Mini-Review of the Nokia 3220


The Nokia 3220 is another in a dizzying array of similar-looking and similarly-endowed Nokia GSM phones. In fact, it seemed to belong to the same general family as the Nokia 3205 CDMA phone, which I tested at the same time. Comparisons to the recently-tested Nokia 6230b are unavoidable, as those two phones seemed to share a few similarities beyond the usual Nokia menu system.

Last Updated: 24-Nov-2004

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

General

Like the 3205, the 3220 uses Siamese-twin keys that do one thing when you press them at the top and another thing when you press them at the bottom. However, the 3220 avoids getting really bad marks for the keyboard design by at least shaping keys so that you can discern one half from other, and by arranging the keys in a more traditional layout. Just the same, it was hardly the sort of keyboard I give accolades to, but it was light years better than the one on the 3205.

The phone also includes a miniature speaker that allowed it to be used in speakerphone mode. When compared directly with the 3205 the 3220 sounds more natural, but produces far less volume. In extremely quiet environments the lower output wasnít an issue, and it was a much better implementation than the 3205. However, when the background din got louder, the 3205 was the hands-down winner simply because you hear it. I can only compare the speakerphone to the one on the 6230b from memory, but overall Iíd say the 3220 has similar audio quality, but with slightly less maximum volume.

RF Performance and Audio Quality

Because this is a mini-review, my primary interest is the RF performance and audio quality of the phone. RF was excellent at 850 MHz, as it could penetrate just as far into the lower level of Sears (at Square One) as could the 6230b, which has proven to be an excellent performer. 1900 MHz was another matter.

At a spot near the back corner of the lower level of Sears I checked with my old Nokia 7190 to make sure I had a Fido signal. It was weak, but I could actually complete a call using the 7190. When I had the 3220 do a search for available networks it came back with just Rogers. I tried this numerous times, and I was finally forced to move over to the escalators to pick up a strong enough Fido signal. After locking the phone onto Fido I walked it back to the same place where the 7190 had been able to complete a call, but I lost service even before I got there.

When it comes to RF performance, a phone operating on Rogers doesnít need stellar 1900 MHz reception, as the Rogers network will hand you off to 850 MHz once the signal drops below a certain threshold. However, people planning to use the 3220 on a 1900-only network (such as Fido, or when roaming in some parts of the United States) will find the performance of the phone a huge disappointment.

Iíve tested quite a few phones lately that exhibit good-to-excellent 850 MHz performance (when compared to other phones that support this band), but that do poorly at 1900 MHz against phones that do not support 850 MHz. I find this rather odd since most of the 1900 phones tested (which exhibit stellar performance) also support 900 MHz for European use. A bit of tweaking to a 900 MHz receiver to support 850 shouldnít impact on 1900 MHz performance.

Incoming sound quality is very good, with excellent tonal balance and just a hint of hiss. Maximum earpiece volume is a bit low, but not so much so that the phone would be useless in most conditions. Outgoing audio was tested at a noisy location in Square One, and the results were a bit disappointing. Overall the outgoing audio was a bit muddy-sounding, and the microphone picked up way too much background noise.

The no-contract price for the 3220 at Rogers is $270, which seems a bit steep. If you donít mind signing a 3-year contract however, you can you can get this phone for just $50, which isnít that bad. Until Rogers starts to sell the 6230b (assuming they even do), I canít say for sure if this is relatively cheap or not. If the 6230b comes out at a price that is close to the 3220, Iíd go with the 6230b any day. The 3220 seems like a nice enough phone, but it didnít leave me with the same WOW feeling that I got from the 6230b.

I guess you could say that Iím a bit ambivalent about the 3220. While itís clearly one of the good-sounding Nokias (compared to such poor phones as the 7210 and 6200) I canít quite get excited about it the way I did with the 6230b. At $50 for the 3-year contract price however, itís hard to go wrong with this model, and I canít imagine anyone who buys one being unhappy with their purchase. For me personally, this model just doesnít seem to show up on my radar.

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