Corporate professionals might hesitate before investing in a handset like this but there is no doubt this phone will appeal to teenagers with its loud design and unique features.
Considering it's not a tiny phone, measuring 105 by 44 by 19 millimetres, at 86 grams it is incredibly light. The 3220's bulbous shape is attributed mostly to the translucent rubber grips that bulge out on its sides. The side grips not only make the 3220 very comfortable to hold but they house coloured LEDs that light up when a call or message is received, in time with ring tones. Our test model flaunts a red and blue case and features green and red LEDs on the sides.
Similar to its predecessor, the cute 3200, Nokia's 3220 lets your creativity run wild by allowing you to display your own cut-out covers to slip in behind a transparent plastic slot at the back -- provided you're not using the 'Fun Shell' (see features below).
All things considered, we like the 3220's design. Although relatively small, the 128 by 128 pixel screen is capable of displaying 65,536 colours. The rubbery keypad is comfortable to navigate and the buttons are adequately sized. Its only flaw we can find is that the central navigation key, like many, can accidentally press in the wrong direction when you try to make a selection.
The Fun Shell is a back cover for the 3220 (sold separately) that contains a strip of LEDs allowing you to 'write messages in the air'. It's the most attention grabbing feature of the 3220 and a novelty on first use -- pity it costs an extra AU$100. Once the Fun Shell is attached the 3220 automatically installs an application called Cover Browser. Launching the app gives you the option of downloading the Wave Message add-on over GPRS.
With Wave Message installed, you can then choose from a range of text templates, such as "I love you" and "CUTE!" as well as a couple of small pictures, such as a rose and a smiley face. Pressing OK prompts you to start waving the phone in the air to display the message produced on the back. It can take a little getting used to the speed needed to adequately display your message; pretend your arm is a super fast windscreen wiper with the 3220 in your hand at you'll be on the right track. Our tests over the festive season proved it can look utterly ridiculous trying to get your message across a busy nightclub, but being inventive with your own messages can be fun. Teenagers should also get a little thrill from the novelty.
Capturing photos is as simple as pressing up on the 3220's navigation key followed by Select. Similarly, sending off an MMS after taking a photo is quick and easy. The VGA camera does an average job of taking pictures compared to Sony Ericsson's S700i and Siemens S65, which are far more competent in the photography department.
In the ring tone arena we find 27 pre-installed polyphonic sounds plus the familiar suite of Nokia noises. Impressively, the tones come through loud and clear, especially considering lower end handsets generally lack a decent loudspeaker.
Seven pre-installed themes provide even more customisation options. We found an eye-catching psychedelic screensaver as well as loads of wallpaper, colour options and menu backgrounds.
As the 3220 is a tri-band GSM phone it will work in more countries than most low-end phones, which are usually dual-band. When the Fun Shell isn't used excessively, we averaged good stretches of battery life between charges -- up to four days. Nokia claims the battery will last up to 7.5 hours of talk time or up to 280 to 400 hours standby. However, frequently using the camera and Fun Shell proved to be a drain on the life span.
Other notable additions include an alarm clock, calendar, to do list and a handful of Java games, the latter most likely to appeal to the target audience. Games include Air Express, Nature Park, Water Rapids, Adventure Race, Phantom Spider, Club Pinball and Dance Delight. Some of these are pre-installed, other require the Fun Shell attachment as they use the accessory's motion sensor as part of the game play.
Nokia's 3220 is sure to be snatched up by the youth market attracted to its bright, vivacious design and flashing lights. However, others will prefer a less cartoon-like phone and look for a more sophisticated handset, such as the Motorola V3, or a phone with high-end features like HP's iPAQ h6365.