Nokia 3650 (T-Mobile) review: Nokia 3650 (T-Mobile)

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Built-in camera/video recorder; works on GPRS networks; voice-activated dialing; IR port; Bluetooth; world phone; large, color display; includes 16MB MultiMediaCard.

The Bad No side buttons to adjust volume; circular keypad can be a turnoff.

The Bottom Line The 3650 is a cutting-edge mobile that sports all the must-have features for a less than astronomical price.

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Editors' note:
If your model can't record sound while shooting video, you can download a patch from &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=nokiausa&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Enokiausa%2Ecom%2Fphones%2Fsoftware%2F3650%2F">Nokia's Web site, along with other new software features such as a SyncML client and PC Suite.

It's been a little while since Nokia delivered a groundbreaking mobile to the U.S. market. The company finally has another one with the 3650, which features a built-in camera that captures not only low-resolution still shots but also video clips. Additionally, it's equipped with Bluetooth, a built-in speakerphone, and an expansion slot for adding memory cards. And while the 3650 certainly isn't inexpensive, its sub-$400 price tag is competitive for a leading-edge phone. That said, it faces stiff competition from other multifaceted, high-end models such as Sony Ericsson's P800, which sports many of the same features in an arguably sleeker package. At first glance, with its circular keypad and large, 4,096-color, 10-line display, the 3650 looks more like a portable handheld TV than a phone. Its unique design comes at a price: girth. Measuring 5.1 by 2.2 by 1.0 inches thick and weighing 4.59 ounces, the 3650 is too big for pockets. But while it's slightly larger than Sony Ericsson's P800, the 3650 weighs an ounce less.



Ring around the keypad: It's a whole new dialing game with the numbers placed in a circle.


Big on size and features: The unique design is too bulky for most pockets.
The real showstopper is the phone's ability to take pictures and capture short videos. On the back of the 3650 is a VGA 3.5mm lens. There's no built-in flash, as there is with Sanyo's SCP-5300, but we didn't miss it. Like many of today's camera phones, the 3650 has a screen that does double duty as the viewfinder. To take pictures, you launch the camera application and press the four-way rocker key, which serves as a shutter-release button. You can also snap shots using the phone's internal menus. Storage isn't an issue with the 3650; you can keep images on the phone's 3.4MB of onboard memory or the included 16MB MultiMediaCard stored underneath the battery. Naturally, you can add a higher-capacity card.

On the side of the phone, you'll find an IR port, and on the top--in classic Nokia fashion--lives the on/off button. When Bluetooth is activated, a black dot appears at the top of the display. The bottom of the 3650 has jacks for a power plug and a headset. Unfortunately, there are no volume-control buttons on the side, which means you'll need to remove the phone from your ear in the middle of a conversation to adjust the sound level or activate the speakerphone function.

Aside from the 3650's large display, which is on a par with that of the Sony Ericsson T68i and P800 but not as crisp as the Samsung SPH-A500's, the circular, backlit keypad is a real eye-catcher. Unlike any other keypad we've seen on a phone to date, this one has the numbers placed in a spherical pattern, like an old-style dialer. It takes a little getting used to, but we adapted fairly quickly. All the other buttons are fairly standard, though a blue elliptical graphic adorns the dedicated menu button.

Extra space: Upgrade the phone's memory by adding higher-capacity MultiMediaCards.

The 3650 has all the standard features, including caller ID, conference calling, voicemail, text messaging, an alarm, a phone book (you can store names and numbers on the SIM and MultiMediaCards), a calendar, a calculator, a to-do list, a currency converter, and wireless Web access for WAP and XHTML sites. You also get voice-activated dialing for up to 25 numbers, as well as a built-in speakerphone and voice recorder.

Running the Symbian 6.1 OS and supporting J2ME applications, this phone is easy to customize and can easily be used for business. You can download apps, games, screensavers, and polyphonic ring tones. You can reorder the phone's menu system and select between a list-type and a PDA-like graphical user interface. Additionally, this mobile does SMS and MMS, as well as SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4 e-mail. You can sync with your desktop PIMs via IR or Bluetooth, but you'll need to download the free software from the Nokia site.



Fading fast: The image quality isn't quite as vibrant as that of other camera phone combos.


Bull's-eye: The camera/video recorder is on the back of the phone.
As noted, one of the 3650's major selling points is the built-in VGA (640x480 resolution) digital camera and video recorder. You can take pictures on the highest resolution of 176x208 pixels in three different modes: up to 300 images in Portrait, 18 pics with Night, or 15 shots in Standard. In video mode, you can record up to 95K of footage at 15 frames per second. The video isn't exactly smooth, and you get only 30 seconds of playback, but it's a nice novelty. While you can use the included RealOne player format to add music clips, you can't record sound when shooting videos. It's easy to choose between storing pictures and videos on the phone's internal memory or on the external MultiMediaCard. As with many of these devices, the image quality is mediocre at best and not suitable for printing.

Once you capture pictures, there are a few things you can do with them. As with the Sanyo SCP-5300, the Nokia 3650 lets you associate the image with a name in the phone book, save it as wallpaper, e-mail it to friends, and send it to other MMS-ready phones that work on the same network. Nokia includes a trial version of FotoFit, with which you can place faces from your stored images on famous people. For example, you can put a picture of your friend on Abe Lincoln's body. You can also send and receive data via Bluetooth and IR. In our tests, we used IR to send images to a laptop and swapped other pictures with a Sony CLIE PEG-NZ90 and a Palm Tungsten W over a Bluetooth connection.

Powerful performer: For a color mobile, the Nokia has impressive battery life.

We tested the tri-mode (GSM 900/1800/1900) world phone using T-Mobile service in San Francisco and found call quality to be good overall. Callers said we sounded clear, and we typically heard them just fine. But occasionally, we had trouble locating the Nokia's sweet spot and had to reposition it to hear better. The speakerphone quality was equivalent to that found on the Nokia 7210--that is, pretty decent.

The 3650 will work on the GPRS network and is ready for high-speed wireless-data access. In our tests, we were able to connect just fine, and while not stellar, browsing time was noticeably faster than that of 2G phones.

As for battery life, we managed to meet the 4 hours of talk time but fell 24 hours short of the 200-hour rating. Still, that's impressive for a phone with a color screen. It's worth noting that the battery will drain more quickly if you use the camera or video recorder features a lot.

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Nokia 3650 (T-Mobile)

Part Number: 3650BLUTMB Released: Feb. 26, 2003
Low Price: $114.49 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb. 26, 2003
  • Talk Time 240 min
  • Technology GSM
  • Service Provider not specified
  • Weight 4.6 oz