Sunday 3 March 2019

Nokia 7610 (2004)

Announced March 2004

The Nokia 7610 was a phone with a rather obvious elephant in the room. Sure, this was a capable Symbian smartphone with a decently-sized 2.1” 176 x 208 pixel display with expandable memory, Bluetooth and a 1 megapixel camera. It had impressive multimedia capabilities, a large library of applications and you could even swap out the covers if you wanted a new look.

But it didn’t really matter how good the phone looked when it came to technical specifications but the 7610’s particular elephant was the keypad. One of the maddest keypads ever to be fitted to a Nokia phone.

Nokia 7610
Sure, Nokia could have arranged the keys in a traditional grid, but that would have been too easy. Clearly influence in part by the batshit insane Nokia 7600 from a few months earlier, the 7610 was all about curves. The asymmetric design of the phone had curves on opposite corners, and this was strongly reinforced by the curvy design of the keyboard.

The keys were all different sizes and laid out in a striking but not particularly obvious way. Presumably designed to be used with a thumb – it was unclear which thumb – the result was an impressive looking mess. Users either loved it or hated it, and it seemed that there was no middle ground. Compared with the preceding and pleasingly chubby Nokia 6600, the 7610 was a bit too radical for its own good.

For years and years, Nokia had a philosophy of not putting all the features they could in any single phone, so although the 7610 was a decently capable smartphone, it didn’t come with 3G support whereas it’s non-smartphone stablemate the 7600 did.

Nokia did address the controversial keypad later in 2004 with the release of the otherwise almost identical Nokia 6670, but somehow they managed to come up with something even uglier than the 7610. Eventually they started to get their act together with the 6680 launched in early 2005 which then morphed into the rather nice Nokia N70 in April 2005. Today a 7610 is a somewhat collectable device, with typical prices for an unlocked one in good condition being about £40 or so.

Image credits: Nokia

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