Nokia N70 review

I finally splashed out and bought the Nokia N70 last week and I have been using it since.

I have to say my feelings about it are mixed. I was upgrading from a Nokia 6230 which was a pretty basic handset but it had the advantage of being tidy in size. The N70 is no brick but you wouldn’t call it tidy either.

The biggest issues I have with the phone are:

  • It is sloooow to do anything – the menu system is dreadfully slow (3 full seconds from pressing the Message button to the New Message option coming on-screen)
  • Also, the number of clicks it takes to do anything has increased enormously (combining these two issues means it is often very frustrating to work with)
  • The reception is very poor on the phone and it drops far more calls in marginal signal than the 6230 did. I never lost calls due to low signal on the 6230 but already I know two places where this phone won’t hold a call (one is the Jack Lynch tunnel).
  • It requires re-starts. From time to time I will try to make a call. I will be told “There is no network available”. I re-start the phone and suddenly the network is available once more.
  • The start-up time is inordinate – 31 seconds until you are presented with the Insert Pin dialog and another 10 seconds before it is ready to make a call.

In its favour
Things I like about the phone:

  • The battery life is quite good – (it will almost go two days between charges)
  • It looks cool and
  • The camera is quite good (2 megapixel)

Here’s a pic of my son Tomás taken with the N70
Tomás on Nokia N70

If you are more interested in the camera side than the phone side, I can recommend the N70 but if you want to use it more as a phone, get something else.

26 thoughts on “Nokia N70 review”

  1. Ouch,
    Since all the kids are now sporting pay as you go Moto Razrs I was going to ditch mine and snag something else. As well as the fact that they’re now as common as muck the blasted thing has a nasty habit of crashing and rebooting just as you’re finishing off a text message. Much more so when I’m in the US, but I’ve read there might be an issue with the GSM module in the current units.

    I was considering buying a sim free N93 when that became generally available but if you’re seeing such crummy performance on Series 60 V2 device like the N70 I’m wondering if that would be like buying a 900 euro toaster instead of a smartphone.

  2. Simple. Buy a Treo 650. Works perfect. Can do everything *except* WiFi, but then, neither can the N70.

    I am hoping Palm will get some balls and release a WiFi enabled (built-in) Treo.


  3. Personally I think that as handsets go the Treo is an ugly one and what with the carriers in the US dictating the feature set of what they are willing to sell to customers to the device I wouldn’t count on a WiFi enabled Treo anytime soon.

    These are the folks who cripple Bluetooth in handsets should they think someone might transfer a song to their phone from a computer, not buy it over the air from their service.

  4. If you wish, I will swap you my Nokia N70 for yours next week to see if you still have the same issues with the phone. I don’t experience the lag on start-up, the delay on “new message” or the need for restarts. If the swap solves the issues, then we know you’ve a weak phone.

  5. what with the carriers in the US dictating the feature set of what they are willing to sell to customers to the device I wouldn’t count on a WiFi enabled Treo anytime soon

    The US carriers dictate whats enabled/disabled when they are sold through their retailers.

    I bought an unlocked, fully operational Treo, nothing was crippled.

    Regarding WiFi, if they did not release a Windows powered Treo, I would be agreeing with you.

    I feel that Palm didn’t want to piss off the US carriers with a WiFi enabled model.

    With the announcement of a Windows powered Treo, I feel they might have the backing (from a non-carrier business) to actually make this come about.

    Of course, that is just my opinion. I hope I am right though. 😉

    These are the folks who cripple Bluetooth in handsets should they think someone might transfer a song to their phone from a computer, not buy it over the air from their service.

    I presume you’re talking about the carriers here? If so, yes I agree carriers are nasty and evil.

    All in all, I am more than happy with the Treo. It might not be for everybody, but it has saved me from staying in work at a weekend, on more than one occasion!

    Just my 2 cent.

  6. I got an N70 to try out for a week a while back and noticed much the same things. Good on features, but fell down on performance. Main thing was it was just so bloody slow at everything. Trying out a Treo 650 at the moment. It’s certainly zippier, but a bit on the bulky side. Still not sure about the keyboard either, bit on the small side.

  7. Hmmmmmm sounds familer, I have the Nokia N91 myself and in some ways the phones are the same . No network, freezes up sometimes, Nseries still need some work.
    I understand that Nokia are going to release a Firmware update sometime this month to which i will defo grab.

  8. I have a 6680 which is pretty much the same thing as the N70 (N70 has more ram and a better camera) so..

    With regard to the delay on opening messages, I’m betting “messages” is assigned to the left soft key? If so, the delay is there so that when you want to keylock the phone(left softkey followed by *), it doesn’t always open the message application when you do so. If you assign the right softkey the messaging app, it will open straight away. You can assign something that you don’t use quite as much(or one you’re willing to accept the lag with) to the left key.

    With regard to so many key presses to do anything; I’ve found that there really are only a few tasks I do on a very regular basis and I have them all assigned to the standby screen. you can assign 5 actions or applications to the standby screen. Add the 2 softkeys to make 7 which is usually enough.

