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As Nokia pares down its CDMA offerings, finding one of the company's cell phones in either Sprint's or Verizon Wireless' lineup is becoming increasingly rare. Yet the Finns haven't blown out of the CDMA space completely, as Verizon customers with an itch for Nokia design can pick up the Nokia 2366i. Though neither new nor high-end, the 2366i remains a perfectly decent cell phone by offering a decent feature set and satisfactory call quality in a basic, compact design. The display was a tad dim, and the phone tended to be a little sluggish, but if you're looking for a user-friendly handset for making calls you could do worse than the 2366i. It's also cheap at just $9.99 with service.
Though the Nokia 2366i is a flip phone, it still bears the hallmarks of the functional, entry-level designs that Nokia is so skilled at producing. Its smooth lines don't call attention to themselves, and at 3.2 by 1.69 by 0.94 inches and 3.7 ounces, its minimalist size is unobtrusive. A stubby antenna adds a bit more girth but we're used to that from a CDMA phone. Though the hinge is sturdy and the flap closes with authority, the phone does have a light-plastic feel. That shouldn't be a problem for most people, but extreme sports enthusiasts should stay away.
Front and center is the postage stamp (96x65 pixels) external display. It's monochrome with a blue background, but that's perfectly fitting for a phone without a camera. It shows the date, the time, the battery life, the signal strength, and the caller ID (where available) but you can't change the backlighting time or any other options on the external display. Surrounding the display is a patterned section on the front flap and a thin, silver border, which help to break up the plain black color scheme. A covered headset jack sits on top of the phone, and a thin volume rocker sits on the left spine. The charger port is in the bottom end.
Inside the 2366i, the 1.75-inch (128x160 pixels) main display is serviceable but not very fancy. With support for 65,536 colors, the resolution is pretty dim, and it doesn't render graphics or bright hues well. That's about what you can expect from such a basic phone, but it may be disappointing or even hard to see for some users. You can change the backlight time on the internal display, but no other options are customizable. The menu system is simple and easy to master, and we like that it doesn't follow Verizon's standard interface.
The navigation array takes the shape of a square and consists of a four-way toggle, a central OK button, and two soft keys. The toggle doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions, but we would have liked to see a dedicated Back key. Though the OK button is raised, all other controls are flat with the surface of the phone. The keypad buttons are also flush, but we like that they are quite large for the phone's size and aren't slick in the least. They also benefit from a bright backlight, though the numbers on the keys may be too small for some users to see.
The 2366i has a small, 250-contact phone book. That's not nearly enough for the busy exec, but it should be fine for anyone who uses a cell phone only occasionally. Each entry holds five phone numbers, e-mail addresses, a street address, and notes. You can save contacts to groups or pair them with 1 of 16 polyphonic ringtones.
Other features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a to-do list, a calculator, a timer, and a stopwatch. Text messaging is also on board, but the 2366i does not support multimedia messaging nor does it have a wireless Web browser. On the other hand, it does have some offerings we weren't expecting, including a unit converter, a world clock, a voice recorder and Bluetooth 2.0. On the whole it's a nice selection of offerings.
You can personalize the 2366i with a variety of wallpapers, screensavers, color themes, and alert sounds. Be advised you'll have to be content with the choices that come on the phone because there's no Web browser. But in a very un-Verizon way, you get two full-length games (not demos): Golf Tour and Solitaire.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) 2366i in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless' service. Call quality was thoroughly decent with admirable voice quality and volume. Callers reported about the same conditions, though they could tell we were using a cell phone. It was more difficult to hear callers when we were in a noisy environment, but it wasn't a huge problem.
Speakerphone quality wasn't spectacular--voices sounded a bit hollow--but it was fine for this caliber of a phone. We could understand, however, why the speakerphone works only when the phone is closed. It's not a big deal but it just doesn't make sense.
We couldn't help notice that the menus were rather sluggish. More often than not, it took a few seconds to transition between menu pages or to open an application. It was an unexpected delay on such a basic phone, and it could get annoying over a long period.
The 2366i has a promised battery life of 3.9 hours talk time and 13 days standby time. Our tests revealed an impressive talk time of 4 hours and 20 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Nokia 2366i has a digital SAR rating of 0.87 watts per kilogram.