alan little’s weblog

nokia 3650 first impressions

7th August 2003 permanent link

I just got a Nokia 3650 phone and I’m delighted with it. I’ve been thinking about getting one for a while; but even a month ago they were selling for 160 euros with a two year contract. Suddenly my current mobile phone provider is offering them for 49 euros with contract. Thanks very much, I’ll take one.

I’m not quite as excited about it as Russell Beattie , though:

This is it. This is THE mobile phone. This is the one that’s going to usher in the mobile revolution that’s been building for years.

This is in no sense an attempt at a serious review, just some things that have struck me in the first couple of days with my new toy.

it’s not only a nice phone, but a full-strength organiser running (a distant descendant of) the same OS as my late beloved Psion Series 3. The only thing it lacks is a decent input device - but it can sync to a PC, and I guess it can probably be made to work with BlueTooth keyboards too although I haven’t looked into that yet. The PDA is dead.

Having proper organiser functions is no use on a device without a keyboard unless you can synch it properly with a master database on a PC. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve re-keyed my address book into various incompatible devices over the years, and I hope the 3650 will save me from ever having to do it again. Here the current state of play with Macs and iSync seems to be about three quarters of the way to working properly. Contacts are supposed to synch properly via iSync and Bluetooth; synching calendar entries and to-dos is not supported yet. Apparently there’s a one-line hack to an iSync config file that sort of works for most people - I will of course be trying it as soon as I get round to buying a BlueTooth thingie for my iBook.

I’m not findng the user interface particularly intuitive. The things you want to do are generally there, but hidden deep in modal menus. Given the very limited screen real estate and input possibilities it’s clear that doing any kind of software for this thing would be a hard UI challenge.

The built-in camera for me is an irrelevant gimmick. It played no part in my decision to get the phone and I’d be just as happy without it. Nevertheless I found it interesting that the French photography magazine Chasseur d’Images - one of the most serious and respected photography magazines in the world - ran a review of camera phones in their March-April issue. The Nokia 7650 placed second to the Sony Ericsson P800; the 3650 presumably wasn’t out in time for the review, although it did make it onto the cover.

The shape isn’t quite right. It’s not as bulky and inconvenient as the Nokia 7650 or the P800 - which, whatever the boys at Mobitopia may say, are just too big and clumsy for telephones. Compared to my previous phone, a primitive and not particularly small Nokia 5110, the 3650 looks significantly bigger in the shop but actually isn’t. It’s about the same length and slightly lighter, but it’s broader and flatter and doesn’t sit as comfortably in my hand. I could see it being really uncomfortable for people with small hands.

Me having this phone is going to be a financial disaster for the phone company. They’ve just given me this expensive state of the art phone at a ridiculously low price in the hope that I’m going to pay them lots of money to send photos to people at exorbitant rates, and I’m not going to. It’s bad news for Sony Ericsson too - their flagship P800 is still over 400 euros even with a contract, and at that price with the competing Nokias at 50 euros, bye bye Sony Ericsson. No wonder they just closed their Munich office.

Oh, and can anyone recommend a decent version of Tetris?

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