portfolio features another new music phone and that's the Nokia 3250. The device features a 2 megapixel camera, a built-in radio, the latest Symbian OS 9.1; on the top of it, it uses the tiniest memory cards in the world and comes with a wide range of accessories. If you wonder whether you should buy Nokia 3250 or Sony Ericsson W800, read our detailed review, which we hope will help you to make the right decision.
Official pictures of Nokia 3250
- Unusual rotary construction
- solid body and well elaborated construction
- Symbian 9.1 OS
- Active stand-by mode
- Good keypad
- 2 megapixel camera
- Built-in radio
- USB Mass Storage
- Exceptionally fast Java
- Powerful loud speaker
- Incompatibility with older applications
- Lower speed compared with common mobile phones
- Not highest resolution display
- Red receiver key closes running applications
- Music player works weirdly
- Bad camera macro mode
- No infrared port
Turn it around...
Nokia launched a real temptation for music and techno fans, as well as for all those, who buy objects that provoke others' admiration. It has succeeded the notoriously famous 3230 model modifying its keypad and construction. However, pay attention to one very important detail: Nokia 3250 is not just another example of the groove play of "pick up a successful device, add some colors and a pair of new functions, and start selling it as a brand new model...".Being the first phone on the market to feature Symbian OS in 9.1 version it's worth much more.
Comparison to Nokia 3230
Before I saw the dimensions of Nokia's newly prepared music phone in September last year, I had thought that the device would be much tinier. Besides, it is exactly how it looks in all official photos even nowadays. Held in hand, however, it feels quite big (104 x 50 x 20 mm) and heavy (115 grams). I myself tend to like heavier and bigger devices though, because they look more solid.
In hand • size comparison with a key
In any case, Nokia 3250 is not a phone you can easily stick into your pocket. Our team was provided with the pink version of Nokia 3250, which made me feel somewhat embarrassed in public. Nevertheless, the pink nuance used on Nokia 3250 is pretty nice. It resembles the old-fashioned rose pink. The glossy frame around the display is elaborated in a similar color. I guess in this case women will hardly have problems to decide which version to buy. As to men, they will probably go for one of the other three options - green, black or silver.
Pink attacks from all around
The covers of the phone are irremovable, which promises that its construction should be of the pretty solid ones. And it really is. All parts of the phone stick together very well, giving a strong impression of firmness. In other words, Nokia 3250's body is one of the best on the entire mobile phones market. The lateral sides of the device, including those constituting part of the bottom rotary segment, are all made of metal. They close all parts of the body so firmly that it does not give a single creak or crunch. Both top and bottom areas of the metal lateral sides are decorated with plastic capsule.
Lateral parts of the device are made of metal
The only elements that "disturb" the metal lateral parts of the phone are the Pop-Port cap, the charge connector, and the locks of the rear cover. The Pop-Port cap is made of hard rubber and holds firm. It seems like it is going to last for some time. Nevertheless it could have been hooked to the body of the phone by a tiny narrow pillar in order to be constantly connected to the device. As this is not the case, I managed to lose it about 5 times within two days. Nokia 3250 is a music phone, which requires frequent use of plug-in earphones, so why does the user have to constantly think about a miniature cap hidden in one of the corners of their pocket or walletω
Pop-Port rubber cap is easy to lose
The rear cover of the device gets open through a press on the above mentioned locks, which are situated in its bottom area and look like rectangle pads. The rear cover is marked by a huge glossy logo "NOKIA". Once the cover has been removed, you will see a lithium-polymer battery BP-6M of 1100 mAh capacity, which is bigger than the one we have seen in other phones of Series 60. In this aspect, the officially announced 245 hours of stand-by and 180 minutes of calls is probably quite realistic.
Locks • battery • SIM card bed
I am not able to provide you with exact and true details on Nokia 3250's battery life as I have been testing it pretty intensively. Besides, I have had it for a few days only. Of course, you should keep in mind that playing music is a highly energy-consuming activity. According to the manual, a single charge of the battery should provide the phone with enough energy for 10 hour of music. In the upper right corner of the phone, right above the battery you will see an eyelet for a neck stripe.
Careful with your ears
Do you remember the capsule plastic area I mentioned aboveω Right there, on the top of the phone is mounted the main switch-off button. It is perfectly positioned as it does not get pressed incidentally, nor does it require too much effort to get working. On the bottom side of the device you will find the grid of the loud speaker, which I am going to pay a closer attention to...
Main switch-off button • loud speaker
... It is really loud. I cannot even believe that such a tiny bar can bawl so much. I was especially impressed by the fact that I could use it as a common music player at a friend's party. The sound is pretty good, even if bass elements are somewhat rejected; instruments do not blend, performance is clear. The same positive evaluation holds true for ringtones, while all standard Nokia sounds we have known for years, seem to have reborn.