    Then, you can arrange the applications in the menu to suit you. It really speeds up your use of the phone if you take time to arrange your apps and folders in the best way for you. Russell Beattie wrote a nice piece on arranging apps on S60 phones which I’d say you’ll find interesting:

  9. Sorry for commenting 3 times in a row.. I should really think before I click submit..

    just on the loss of coverage issue, perhaps there is choppy 3G coverage around Cork so if you change the settings on the phone to only use the 2.5G network, the phone won’t drop the calls when switching from network to network. You could give it a try and see if it makes any difference. You can change it in Tools>Settings>Network>Network Mode, change it from dual to single mode.

    Finally.. regarding the startup time; If you consider just how powerful the phone is (it is essentially a handheld computer) you could forgive the startup time. How long does it take for a mac or a pc to startup?

  10. Conall – no problem at all. Thanks for all the info. Russell’s article looks like it may be useful.

    I have moved some of the options around and it certainly helps me get around the phone more quickly.

    Btw, my Mac starts up faster than the phone!

    Peter would you ping me when the update comes out in case I miss it? Thanks.

  11. its nice phone
    2MP Camera more Ram FM Radio
    i have one.
    but i think N80 is better = 3MP Camera WiFi USB mass storage

  12. Anybody aware a solution to create a Dial-Up connection directly from the N70, without using a PC? I need this to access some POP3 email accounts, using the pop3-client on the phone.
    The only option visible on my phone is Packet Switched Data, no Dial-Up connection…
    Thanks in advance.
    Help me please.

  13. Ok, Ok, my turn for asking!

    The N70 handbook says you can activate active standby and post shortcuts across the normal “desktop”.

    I follow the instructions Tools > Settings > Phone > Standbymode > Active standby,and lo and behold, I don’t have a setting for Active standby!

    Any ideas?


  14. I have all the same issues as you Tom.

    The latest firmware supposedly fixes a raft of problems (see

    I tried getting it updated to that v5.x from the current v2.x but it came back from Choice Comms on the quays with exactly the same version as it went in. The guy said that the system would only let him have v2.x. If you or nayone manages to get upgraded, let me know and I’ll go in too. What does *#0000# say on your phone?

  15. Norm – I may be wrong here but when you go Tools > Settings > Phone > Standbymode > Active standby, you then have to select Active Standby and set it to on. If this is what you were trying and it wasn’t available to you, apologies and I’m not sre how to fix that! Except possibly to try upgrading the firmware as suggested by Conor.

    Conor – the rev on my phone is v2.0539.1.2. Is it not possible to download and install the firmware? I know I used to do that with my old Siemens phone.

  16. Oh and i it just me or is the phone really bad at keeping the time?

    I have to keep re-setting the clock on the phone as it jumps forward a minute or two a week (which might not sound like a lot but it adds up very quickly.

  17. v2.0539.1.2 is the same as my own. Unfortunately Nokia only introduced over-the-air upgrades with the not-yet-released S60 Third Edition phones like the N71 etc.

    At the moment you have to go to a Nokia Service Centre (Choice Communications in town for Cork people) and get them to do it and they keep your phone for 3 hours and they zap all the settings (and they return it with the same firmware!).

    I annoyed them so much they told me I needed to go to a “Level 3 Service Centre” if I wanted an MCU upgrade. I can only find one of them in Ireland via Google somewhere in the west. I despair!

  18. Tis probably the best phone I have owned……Powermp3 makes this phone ideal for mp3 playback. 2gig mem card makes it ideal for storing music and photo’s. With powermp3 playlists are a cinch (OTG) and equalizer and pre-amp make it seriously loud….couple that with a 3.5mm headphone jack for the best sound with your other expensive high quality headphones.

    My N70 is through 3 network Australia and I must admit I was very worried about how much they would have changed the O.S. but was relieved when the speed and buggy issues related to carrier firmware didnt eventuate. I have found that by changing the quick keys the phone responds better and by managing the menu I get better response in the apps than when i first started using it.

    The third-party Apps for this phone have grown substantially since it’s release and all I can say is that it makes for a better phone. Opera will make browsing superior than the standard one and email support for me via my carrier has been fast and well supported. Just about any attachment my friends send me opens and can be viewed onscreen. Makes for a surprising change when people send me animated funnies and i can watch them….I have recieved a few powerpoint funnies which viewed extremely well.

    All in all I think this phone will easily please the technophobes and business people alike. After reading many reviews and post’s on this phone I would have to say that most peoples gripes are that it isnt a PDA as such…..IMHO I dont think it was meant to be……Phones as we know it are getting closer to this mark and I wonder how long it will be before we dont really have phones and we adopt smaller lighter versions of actual PDA’s with phone capability built right in…. need I say “power pocket pc’s”

  19. Active standby

    Hi Guys. I bought a nokia N70 last week. Funny enough I had it switched on and playing with it while it was charging without the sim card. During this time I was able to enable disable active standby. Unfortunatly as soon as I put my sim in this feature went missing. I phone 3 support and they said it has been dissabled by the service provider. My problem is they are refusing to let me have that feture and how in the world did they manager to dissable it as soon as I had the sim in the phone.

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