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Nokia 9300 Communicator review


This review mainly descibes differences between the 9300 Communicator and the Nokia 9500. If you are not familiar with the 9500 model, please read this review.



Nokia 9300 is the first Communicator that is not larger than a typical mobile phone for a business user. Its dimensions and weight (167 g, 132 x 51 x 21 mm) are almost identical as of Nokia 63xx series phones. And you can really feel the difference! To a person who got used to Nokia 9110, 9210 or even the new 9500, the 9300 will appear extremely small and light. And that's how it really is.

Even though considerably smaller, the 9300 still offers users full QWERTY keyboard. Keys aren't as large as in the 9500 but you can still type using two index fingers or, alternatively, you can also type using thumbs, which is very convenient if you open the PDA screen flat. Yes, it's another improvement: the cover can be opened up to 180 degrees, which is especially useful if you want to use the 9300 on a table or, as I mentioned, if you want to type using your thumbs. The phone keypad in 9300 seems to be better than in 9500; especially the navigation key works much more reliably thanks to its separate four-way ring and a central "nipple".

The inner screen is physically smaller than in Nokia 9500 but it has the very same resolution: 640x200 pixels, which means that what you see on the screen is the same as in 9500, only slightly smaller. And thanks to smaller pixels the image quality seems to be even better. The outer phone screen is exactly the same as in 9500: Series 40-like UI, 128x128 pixels.

From a hardware point of view, there are three important differences between the 9500 and 9300 models. First of all (and this is what I consider the only real disappointment) the 9300 lacks WiFi. Those who need WLAN access have their "choice" limited to bigger and heavier 9500 only. Pity. If the 9300 had WLAN support, it would be a perfect smartphone. But this would probably make the 9500 obsolete, so it wasn't an option for Nokia.

Second difference is no camera in the 9300. Some people may find it an unacceptable omittion but I do not care about the camera too much as I almost never use it (it wouldn't hurt to have one onboard, though). Finally, the 9300 is equipped with a smaller battery - Li-Polymer 970 mAh (the 9500 has 1300 mAh). Using a smaller battery is understandable: any larger accu simply wouldn't fit in such a small device. And it seems the smaller cell in 9300 does a good job and provides almost identical standby time as the 9500 - without WLAN and camera the 9300 most probably consumes less power.

Probably because of being smaller and lighter, the 9300 also feels more robust and solid than the 9500. It simply feels great. Instead of a latch, the cover in 9300 has a small magnet and it seems to be a much better and more secure and durable solution. The 9300 uses a similiar back cover as the 9500, which means one still has to remove it in order to access the memory card slot Nokia calls "hot-swappable". Wake up, designers, and make a small hole in the cover. It's not a rocket science while it would make swapping memory cards easy and quick. The 9300's internal navigation key works similiarily to the 9500's button but it feels a little bit more like a small joystick.

There aro no other hardware changes compared to 9500. The 9300 uses the same TI OMAP 1510 CPU clocked at 150 MHz and is equipped with 64 MB of RAM (operating memory) and ~80 MB free internal storage space. Disk memory can be expanded using Multimedia Cards, up to 2 gigabytes. 9300 generates high quality stereo audio via PopPort-compatible headphones/headset and has a mono loudspeaker of very good quality. Connectivity options include Bluetooth (with one new profile: SIM Access), Infrared, cable (USB 2.0), GPRS and EDGE (up to 236 kbps) - just like the 9500.

Changes are hardly visible on the software side, too. If you already know the 9500 Communicator then you may consider yourself a 9300 expert, too. The operating system and all system applications are simply identical, with just two exceptions: lack of camera application on the Phone side and no WLAN setting in Control panel. All the rest is simply the same. The 9300 is also 100% compatible with 9500's 3rd party software. That's why I won't be going into any details of the Nokia 9300 software part - it's already fully covered in the 9500 review. So, if you are not familiar with the Nokia 9500 and you want to learn about the system software of the 9300 and 9500, please read our Nokia 9500 Communicator review containing a detailed descripion of the OS and all system applications, including over a hundred of screenshots.

The unit I had for review was equipped with the same firmware version as current Nokia 9500 shipments. However, when the 9300 becomes officially available, it will most probably have a newer firmware revision - hopefully containing important improvements, optimizations and bug fixes based on the feedback from users of Nokia 9500 (remember, it's the same device from a software point of view).

Summary

Nokia 9300 is simply wonderfully small and light. With a size and weigth of a typical business-range mobile phone like e.g. the 6310, it provides the very same functionality as considerably larger and heavier 9500, it still offers full QWERTY keyboard and 640x200 pixels widescreen. It's surely the most 'sexy' Communicator ever made. I'd also call it the best one if not its one and only but quite serious disadvantage when compared to the 9500: lack of WIFI. But at least we have a choice: those who really need WLAN access can get the 9500 while those for whom WIFI is not top priority will *surely* be happy with the 9300 as it provides all other functions in a much smaller and lighter package. The 9300 is also the first Communicator that has a chance to become a mass-market product.

PROs:

  • Very light and small
  • full QWERTY keyboard
  • GPRS and EDGE - up to 236 kbps
  • USB 2.0
  • stereo sound
  • fully compatible with Nokia 9500
  • good battery life
  • all functions of the Nokia 9500 but WiFi/camera

CON's:

  • No WIFI support
  • no camera



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