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Nokia 3205 (Sprint) review: Nokia 3205 (Sprint)

The Nokia 3205 will please casual callers who care more about personal style than about fancy features. Read our review to see if the mobile could meet the needs of more demanding users.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
3 min read
Nokia 3205
When we first saw the Nokia 3200 (for AT&T Wireless and Cingular), we thought it looked like a cross between a cell phone and a coloring book. With a removable plastic casing and changeable paper covers, the handset took customization to a whole new level. In fact, it even came with blank covers for still more personal designs. Now CDMA users can get in on the fun with the Nokia 3205 for Sprint PCS. Looking much like the original model, the 3205 also offers many of the same features. But while the integrated camera was superior, battery life was remarkably shorter.


Nokia 3205 (Sprint)

The Good

Extensive personalization options; infrared port; integrated VGA camera; analog roaming.

The Bad

Confusing keypad layout; low-resolution screen; poor speakerphone quality; short talk time and battery life.

The Bottom Line

Though its features are nothing to scream about, the Nokia 3205 has a striking, dare-to-be-different look and feel.
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Cover-up: With its colorful covers, the 3205 is anything but boring.

Designwise, the 3205 is nearly identical to its predecessor. It shares the same dimensions (4.2 by 1.8 by 0.8 inches), but at 3.4 ounces, it weighs slightly more. On the plus side, you get more cover choices than with the 3200, and the phone feels sturdier when held. Unfortunately, though, the new mobile carries over many of the distractions from the 3200. The 1.5-inch-diagonal 4,096-color screen is far from vibrant, and the power button isn't the most tactile. Similarly, while the navigation keys are mostly easy to use and give shortcuts to various functions, the confusing dial-pad keys--consisting of six oval buttons with two characters, each set in uneven rows--are equally off-putting. And remember: since the phone's entire cover is removable, there's no side volume rocker or camera key.

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

Though the organizer and phone-book features on the Nokia 3205 are largely the same as those on the 3200, there are some important differences elsewhere. The Sprint handset has no support for instant messaging, but the photo quality is somewhat better. Sporting a 640x480 VGA lens instead of the 3200's 352x288 CIF (common interface format) lens, the 3205 offers better photo quality as well as a shutter sound option. Advanced photo effects are still disappointingly slim, however, and the 3205 is missing a self-timer, a flash, and a mirror for taking self-portraits. For sending photos to others, multimedia messaging is included, but it has the same quirk that's found on the 3200: Only pre-existing sound clips can be attached when sending newly snapped photos. To add a new sound clip, you must save the photo, record the sound clip, then compose the message.

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A bit better: The Nokia 3205's picture quality was improved over the 3200's.

Luckily, the 3205 retains the speakerphone, the infrared port, the FM radio, and the tiny flashlight. And as a bonus, it sports 30 polyphonic ring tones, compared with only 1 on the 3200. You also get more Java (J2ME)-enabled games: Beach Rally, Bounce, Bowling Deluxe, Gauntlet, Solitaire, Triple Pop, Water Rapids, and WildWest Blackjack. Besides its covers, the phone can be customized with wallpaper and screensavers, with more choices available for download from Sprint via the WAP 2.0 Wireless Web browser. For saving pictures and applications, internal memory has been doubled to 2MB.

In performance, the Nokia 3205 did not fare as well as its predecessor. Audio quality was mostly good through the phone and the included headset, but calls using the speakerphone had too much static and not enough volume. Likewise, talk-time battery life was a disappointment. Though we beat the rated talk time by an extra half hour, at 3 hours, it was still far off the 7 hours we managed with the 3200. Standby time, however, was about the same. We coaxed 9.5 days on a single charge, beating the promised time by 2 days. According to the FCC, the Nokia 3205 has a digital SAR rating of 1.29 watts per kilogram and an analog SAR rating of 1.28 watts per kilogram.


Nokia 3205 (Sprint)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7