Nokia 3110 classic review

Nokia 3110 classicI bought this phone about 1 month ago. I want to write a review because I know how hard it can be to decide which phone to buy when you can only see them in the shop or read online about them, but you can’t take it home for a few days and use it. I’m going to write about how it performs, what I like/dislike about it and how it compares to my old phone (it does have some bad aspects, as I believe most modern phones do). I hope you will find this useful, and if there’s anything you want to know in particular about it, feel free to post a comment.

I owned a Nokia 3410 for 4 years, and it pretty much did the job for me. However I decided it was time for a new mobile phone, so I documented myself from the web as much as I could before buying this one. The only things I really need from my phone are a good organizer, profiles for easy switching and some message management including memory to store SMS messages, so I don’t have to keep deleting them by hand.

My old 3410 did the job pretty well! However I recently asked my operator (Vodafone Romania) to change my 4-year-old SIM card with a new one (the old one showed wear on the connectors, and I expected a bigger phone book on the SIM, although I only use the phone memory for contacts). What happened is that my shiny new SIM card had a smaller space for the phone book (150 entries instead of the old 200) and after receiving about 4 or 5 SMS messages the phone told me there was no room for any more. In a way, this goes to prove the fact that we should never touch a running system.

So, there I was, “forced” in a way to buy a new phone (and I also wanted to be able to personalize it with pictures, themes and polyphonic/mp3 ringtones, but this pleasure was short-lived). So, I started to look for a phone that would have:

  • a powerful organizer
  • long battery stand-by time
  • Java
  • a bright, responsive screen
  • polyphonic and mp3 ringtones
  • computer connection (without buying an additional expensive cable)
  • some phone memory

Out of the above, I have discovered I only use the first two. My father has a Nokia 3120 phone, and I believe that phone would suit my needs very well. My 3110 classic costs almost double the price of the 3120 (it does have some extra features, but I don’t use them so if you use what I do, it might be useful to check the 3120 and see how it works). The rest of the review describes the 3110 classic.

Organizer

The organizer is very powerful, perfectly capable of providing what I need: some reminders which are used once and never needed again and also reminders which are automatically repeated at a specified interval. The interval is very customizable allowing you to repeat:

  • On selected week days, reminder repeats every 1,2..n weeks (you choose the number; it can be very big).
  • Reminder repeats every 1,2..n days
  • Reminder repeats every 1,2..n months

You can let the reminder work for only a specified period, or make it run ‘forever’ repeating at the desired interval. When you browse through the weeks/months of the calendar you see all repetitions of reminders. The phone has about 8 or 9 MB of memory available for the user, so as long as you don’t fill it with pictures or other files, there should be plenty of room for phone book, SMS messages and reminders.

Besides the classical reminder, which I use most of the time, you can add Birthdays, Meetings, Memos etc. to the calendar. They work in a similar fashion (for example birthdays repeat automatically every year; you choose the date of the birthday and the date you want to be reminded of it – so you have time to buy a present or adjust your schedule). They also have the option of sounding an alarm or being silent at the specified date/time for the reminder.

The above appear when you view the calendar. There is also a Notes list and a To-do list. The notes are just text you save (up to 3000 characters each note) and the To-dos have a 160 character description, a deadline, a priority (3 levels) and a date when you are reminded. When viewing the To-do list, you see a symbol indicating the priority, the description and a check-mark if you have marked the “to-do” as completed. There is a exclamation point present instead of the check-mark if you have passed the deadline and haven’t marked it as done.

Messaging (SMS)

I only use SMS messages so I will briefly discuss those (though I have successfully managed to send a few MMS messages). As I mentioned before the phone memory is more than enough to store a large number of text messages. I currently have over 40 SMS messages in my Inbox and over 40 in my Sent items folder, all of which are between 1 and 3 concatenated messages in length (the phone supports up to 1000 characters at once in a concatenated message). Together with 20 delivery reports the phone reports 130kB in use by messaging.

When sending a message, you don’t have to search through the whole address book to find the recipient: the phone stores a Recently used list containing the people/numbers you sent messages to. This can be at any time deleted from the Log menu and will be automatically built as you send messages.

