Nokia 3620 (AT&T) review: Nokia 3620 (AT&T)

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The Good Built-in camera and video recorder; Symbian OS; IR port; Bluetooth; large color display; includes 16MB MultiMediaCard.

The Bad No side buttons to adjust volume; bulky.

The Bottom Line The Nokia 3620 sports all the must-have features for an affordable price.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8

Review summary

When Nokia introduced the 3650 handset, it was the first groundbreaking mobile the company had brought to the U.S. market in quite a while. Now, Nokia improves on its earlier model with the 3620 smart phone for AT&T Wireless. While it uses one fewer GSM band, the Nokia 3620 retains its predecessor's Bluetooth, integrated camera, speakerphone, and memory card expansion slot but adds a high-resolution screen and a redesigned keypad. Though its $149 price tag is comparable to other models', the 3620 faces stiff competition from other camera phones currently available. For the most part, the Nokia 3620 largely resembles its predecessor, the Nokia 3650, in both size and shape. You'll find differences, however, in the keypad and the 10-line, 2.25-inch diagonal display. The 3620 captures a full 65,536 colors (a noted improvement over the 4,096 colors on the 3650), making it easy to see in low light and giving it a sharp and vivid look. Yet its unique design comes at a price: girth. Measuring 5.1 by 2.2 by 1.0 inches and weighing 4.59 ounces, the 3620 is too big for pockets, and it can feel awkward to hold against your ear.

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The 3620's hefty size encloses an equally substantial feature set.
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Extra space: Upgrade the phone's memory by adding higher-capacity MultiMediaCards.

As noted, the other major difference between the 3620 and its older brother is the keypad. While the earlier model featured buttons arranged in a rotary style and took some acclimation, the backlit keys on the 3620 sit in more-traditional rows. You'll find a dedicated key for switching between predictive, standard, and other text modes, but we had two small complaints. The five-way navigation button is a bit small for those with large thumbs, and a cryptic, blue-elliptical graphic adorns the dedicated, but tiny, menu button. On a more upbeat note, each of the number keys can be assigned a shortcut to a designated feature.

The real showstopper is the phone's camera and video recorder. On the 3620's back is a VGA 3.5mm lens; there's no built-in flash, but we didn't miss it. Like many of today's camera phones, the 3620 has a screen that does double duty as the viewfinder. To take pictures, you launch the camera application and press the four-way rocker key, which serves as a shutter-release button. You also can snap shots via the phone's internal menus. Storage isn't an issue with the handset; you can keep images on the phone's 3.4MB of onboard memory or the included 16MB MultiMediaCard stowed away under the battery. If you want more space, you can add a higher-capacity card.

On the side of the phone, you'll find an IR port, and on the top--in classic Nokia fashion--lives the on/off button. When Bluetooth is activated, a black dot appears at the top of the display. The bottom of the mobile has jacks for a power plug and a headset. Unfortunately, there are no volume-control buttons on the side, which means you'll need to remove the phone from your ear in the middle of a conversation to adjust the sound level or to activate the speakerphone function.
The Nokia 3620 has a 1,000-name phone book with room for three contact numbers and an e-mail address for each entry; you can also store more info on the SIM and MultiMediaCards. Other standard features include picture caller ID (when available), conference calling, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a calculator, a to-do list, a currency converter, a notepad, and wireless Web access for WAP and XHTML sites. You get voice-activated dialing for up to 25 numbers, as well as a built-in speakerphone and voice recorder. Two Java (J2ME)-enabled games are included: Mix Pix and Snake Ex; you can use Bluetooth to play them in two-player mode. Sound options include a music composer, 18 polyphonic and 11 monophonic ring tones, and five ringer profiles; you can even assign ring tones to caller groups.

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Bull's-eye: The camera/video recorder is on the back of the phone.
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Fading fast: The image quality isn't quite as vibrant as that of other camera phone combos.

Just like the Nokia 3650, this phone runs the Symbian 6.1 OS, which is easy to customize and can be used for business. For variety, you can download additional apps, games, screensavers, and ring tones, or you can reorder the phone's menu system and select between a list-type or a PDA-like graphical user interface. Also, this mobile supports SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4 e-mail. You can sync with your desktop PIM via IR or Bluetooth, but you'll need to download the free software from the Nokia site.

As noted, one of the 3620's major selling points is the built-in VGA (640x480 resolution) digital camera and video recorder. You can take pictures at the highest resolution of 176x208 pixels in three different modes: up to 300 images in Portrait, 18 pics with Night, or 15 shots in Standard. In video mode, you can record up to 95K of footage at 15 frames per second. The video isn't exactly smooth, and you get only 30 seconds of playback, but it's a nice novelty. You can use the included RealOne Player to add music clips and record sound when shooting videos. It's easy to choose between storing pictures and videos on the phone's internal memory or on the external MultiMediaCard. As with many of these devices, the image quality is mediocre at best and not suitable for printing.

Once you capture pictures, you can play with them in a few ways. You can associate the image with a name in the phone book, save it as wallpaper, e-mail it to friends, and send it to other MMS-ready phones that work on the same network. Nokia includes a trial version of FotoFit, with which you can place faces from your stored shots on famous people; for example, you can put a picture of your friend on Abe Lincoln's body. You can also send and receive data via Bluetooth and IR.
We tested the dual-mode (GSM 850/1900) Nokia 3620 service in San Francisco using AT&T Wireless services. Calls generally sounded good; callers came through clearly, and they had no trouble hearing us. The speakerphone quality also was respectable and equivalent to that found on comparable phones.

The handset will work on the GPRS network and is ready for high-speed wireless-data access. In our tests, we were able to connect just fine, and though browsing time wasn't stellar, it was noticeably faster than that of 2G phones.

As for battery life, we far surpassed the promised four hours of talk time by three hours, and we matched the rated standby time of eight days. That's impressive for a phone with a color screen, and it's an improvement over the Nokia 3650. It's worth noting that the battery will drain more quickly if you use the camera or video recorder features a lot.

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