With hot new skinny phones coming fast and furious, you would think that cell phone design is all about thinness and not much else. Well, thanks to the always-savvy design innovators at Nokia, we're pleased that cell phones can still break the all-about-slim mold. The Nokia 3250 is one such phone, with a unique swiveling keypad that's the first of its kind--it twists up to 270 degrees in order to quickly switch from one function to another. The phone also comes in four different colors; black, green, pink, and silver. It's not supported by a U.S carrier just yet, so you'll have to buy an unlocked version for about $339.99.
When viewed with the dial pad in front, the camera lens is on the left spine, while the external music controls are on the back. The twist-action design of the phone is made possible by having the phone split into two parts; the display half and the keypad half. Twisting the phone lets you switch between phone mode (with the dial pad in front), camera mode (the keypad portion in a 90-degree angle), and music mode (with external music controls in front), triggering the appropriate application at each turn. You can turn the camera 90 degrees away from you, or 90 degrees toward you for a self-portrait shot. It's a little gimmicky, but we liked that we didn't have to scroll through several menus in order to access these multimedia features. We do have one slight complaint about the 90-degree camera mode, however. The navigation joystick appears to be the only way to scroll through the different camera options, but with the keypad swung 90 degrees, access to the joystick was cramped.
The phone itself is a tad bulky at 4.09 by 1.0 by 0.78 inches with a weight of 4.06 ounces, but it has a nice heft when held in the hand and against the ear. Another showstopper design element on the 3250 is its striking 262,144-color screen that measures 2.2 inches diagonally. Though the brightness and backlight timer of the display can be altered, you can't change the size of the fonts. Underneath the screen are a menu button, two soft keys, a Clear key, a five-way navigation joystick, the Talk and End keys, and an Edit key. The Play/Pause key also doubles as a Camera button when in camera mode. All of the keys have a slightly rubberized feel with a raised texture that makes it easy to dial and navigate by feel.
Thankfully, the 3250 does come with a Micro SD card slot, but it is a little difficult to access. You have to twist the keypad into camera mode (90 degrees), and it is located right underneath the Talk key. It's a little difficult to swap out cards at that tight angle, and we wished the slot were more conveniently located along the phone's spine. On top of the phone is the power button, while its charging/connector port is located on its right spine. You'll have to attach an included adapter to use a pair of earbuds with the phone.
Now on to the meat and potatoes of the 3250: its features. But before we delve into its multimedia functions, here are the basics. Each contact in the Nokia 3250's address book holds up to 17 numbers, three e-mail addresses, three URLs, three street addresses, a birth date, and a note and can be assigned to a group, or one of 41 polyphonic ring tones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, a speakerphone, a clock, a calculator, a calendar, a unit converter, notes, voice command and dialing, a file manager, Bluetooth, and a wireless Web browser. There's also a LifeBlog feature that lets you upload pictures on your phone directly to the Web.