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Nokia 3220 (T-Mobile) review: Nokia 3220 (T-Mobile)

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Bare bones: There's no flash or mirror with the 3220's camera lens.

Although the 3220 includes a camera, it's implemented as more of a fun extra than as a key feature. Good thing, since the VGA (640x480) camera is of such poor quality that it shouldn't be the primary reason to buy this handset. Shots were consistently dark and fuzzy. Also, because you have to use the awkward center button on the scroll key to snap pictures, it's all but impossible to hold your hand steady enough to get a clear photo. On the plus side, the camera does include a self-timer with a 10-second delay--the grips flash green at first, then red during the final three seconds before the shutter fires. You can take pictures in either standard or portrait modes, and you can set the default camera mode to either of those settings, as well as night or video modes. You won't find any photo effects or fun frames to dress up your pictures, however. The video recorder allows you to capture clips of 15 or 50 seconds in MPEG-4 format. Of the 3220's 16MB of memory, only a paltry 2MB are available for images and video clips, and that memory is shared with the phone's other functions.

The 3220 had average photo quality for a camera phone.

Being a teen-friendly phone, the 3220 comes with plenty of personalization options. You can customize the handset with a variety of wallpaper, sounds, screensavers, and color schemes. If you don't find what you want, you can download more options and more ring tones. You can also personalize the flashing lights on the side of the mobile with a selection of patterns. As an added quirk, $49.95 will get you a special faceplate (similar to the SmartSkins on the Identity Curitel) that comes with special games and an array of flashing lights that enables you to flash a message in the air by waving your phone. The 3220 comes with five Java (J2ME)-enabled games: Water Rapids, Adventure Race, Phantom Spider, Club Pinball, and Dance DeLight; but you can get more titles if you want them. Finally, there is an FM radio, but you need a headset to act as an antenna.

The dual-band (GSM 850/1800/1900; GPRS/EDGE) Nokia 3220 proved to be a solid performer in our tests. We made several calls in Chicago and San Francisco on the AT&T Wireless (now part of Cingular Wireless) network, and call quality was consistently good. We encountered little static and few dropouts, although callers said they could tell we were using a cell phone. The speakerphone is loud enough in a quiet room, but the volume is insufficient for use while driving or other situations with heavy background din. Also, while callers could hear us in speakerphone mode, they preferred we use the handset mic instead. The Web browser is faster on the EDGE network, but the small display diminishes the experience.

We easily beat the rated 3.5 hours of talk time with more than 4.5 hours of continuous use. As for standby time, the phone managed a solid 10 days on a single charge, compared with Nokia's 14-day rating. According to the FCC, the Nokia 3220 has a digital SAR rating of 0.57 watts per kilogram.

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