Nokia has always had a peculiar relationship with CDMA phones. The Finns dabbled in the space here and there but remained a staunchly GSM company. Then in 2006, Nokia decided it would retreat from the space almost completely by handing over CDMA handset design to Korea's Pantech. Though the Nokia name would remain on the CDMA models, for all intents and purposes, they are Pantech devices. The latest in the series, Verizon's Nokia 6315i, follows on the heels of the Nokia 6305i, which was also a Verizon handset. Though the EV-DO-equipped 6315i offers good call quality and adds some important features, its design and multimedia performance are a step down from its predecessor, the 6305i. The result is an acceptable phone, but as an all-around 3G device, it can't compete with the likes of the LG VX8300 or the Samsung SCH-A990.
We'll be frank by saying the Nokia 6315i doesn't offer much in terms of design. Instead of resembling the slick 6305i, it looks more like its other Nokia/Pantech sibling, the basic Nokia 6215i. Sporting an angular, boxy flip phone shape with a dull black and silver color scheme, the 6315i hardly looks like a multimedia phone save for the dedicated music-player buttons on the front flap. At 3.5 by 1.9 by 0.7 inches and 3.5 ounces, the 6315i is neither big nor small, but it does make a nod toward the thin-phone craze. The stubby antenna adds a bit more girth, but the phone has a solid feeling in the hand; the opening mechanism felt somewhat loose.
The external display measure 1 inch (96x96 pixels) and shows 65,536 colors. It's a nice effort overall as it displays not only the date, time, signal strength, and battery life, but also photo caller ID. You can change the wallpaper and the clock style on the display, but no other options are customizable. It also acts as a viewfinder for self-portraits, but you must go into the camera option to activate this feature. Speaking of which, the camera lens and flash are inconveniently located on the top rear of the phone.
Below the display are the aforementioned media player controls that allow you to open the player, then play, pause, rewind, or fast-forward your music. They're useful indeed, even if they are a bit too flat. Below the controls is the phone's sole external speaker. A covered headset jack, a volume rocker, and a camera shutter sit on the left spine, while the Micro SD slot sits on the right spine. We were glad to see Nokia/Pantech didn't stuff it behind the battery cover.
The internal display is a roomy 1.8 inches (1,280x960 pixels) and supports 262,144 colors. It's about average as cell phone displays go, but that's hardly a bad thing as it's great for viewing just about everything, even Verizon's much-maligned menu structure. You can alter the contrast, dialing font, backlight time, and clock format.
Immediately below the display are the navigation keys, which were on one hand spacious, but on the other hand also slippery and too flush with the surface of the phone. They're not unusable by any means but our finger slipped around a few times. A four-way toggle surrounds a central OK button and doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. There are also two soft keys, a camera shortcut, and, in a nice move, a dedicated speakerphone button that you can activate before you make a call. The Talk and End/Power buttons and the Clear/Voice-Dialing control complete the navigation array. The keypad buttons are roomy as well, but they too are slick and completely flat with the surface of the phone. It's difficult to dial by feel, and the backlighting could be brighter.
The internal phone book holds 500 contacts. It's a bit small for such a feature-rich phone, but each entry holds five phone numbers and an e-mail address. You can pair contacts with a picture for caller ID and select a ring tone from the phone's small selection of 10 polyphonic tones. Other features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a voice recorder, instant messaging, e-mail, USB compatibility, PC syncing, modem capability, a calendar, an alarm clock, voice dialing, a notepad, a world clock, a calculator, and a stopwatch. As previously mentioned we're pleased the 6315i bests the 6305i by including an external memory slot and Bluetooth, even if the latter comes with Verizon's usual restrictions. And as we said, the speakerphone is quite user friendly; you can activate it before you make a call.