Nokia 3200 (AT&T) review: Nokia 3200 (AT&T)

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The Good Extensive personalization options; instant messaging; built-in speakerphone; FM radio; decent battery life; IR port; EDGE network compatibility.

The Bad Plastic casing is somewhat flimsy; confusing keypad layout; unintuitive multimedia messaging; CIF camera offers only basic features; only 1MB of shared memory.

The Bottom Line Though it comes with some nice features, the Nokia 3200's dare-to-be-different design will not appeal to everyone.

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7.6 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

Review summary

With its 3200, Nokia may be the first company to successfully combine a cell phone and a coloring book. An individualist's dream, this striking mobile for AT&T Wireless and Cingular service can be inexpensively personalized through its paper covers and a little imagination. Teens will especially appreciate the phone's integrated camera and such offbeat features as a flashlight and an FM radio. But with a $219 price tag (without service), it isn't exactly in a kid's price range; those on a more limited budget who can do without the camera should check out the company's 3100 model. Slender and slightly tapered at its bottom, the candy bar-style 3200 is marginally bigger and heavier (4.2 by 1.8 by 0.8 inches; 3.1 ounces) than its closet predecessor, the Nokia 3100. But any similarities between it and other handsets stop there, as the 3200 takes customization to a new level. After removing the clear plastic casing, you can insert colorful paper covers for both the front and back of the phone for a truly personalized look. The mobile comes with three prefabricated covers as well as few blank slates that can be designed to one's pleasing. Run out of those? No problem--grab some paper, scissors, and colored pens, then use your imagination for the rest.

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With its colorful covers, the 3200 is anything but boring.

Unique as the design may be, it also is the source of some of the phone's flaws. The plastic case wasn't the sturdiest, and we're concerned that constantly removing it will exacerbate the problem. The Nokia's 4,096-color, 1.5-inch-diagonal screen isn't the notably vibrant, but it does the job, even in low light.

While the four-way navigation toggle, which gives one-touch access to user-definable functions, was easy enough to master, the Talk and End keys were curiously labeled. Instead of the standard green and red phone icons, the buttons, which double as soft keys for the straightforward menu, were marked with a green and red stripe. Like the Nokia 3595, the 3200 has a keypad that is unusual but also somewhat off-putting. Instead of nine individual buttons, six oval keys set in uneven rows have two characters each. Though the keys are backlit nicely, we misdialed often.
The 3200's phone book can hold 250 names, each with room for five numbers and e-mail, Web, and street addresses. An additional 250 contacts can be stored on the SIM card. Other features include a voice recorder, text and multimedia messaging, AOL and ICQ instant messenger, an alarm clock, a calendar, a calculator, two Java (J2ME)-enabled games (Virtual Me and Bounce), and a duplex speakerphone (see the Performance section). You'll find 1 polyphonic and 10 monophonic ring tones, plus a vibrate mode. While pictures can be assigned to individual contacts, ring tones can be assigned to caller groups only.

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The rear-facing camera lens makes self-portraits a problem.

Also of note are the aforementioned FM radio and the flashlight, both of which are found on the Nokia 5100. You activate the flashlight by holding down the star key (though it's not labeled), and it's much brighter than the 5100's. The included headphones act as the antenna for the FM radio, which has 20 presets, and the radio pauses automatically when you are making or receiving a call (done via the headset or phone). Thus, you can't listen to the radio through the handset's speakerphone.

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Snapping a picture requires just two clicks.

We were somewhat divided on the mobile's low-end 352x288 CIF (common interface format) camera. Though it is easy to use, it comes with only the most basic features. Included are three image-quality options (High, Normal, and Basic), night and portrait modes, and a self-timer. Moreover, the placement of the lens on the back of the handset (sans a mirror) makes self-portraits hard to capture, and the 3200 has merely 1MB of shared memory for pictures and downloaded applications. One quirk: You can attach only preexisting sound clips when sending newly snapped photos. To add a new clip, you must save the photo, record the sound, then compose the message.

Beyond the aforementioned covers, the 3200 can be personalized through a variety of wallpapers, images, and color schemes, with more choices and additional ring tones that can be downloaded through AT&T's mMode service and Cingular's Web site. You access the Internet through the Nokia's WAP 2.0 browser and the high-speed EDGE network (see the Performance section). You also can beam a contact's information to another phone via the infrared port.
We tested the triband (GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/1800/1900) in San Francisco using AT&T Wireless service. Callers sounded mostly clear, though their voices had a metallic tinge, and they reported some static on their end. Speakerphone quality and the radio also were good, but it's important to keep the headset/antenna relatively still or you'll lose radio reception. Surfing the Web over the high-speed EDGE and GPRS networks was a pleasant experience; pages loaded more quickly than on a GPRS-only phone.

As expected from Nokia phones, battery life was solid. We got a full seven hours of talk time, almost double the rated talk time of four hours. For standby battery time, we fell a bit short but still managed an impressive 9.5 days, compared with the promised time of 12 days.

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