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Nokia 2115i Shorty review: Nokia 2115i Shorty

Nokia 2115i Shorty

Stewart Wolpin
5 min read
Nokia 2115i Shorty
If all you want is a phone as inexpensive and nontechnical as possible without the expense of a monthly bill, just so you can make the occasional cell phone call, the Nokia 2115i Shorty from pay-as-you-go provider Virgin Mobile is the phone for you. This phone makes a Cracker Jack prize seem high tech and is so lacking in bells and whistles that it barely makes any noise even when it rings. But we know there are folks who need and want only the minimum, which this $39.99 phone offers. Considering Nokia's usually flamboyant cell phone industrial design, the two-toned gray 2115i Shorty is positively dull-looking. There's little to distinguish it from other basic candy bar handsets, and it's one of the last new models to offer a monochrome display (just 1.25 inches diagonally). The construction feels a tad flimsy as well, but at 4.99 by 1.66 by 0.85 inches and just 3 ounces, the handset is quite compact, making it comfortable to carry in a pants pocket.


Nokia 2115i Shorty

The Good

Solid call quality; compact design; speakerphone; analog roaming; voice dialing; built-in flashlight; swappable covers; IDs unknown songs.

The Bad

Small, monochrome screen; sensitive sweet spot; limited navigation keys; no Web surfing; no spine volume controls; cheap-feeling.

The Bottom Line

A throwback cell phone with few bells and whistles, the Nokia 2115i for Virgin Mobile is designed almost purely for making and receiving occasional calls.

Short and simple: The Nokia 2115i has a basic design.

The mobile offers a relatively pedantic (for Nokia) keypad layout with a slightly confusing navigation array. You get the normal Send and End buttons, as well as two soft keys, but the toggle moves only up and down and not to the side. It didn't hamper menu navigation, but it was quirky. The keypad buttons are composed of four white translucent bars, with three numbers on each bar. Number and especially letter labels are tiny and will be hard to read by anyone with less-than-perfect vision. Backlighting for the screen is a pale powder blue, while the bars brightly light up like a fluorescent photo light board. We didn't like, however, that there are no spine-mounted volume controls. As is normal for Nokia phones, the power button is located on the top of the phone rather than the red End key.

Interestingly, you are told to avoid touching the internal antenna area, a warning that is difficult to obey, since this area is not marked or indicated except in a general illustration indicating the top area of the phone. Since keeping a finger or two at the top of the phone is not only a natural hand position but also almost required to keep the earpiece securely over your ear canal, this was a difficult warning to obey. Fortunately, we did not suffer any of the call-quality consequences mentioned in the manual.

You can buy one of four replaceable covers (blue, cocoa, teak, or red for $14 each) to brighten up an otherwise pale phone. To swap a cover, the instructions say to "gently pull the bottom of the front cover away from the rest of the phone." Gently or roughly, the front cover refused to move. We came closer to losing a fingernail than removing the front cover.

What's surprising about the Nokia 2115i Shorty is that for a phone this low tech, you get a fair number of features. There is a 250-contact phone book, but you are limited to one-word name entries with no spaces. Initial entries allow only the insertion of one undesignated phone number, although you can add specific home/mobile/work numbers in the Edit function. Confusingly, e-mail addresses can be added but only through a completely different menu. You can, however, assign one of eight polyphonic ring tones to individual contacts.

While the Nokia 2115i Shorty skimps on the phone book, it paradoxically includes a variety of functions, such as an alarm clock, a vibrate mode, a currency calculator (odd on a phone that can be used only in the United States), a voice recorder that can record up to 60 seconds of memos, a countdown timer, voice dialing, a speakerphone, a stopwatch, a calendar, and a scheduler. All the additions seem more designed to be used by an active and tech-savvy phone user, not the occasional caller who is likely to be the primary customer for this phone.

Since this is a phone for a prepaid service plan, the call time elapsed stays on the screen after you hang up until you hit Dismiss. Just hitting the up direction on the navigation toggle lets you check your Virgin Mobile account and activate the Top Up refill options for adding minutes. You do get text messaging, but the only Web access is to Virgin Mobile's VirginXtras server for buying extras such as ring tones. While it took about 15 to 20 seconds to connect, ringer downloads took only about 10 seconds and were quite painless to assign once acquired.

One of the more fascinating functions included in the Nokia 2115i Shorty is SongID. Dial *43, then when prompted, simply hold the phone next to a speaker so that it can "hear" a song for 15 seconds. The connection automatically ends when the system has heard enough. For $1 each, Virgin text-messages you back the song title and artist. Virgin correctly identified not only "Love Is the Tender Trap" by Frank Sinatra but also "(Who Discovered) America?" by Ozomatli (although it misspelled the band's name), each within about 10 seconds.

Like its Virgin Mobile compatriot, the Kyocera K10 Royale, the Nokia 2115i Shorty includes a built-in flashlight. However, you must press and hold the star key (*) to activate and turn it off. The Shorty's light is dimmer and more diffused than the Royale's, although it's still quite handy at finding buried objects in purses or keyholes in the dark. Three games--Snake II, Kart Racing, and Space Impact II--are included in the 2115i Shorty, but with only up/down keys and a monochrome screen, they have limited entertainment value. You can personalize the mobile with a variety of wallpaper, and you can download more options if you wish.

We tested the triband (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) Nokia 2115i Shorty--which, like all Virgin Mobile phones, uses Sprint's PCS network--while wandering about Manhattan. Voice quality was generally good with plenty of volume, as long as you keep the finicky earpiece in position; if the earpiece is slightly off your canal's center, you'll barely hear a thing. Because the phone's mic doesn't extend down as close to the mouth as a clamshell phone's, our callers complained of hollow or ambient noise on their end of the call. On our end, voices sounded thick but clear with occasional quavering. The sound quality for the two-way speakerphone also was warbled at best and not very loud, making it fairly useless in anything but a tomblike environment.

Even at its loudest, ringer volume is low to medium, which made it difficult to hear from a pants pocket and, depending on which ringer you pick, nearly impossible from a bag. When in a pocket, the violent vibrate alert let us know a call was coming in without hearing a ring.

Thanks to the limited juice needed by the small, monochrome screen, we got 4.5 hours of talk time compared with the rated 4.6 hours. That's perfectly acceptable, but it's still less that what we're used to from most Nokias; the 9300 smart phone lasted for 8 hours. The promised standby time is 8.8 days, but we got only 6 days in our tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the Nokia 2115i Shorty has a digital SAR rating of 0.75 watts per kilogram.


Nokia 2115i Shorty

Score Breakdown

Design 3Features 6Performance 7