia's packaging is minimalist, offering a small box with the device, a charger, instruction manual, and spare battery back. Coming in at 2.71 inches wide by 2.71 inches long by 0.59 inch thick, the Twist weighs in at 3.44 ounces, making it perfect for the pocket or the purse. The 2.4-inch QVGA display houses 262,000 colors and 320 x 240 pixels. It's a relatively basic display, but it gets the job done.
Usability & Performance
The Twist offers a reasonable level of customization. Through Verizon's stock user interface, six display themes can be selected, and seven wallpaper options are pre-loaded. Nokia's "Habitat Mode" is also an option, which arranges recent calls and messages as avatars on the home screen. Though Verizon's stock interface is largely present in the Twist, when selecting Habitat Mode, one can see a tiny amount of Nokia influence in the software. The Twist supports instant messaging and e-mail, though the latter costs $9.99 monthly to maintain. With several small charges such as e-mail and Visual Voicemail for $2.99 monthly, it may make more sense to purchase a smartphone if you plan to use the data-centric features.
We were most impressed with the Twist's QWERTY keyboard. With just the right amount of room between the keys, a near-perfect layout, and a great tactile feel, it could be the best keyboard we've used on a QWERTY multimedia device. The keys are perfectly sized (with a large spacebar to boot), making it easy to type long text messages, e-mails, and URL's. In our testing, the keyboard was able to keep up everything we threw at it, even while typing at 50-60 words per minute. Additionally, shortcut keys to text messaging, music, web, voice recognition, speakerphone, and camera can be found in between the send and end keys.
The Nokia Twist offers a 3.0-megapixel camera, and in our testing, image quality was slightly below average. Our test pictures were decent given the right amount of light, but were near impossible to discern in low light situations, despite having a flash. Neat features include 4x digital zoom, autofocus, five shooting modes, self-timer with four options, five different picture resolutions, brightness, white balance, customizable shutter sounds, color effects, and more. Video quality was mediocre at best. Decent for those afternoon videos of the dog walking, but that's about it. For MMS, the Twist allows recording for up to 30 seconds, while regular videos have no time limit.
We tested the Twist in the Charlotte area, and call quality was good. Callers had no problem hearing us, and call quality was clear on our end as well. Despite the Twist showing lower bars than other Verizon devices (e.g. when the Twist would show three bars, the Samsung Rogue would often show four), it performed just as admirably. When we went to a known Verizon fringe area, we found calls to sound equally clear, despite the Twist showing no bars of service. We successfully paired the Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset to the device, and Bluetooth functions were clear and easy to use. The Twist's speakerphone was sufficiently loud; we tested the device in a busy coffee shop, and we could hear our callers well.
Though there was some reported background noise, callers told us that they could understand most of the conversation. Though the Nokia Twist is an EVDO Rev. 0 device, we were relatively pleased with data speeds. The full PhoneDog homepage loaded in 26 seconds, and other data-intensive tasks loaded well throughout the testing. The Polaris HTML web browser was easy to use, and functions within the browser were self-explanatory. Though a good bit of scrolling was required for browsing a page from beginning to end, it was usable. Keeping that in mind, if web browsing is going to be a primary task, you may want to consider a smartphone.
Estimated talk time is 4.5 hours, and in our testing, battery life was reasonable. With moderate use encompassing text messaging, calling, e-mail, and the occasional web browsing, we were able to make it just over a day before the low battery warning flashed. With little to no use, the device lasted just under three days. As with any device, battery numbers will vary with the level of usage that they're subjected to between charging cycles, but the Twist should please most users.
The Nokia Twist isn't going to win everyone's hearts, but considering its target market, we'd say it does a pretty good job. It's a decent mid-range device with a solid feature set, and performs quite well to boot. Battery life isn't the greatest out of the devices in Verizon Wireless' current lineup, but the unique form factor is sure to make it stand out against the crowd. With any revolutionary design, however, it's going to be a love or hate thing - so be sure to check it out in store prior to purchasing.