Review of the Nokia 1680


The Nokia 1680 is the newest low-end phone from 7-11 Speakout Wireless. It sells for more than the previously-reviewed Nokia 1208, but in my opinion (as you will soon discover) I donít think it is worthy of this position in the lineup.
 

The Nokia 1680 is available through 7-11.

Last Updated: 16-Jan-2009

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.

RF Performance

Click on this link for a full description of RF Performance, and how to interpret it.

RF Sensitivity: (A+) I had no problem with this aspect of the phone. It seems that Nokia has finally figured out how to squeeze excellent RF sensitivity out of all of their recent models, regardless of its position in the hierarchy. Itís almost got to the point where doing this test on a Nokia phone has become redundant, but thatís the direction we should be headed with cell phones by now.

Over-the-road Performance: (A-) The 1680 is only a 2.5G phone, which means it uses the older TDMA-based GSM network for voice communication. For that reason the handling of network handoffs and other maladies is very important. Nokia phones have generally been improving in this regard over the years, and the 1680 doesnít deviate from this pattern. The 1680 does a fairly decent job of handling this aspect of performance, though certainly no better or worse than the 1208.

Audio Performance

Click on this link for a full description of Audio Performance, and how to interpret it.

Tonal Balance: (D-) Even though RF performance has become a non-issue with phones of late, audio certainly hasnít. No matter how much experience the company has making phones, many with excellent audio performance, Nokia still seems capable of producing ones that sound like they were tested by tone-deaf technicians. The 1680 sounds like a cheap plastic toy that is totally put to shame by the audio quality of the less-expensive 1208. However, the poor tonal balance is only the fault of the native earpiece. The phone actually sounds half-decent through a good-quality earbud or headset. Despite that, its failing mark in this category stands, since many people will use it as-is (without an earbud).

Sound Reproduction: (C-) The overall sound reproduction wasnít quite as big a disappointment as the tonal balance, but it was never-the-less sub-par and once again put to shame by the 1208.

Earpiece Volume: (B+) Well, at least the phone has decent earpiece volume, but given the awful tonal balance youíll probably want to keep the volume turned down anyway to protect your ears from an aural assault. The volume of the 1680 is slightly louder than that of the 1208, but not by much.

Outgoing Audio: (B-) I found the quality of the outgoing audio a little thin, but overall it seems to do as well as most Nokia phones on the market today. I put it up against the N95, because I didnít have any other phones to compare it to during the test, and the sound was a bit less distinct and there was more noticeable background noise from the bustling food court at Square One. However, the 1208 provided outgoing audio almost on-par with the N95, and so once again the 1680 fails to match its nearest competitor in the 7-11 stable.

Speakerphone: (C+) The speakerphone on the 1680 can produce a fair amount of volume, but it sounds just as bad as its native earpiece and it isnít very comfortable to listen to. I probably wouldnít use it for a real phone call as I often do with the N95. The 1208 has a speakerphone almost the equal of the N95, and so again the 1608 looses again.

Support Features

Ringer Volume: (B-) Despite the overall poor quality of the speakerphone, the little speaker in the 1608 was quite capable of generating a reasonable amount of volume. It was on par with the 1208 in this respect.

Keypad Design: (D-) When Nokia builds an awful keyboard, it goes all out. The tiny little pad on this phone is difficult to use, prone to error, and annoying enough to possibly cause you to toss the phone out of your car window. Itís laid out in a traditional way, which is good, but its tactile feel is very poor. I often mis-dialed numbers, which forced me to slow down and watch the screen to make sure I was dialing the number I wanted.

Display: (B-) This is the one-and-only aspect of the 1680 that was better than the 1208. The size, resolution, and brightness of the display are clearly better than the 1208, which had a minimalistic display at best. However, the screen still isnít very big and the improvement over the 1208 doesnít make up for all of the other shortcomings.

Icing on the Cake

Camera: (C-) Just another disappointing 640 x 480 camera meant for nothing more than creating Caller ID photos, or for sending in MMS messages to other phone users. Thereís little I can say about it.

Conclusions

The 1680 is a big disappointment all around, with the exception of its RF performance, which it shares with all of the recent Nokias Iíve tested. Beyond that itís an entry level phone that canít even compete with its supposedly-lesser kin the Nokia 1208. If I had to choose between the 1680 and the 1208, EVEN IF they gave me the 1680 for free, Iíd choose the 1208 every time. With the possible exception of its size and styling, I canít see why 7-11 even bothers to sell this model.

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