Back to basics – Nokia 3110 Classic

I’ve gone from a Samsung SGH-X820 to a Nokia E65 in the space of a year and before finally buying a Nokia 3110 Classic.

The Samsung by far offered the best picture, sound and video quality, but the worst battery life. As I SMS a lot and have primarily used Nokia phones, the predictive text input was also annoying in that the space was located differently to that of Nokia phones, drastically slowing down my text input rate. While the multimedia features of the phone are a cut above that which comparable Nokia phones have to offer, I found myself using it less as a media player and more as a phone / SMS device, which at the end of the day, meant that I had to deal with a battery that gave up at the end of each day, which if I ever forgot to charge it overnight or was travelling, was a disaster (though I did get a spare battery and external charger with the phone, which helps things a bit).

The Nokia E65, which I bought after the X820, is Morris Minor that’s donned a Ferrari outfit. It looks delicious, but when you begin to use it, you realise that it’s horrendously underpowered and over-featured. Admittedly, the Symbian operating system it runs is extremely capable and within a week of getting the phone I had installed a number of free programmes that got me the latest RSS feeds, allowed me to connect to Skype, Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and SIP through WiFi, got me daily weather updates, my Gmail account and even Reuters news. I even installed Opera Mini on it. Over a WiFi connection, using it to connect to these services was a breeze.

But here’s the rub. The phone, being a 3G device, constantly switched between the GPRS and 3G / UMTS network as I travelled around, almost invariably resulting in dropped calls or disrupted data flows. The final straw came when I was in Kandalama Hotel recently for a few days and EVERY single time I tried to make a call, the phone threw up a connection error message. Sick of trying numbers repeatedly, switching the 3G network off helped things considerably, which of course meant that most of the data services on the phone, including VOIP through Fring, were rendered unusable.

The E65 is also quite slow and frequently crashed when I tried to do things in rapid succession (one crash that was particular annoying and recurrent was when a call could not connect and I hit the End Call button, resulting in a total freeze of the phone). While I got it to work / sync with iSync and Address Book on my Mac using plugins for both from Novamedia, I never really used the high-end 3G functionality on the phone and never got around to getting Dialog to configuring its built in Realplayer to watch mobile TV. Also not entirely sure I would have enjoyed TV on it had I set it up, given that the E65 does not come standard with stereo headphones.

In the end, it was the performance, or significant lack thereof, that made me tire of the E65 and last week go in for a Nokia 3110 Classic, a new and basic mobile phone from Nokia that plays nice with my Mac, sports Bluetooth, a radio, stereo headphones, a media player and a wonderful, large keypad that is an absolute joy to type on. Using Nokia’s own operating system, it’s as fast and reliable as I remember and trust Nokia’s to be. No 3G, but using GPRS EDGE, connects to services like Facebook remarkably fast – which is really all I need when on the move since I always have my Mac with me. Design wise (and I’m a sucker for good design aesthetics in anything I buy) the 3310 Classic is more robust and even better looking than the significantly more expensive the E65.

The clear, if expensive, lesson for me – the most feature laden phone isn’t always the best for my needs. Looking forward to using the 3110 Classic in my work with Ken Banks and the development of FrontlineSMS to support peacebuilding and peace processes.