A great feature (I have seen it on Sony-Ericssons and I think most modern phones have it) is that after you choose to send a message, the phone says ‘Saved for sending’, moves the message to the Outbox folder and then sends it in the background. You can continue to use the phone, navigate through the menus while the message is being sent. You don’t have to wait a long time (especially in the case of a long concatenated message) as I did on my old 3410. In the upper-left corner there is a list of icons indicating the current state of the phone. While the message is being sent, an animated icon appears there. When the message sending has completed the icon is removed and the message is moved from the Outbox to the Sent items folder. You can also choose not to store sent messages in the phone.

If you enable delivery reports, they are shown in a non-disturbing manner, appearing as an information on the screen and disappearing after a few seconds or after you press a button on the phone. On my old 3410 they appeared as a new message, which appeared as a report (looked different from a normal message) when viewed in the Inbox.

If you write messages a lot you will find the Dictionary of great use. By using predictive input (press a key once for any of the letters on it, and the phone will guess the word as you type in more letters) you can write very fast without having your hand get tired. If the language you write in has some special characters (my phone had the Romanian dictionary available and the language has special characters like ă, î, ş, ţ, â), then the words the dictionary writes contain these characters (where needed).
If you send the SMS with those special characters, two problems might occur:

  • the receiver’s phone might not identify them correctly
    I believe this can only happen if he or she has an old phone. Even my old 3410 could understand some special characters.
  • some of these symbols occupy more than one character slot in a message
    An SMS is 160 characters long, and some special symbols will be sent as a series of 2 or 3 characters from the available 160. This means that you will be able to send less text in a single message.

To address these issues you have a very nice setting found under Messages→Message settings→Text messages called Character support. If you choose Reduced then the message will be sent without the special characters (for Romanian ă and â will be replaced with a, ş with s etc.)

Battery stand-by time

I haven’t counted the number of days between recharges, but I have noticed that the battery wears out much quicker when I use the phone a lot. If you activate the Power saver and the Sleep mode (one of them makes the screen black and displays the time on a line which moves from time to time, the other turns the screen completely off after a few minutes) you will probably increase the stand-by time considerably.

Display and general operation

Besides operating the phone (which probably adds a significant consumption by itself), I think the display also uses a lot of power when operating. It is very bright, and it can be painful to look at closely at night (or in the dark). However, this does make it a good torch. And it is clearly visible in powerful direct sunlight.

The display has a resolution of 128×160 pixels, which is good for phones in this price-range. The colors are very nice and the response time is very good. I have seen phones where the display has a delay in response time, and I certainly tried to avoid that when purchasing a new phone. It occupies a big part of the phone (as you can see in the picture at the top of this post) and can accommodate enough information/menu icons.

The number keys are indeed big and comfortable to use. If you write a lot of SMS messages they will be pleasant and easy to use. The 4 directions of the 5-way navigational key and the two soft-keys provide completely configurable shortcuts from the standby mode (you can choose from a large list where you want each of them to take you, so you don’t have to navigate the menus to get to the To-do list or to create a new message).

Sounds

Although I was enthusiastic about polyphonic and mp3 ringtones, I must say that I prefer the old speaker of my 3410. This new phone (as I think most new phones are) has very nice, pleasing ringtones (the Nokia tune is played on a piano) which are great if you are in a silent room with the phone. The sounds aren’t very loud so they don’t scare you. But if you are in a noisy environment (public transportation) or you are watching TV and the phone is in the other room, it is very hard to hear it ring (which almost never happened with my old 3410). So, after you buy it, make sure to search for some very loud sounding ringtones (maybe sounding like a good old classic telephone).

The alarm and reminders are also pleasant sounding.. which isn’t always a good thing. They don’t always wake you up (especially if you’re tired). The alarm tone is however configurable to anything you like.

Other stuff

The phone feels light and comfortable to hold, it is also quite slim. The display can easily get covered with fingerprints, and be careful not to carry it in your pocket with your keys, or it might start to get scratched a little. I have only used the camera to make a few pictures, so I can tell you very much about it.

The computer connection is done through a mini-USB port (the same some digital cameras and mp3 players use), so you don’t need an expensive proprietary cable to connect the phone to your computer. I downloaded Nokia PC Suite from Nokia’s website which installs the drivers you need. You can also back up your phone book on your computer. You can also download new themes or create your own using Nokia Theme Studio which you can download from Nokia Forum after making an account.

Overall it is a good phone, it does its job and allows for some good data transfer speeds over GPRS/EDGE, but I don’t use them. It also provides you with an infrared port, a bluetooth port and it can be used as a modem to connect your computer to the Internet. You can read more about its technical specifications on GSM arena and on the Nokia website.

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