It's not often that you look at a Nokia phone and think "hey--that's cute!" But the Nokia Twist is not like most Nokia phones. It features an unusual square shape and swiveling design that straddles the line between being cool and being so cutesy as to be impractical.
When closed, the Nokia Twist is a perfect square, with sides that each measure 2.7 inches long. Its face is dominated by its 2.4-inch screen, below which you see one button and one big, hollow circle. That's right--the circle goes all the way through the phone. It sits at the bottom right corner below the display, and is the pivot point, where the phone swings open. Nokia calls it the "Contact Circle," because it glows when you receive a call from one of your contacts.
The Twist's swiveling mechanism is smooth, and the phone is easy to open with one hand. When open, you'll see the full QWERTY keyboard, which is a bit flat, but still spacious and very usable. Across the top of the keyboard are the Send and End call buttons, plus numerous shortcuts to the Twist's features. You get buttons for launching the messaging app, the music player, the Web browser, the voice recognition features, the volume controls, and the camera. These shortcuts are especially helpful because the menu system on this Verizon Wireless phone can be confusing.
Call quality was decent in my test calls. My callers sounded clear enough, and said the same about me, but the volume never seemed quite loud enough, even when I turned it up all the way.
Despite its somewhat awkward square shape, the Twist was quite comfortable to hold during calls. (You have to open it to dial and place a call.)
Browsing the Web
The Twist support's Verizon's high-speed EvDO network, but not Wi-Fi wireless hotspots. That means you'll have to rely on the availability of a 3G cellular network for speedy browsing. I tested the Twist in area with 3G coverage, and still found page loads to be a bit slow.
The included HTML browser also could stand some improvement. It didn’t always display pages correctly, and sometimes cut off text on the pages I was viewing. The Twist's 2.4-inch screen feels small when you're trying to view a Web page, and it's not touch-sensitive. Navigating between pages is a challenge, because you have to open a menu to access the "forward" and "back" buttons; the Twist has two touch-sensitive navigation keys that sit right below the display, so it's a shame these keys can't be used for this purpose instead.
The Twist is not a full-fledged smartphone with a true mobile operating system. You do get a handful of apps from Verizon Wireless, though, plus the ability to add a few more from Verizon's catalog of available downloads. Still, you won’t find much (if any) true business apps available for the Twist; the apps in the "Business Tools/Information" category are limited to Verizon's Visual Voice Mail, Backup Assistant, City ID, and Verizon's VZ Navigator. VZ Navigator, which does a good job of delivering turn-by-turn directions to your phone, comes pre-loaded on the Twist, too.
Nokia and Verizon tout the Twist as a messaging phone, so I had high hopes for its e-mail and texting features. But, I was mostly disappointed. Because the Twist doesn't run the Symbian OS like most Nokia smartphones, you don't get access to its e-mail client. Instead, you're left with three Verizon options: Mobile Web Mail, Mobile E-Mail, and Corporate E-Mail.
Mobile Web Mail is free, but is limited to Windows Live, AOL Mail, Yahoo Mail, or Verizon.net accounts. Mobile E-Mail lets you connect your POP3 or IMAP accounts, but costs $5 per month. The Corporate E-Mail with RemoSync lets you access e-mail, contacts, and calendars from Microsoft Exchange servers. It costs $10 per month.
The texting application fares better, as the Twist supports text, picture, and video messages, and has a nice threaded view for reading conversations. You also get Verizon's Mobile IM app, which supports AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger accounts.
The 3.0 megapixel camera captures still photos and video clips. The camera has some nice features, including a flash, a self-portrait mirror (on the back of the top half of the phone), a self-timer, and an auto-focus. But none of my photos looked crisp; at the best, they were slightly soft and at the worst, downright blurry.
Music and More
The Nokia Twist manages to pack in some impressive multimedia features, thanks to Verizon's V Cast services. First, you get access to the V Cast Music with Rhapsody service. This allows you to access Verizon's music store, where you can download individual tunes for $1.99 each. You also can access the Rhapsody service from your PC; for $14.99 a month, you get access to an almost unlimited music library.
The Twist's headphone jack is a 2.5mm jack, so you can't use it with most standard headphones. You'll need to purchase an adapter or a compatible headset, as the phone does not come packaged with its own headset.
You also get access to V Cast Video, which offers a selection of pre-packaged video clips and full episodes of certain TV shows. Browsing through the library, I found several episodes of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Big Brother, 60 Minutes, and more.
Price and Availability
The Nokia Twist is available for $99.99 from Verizon Wireless when you sign a two-year service contract. It's a unique phone with some pretty cool multimedia features. Unfortunately, a lot of its features -- like e-mail apps and the music service -- cost extra. If only they were included in the price, I'd feel a lot more comfortable recommending this phone.