capsule review

Nokia 9300

At a Glance
  • Nokia 9300 PDA Phone (GSM, Bluetooth, 80MB, MMC)

Nokia 930
Photograph: Chris Manners

Nokia's 9300 suggests a microlaptop with a cell phone attached to the cover. This hybrid PDA/cell phone offers many of the features you'll need on the go, including office applications, a phone, e-mail and Internet access, and long battery life. Though it works well as a messaging device, the 9300 isn't ideal to use as a phone because of its solid brick size.

When closed, the 9300 is a vertically oriented phone, with a small monochrome screen and a dial pad containing large, slippery keys. Positioning the phone horizontally and opening it like a laptop will reveal the wide color screen and QWERTY keyboard inside. The phone has a dedicated power button, so you can power off the phone while continuing to use the PDA functions--a feature that could be useful aboard a plane, for example.

With the phone keypad and screen on the outside, making calls on the 9300 is easy, though the device can be uncomfortable to hold next to your ear. Phone conversations sounded okay, but the volume was somewhat low. Talk-time battery life was excellent. This model lasted 10 hours in our lab tests, and then--as is our custom on this test--we stopped counting.

Typing--or more accurately, thumbing--on the keyboard isn't bad, though the device is simply too small to use like a standard notebook. It works better with the screen titled farther back so that it's open almost 180 degrees. The jog dial on the lower right corner of the keyboard is great for scrolling through documents and navigating menus. You also get useful shortcut keys (such as Documents, Calendar, and Web) at the top of the keyboard. The shortcomings: The keys are slippery, and there aren't any spaces between them. This wasn't a huge issue for us, but it could frustrate some users--especially those who don't have small fingers.

The 9300 runs the Symbian operating system, which supplies an expanding list of applications. On top of e-mail, Web access, and a PIM, this device comes preloaded with basic office tools such as a word processor, a spreadsheet application, and a presentation tool. The test unit I looked at had RealPlayer installed as well. Apps opened a bit sluggishly, often taking 2 to 3 seconds, but once opened they were easy to use.

Though you can view photos on this handheld, it lacks a camera. If you don't mind that omission, this PDA phone may work for you. Plus, the $299 price (as of April 7, 2006, with a two-year Cingular contract) isn't bad.

Grace Aquino

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At a Glance
  • Designed like a tiny laptop, the 9300 offers a decent keyboard and a mix of useful apps for working on the road.


    • Includes a mix of Office apps
    • Impressive talk-time battery life


    • Lacks a camera
    • Bulky device is uncomfortable to hold
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