Review: Nokia N75
The N75 has two screens, one inside and one out. Unfortunately, neither is very bright. In fact, when adjusting the brightness levels for either screen, there is no noticeable improvement in brightness past the 1/3 mark on the slider.
The exterior screen was very difficult to read in direct sunlight. With the glossy finish, it glared badly and interacting with menus through the glare was a chore at best. Using it indoors or in darker environments was much easier, though we wish we could have adjusted the contract and brightness more. When used as the camera viewfinder, the exterior screen shows that it can display colors accurately and it tracked quickly in video camera mode.
The main screen of the N75 is nice and big. It has a 2.4" diameter and displays 24-bit color. That means it looks good, and is large enough to see lots of detail. Web sites were sharp and crisp. The menus popped from the screen. Using the display as the camera view finder was much better than using the exterior display with respect to seeing an accurate picture. Motion flowed smoothly and there was no pixelization that we could see. Using it outside was not so enjoyable. The menus were not easy to see and composing text messages was nearly impossible with the combination of color themes available on the N75 and its poor outdoor legibility.
The interior screen is also extremely prone to smudges. Holding the phone close to your face leaves a nice grimy imprint of your cheek. Fingerprints also easily mar the otherwise beautiful display.
The N75 provided excellent coverage just about everywhere we took it. It has 7 vertical bars to indicate signal strength rather than the typical 5 bar setup. In our time with the N75 it rarely had less than 5 bars of coverage and most often showed the full 7 bars. When set side by side with another AT&T phone, the N75 always had better signal strength. The was a strong signal in my basement (5 bars) and in the Lincoln Tunnel (4 bars). We were able to maintain voice and data calls when driving under the Hudson River. The N75 never dropped below 4 bars anywhere we took it. Signal strength was solid even in a known trouble spot. This phone knows how to latch onto cell towers, that is for sure.
Despite the strong coverage from the N75, call quality was not stellar. Quite often we heard pops, background hiss and static during calls. On top of that, the speaker in the ear piece lacked decent power. Even at full volume, calls were hard to hear in moderately noisy environments, such as city streets. We could not hear callers at all inside crowded bars, and were forced to walk outside.
The speakerphone is another story. The N75 has tiny stereo speakers on either side of the phone near the top. They double as the speakerphone and speakers for music playback. These speakers were insanity-inducing they were so loud. Putting the volume at about 25% was more than enough to hear calls and music even from several rooms away. The N75 is so loud that set to full volume, it was audible outside my house. We're talking rock concert levels. You could totally provide the soundtrack at a fireworks festival and have no trouble hearing the N75 over the noise. There was a strange inconsistency, though. Same as the screen brightness, once you moved the level indicator past about the 1/3 mark, there was no real increase in volume for the ringer. But for the speakerphone or music playback, the volume went up or down accordingly when you adjusted the level. Either way, we did not miss calls, as the ringer was plenty loud. The quality is what you would expect from tiny speakers, i.e., tinny and thin. The vibrate alert was more subtle. It wasn't overbearing and produced a mild vibration strength. We missed several calls with the N75 set to vibrate.
Battery life was so-so for the N75. Regular usage for calling and messaging meant you needed to recharge every 3 days. Turn on the Bluetooth, and subtract half a day. Browsing the internet in 3G coverage areas really seemed to suck the life out of the N75, and drained the battery in 2 days or less with regular use.