You should be particularly careful with your ears when you use the earphone located above the display. It is quite powerful. I have no special remarks to make here.
Earphone in pink
You should think twice before you apply the handset to your ear also because the plastic cover on the top of the phone does not verge smoothly into the pink rim of the display. After a 20-minute call one's ear feels insensitive and even hearts.
Nothing new in the active sector
What a pity that Nokia has not used a QVGA display. Nothing has changed in comparison with Nokia 3230, except for the fact that the display of the new model features 262K colors. All the rest is the same - resolution of 176 x 208 pixels, a surface of 35 x 41 mm, etc...
Display in the dark
In comparison to other Nokia models with Symbian OS, the 9.1 version brings along a few innovations, for example a higher amount of icons and far smaller font, which seem to require a higher resolution than the one the phone is equipped with.
As I have Nokia 6681 right next to me, let me offer you some more comparison. Apart from the above mentioned roughness, the display of Nokia 3250 is notably brighter and features a significantly better contrast than the one of Nokia 6681. I like the fact that the manufacturer has once again appealed to the well-proven solution of the cover glass lapping over the surface of the display, as it makes the display look bigger. Image is fine and even. There are no gaps where dirt may enter.
Before I approach to the rotary joint, let me test the keys located right below the display. Designers have used the same distribution method as in Nokia 3230. Apart from the two context keys and the pair of red and green buttons, through which call are controlled, there are several other keys we all know from previous smartphones with Symbian OS:
- Key for access to main menu and activation of the manager for currently running programs
- Pencil for work with clipboard
- Correction C button
Main control buttons
A silver joystick is the main control element of the device. Press it to confirm your selection; each of its four ways can be set up to start a particular function, but when you use them, be sure the active stand-by mode is off. More information on this topic is to be found in the next chapter. I find the joystick extremely hard to move. Getting used to work with it is not impossible, but it definitely requires a bit of an effort. The correction key and the tiny pencil are much too small, so several times I happened to get it wrong and press something else unintentionally.
Joystick dominates the entire front cover
Plenty of innovative functions
The alpha-numeric keypad of Nokia 3250 is definitely phone's most attractive element. If I am not wrong, Nokia N90 is the only Nokia model, whose parameters include an item "body with a rotary segment", so far (one of our readers made a remark that actually it was Nokia 6260 to first feature this specifications). The same holds true for the new Nokia 3250. Besides a standard keypad its rotary segment also features a 2 megapixel camera and four control keys for the phone's built-in music player.
Do you remember the Rubik's cubeω
The bottom part of the device turns one way to an angle of 90° and the other way up to 180°. It moves in four-rev cycles. Stopping is precise, and is accompanied by a pleasant dimmed clap. Apart from fulfilling certain functions rotating is also quite entertaining and reminds me of Rubik's famous cube. I can assure you that if not on Nokia 3250's color your friends' looks will certainly lay down on phone's rotary keypad.
Elements of the rotary keypad
Main number and letter keys are good. Rubber layer guarantees perfect adhesion between them and user's fingers. The keypad is so well elaborated that you will hardly ever write so fast to "make it sweat". Reactions are exact, uplift and overall work are brilliant. All keys are illuminated in white, except for the two receivers, which keep their original color. The left key column seems to illuminate a bit less than the others. In general, however, the backlighting of Nokia 3250 is above average standard.
Keypad is very easy to work with
If you turn the left side of the keypad towards you, you will see the lens of the built-in camera. This position is ideal for self-portraits. Camera is activated from the main menu. If you turn the keypad the opposite way, the camera application starts running by itself. If you turn the keypad to 360°, you will see in front of you four buttons that get automatically illuminated. They control the music player.
Both-side view at keypad backlighting
What I cannot get is why the buttons serving the music player remain illuminated even after the keypad has been turned back to its original position. To make number keys start to illuminate again you will have to turn the keypad to the position I described first (with the camera looking at you) for a moment and then turn it back. Another drawback - the music player does not get started automatically once the keypad has been turned around, but has to be selected from the menu instead.
Nokia 3250 is the first smartphone to feature the new 9.1 version of Symbian OS. It comes along with various innovative functions, but also with one very disappointing drawback: it is incompatible with older applications. I tried to install a few programs into the phone, but every time I was shown the same error message "Download not supported by the system".
Such a restriction complicates the situation a lot, as program manufacturers will now have to prepare new versions of their products, while users will spend unnecessary long time searching for these new versions, downloading them, pre-registering them etc. For this reason our team did not manage to install our picture saving program into Nokia 3250's Symbian, which led to the necessity to take pictures of phone's display by the use of a standard camera, just like we would do with a non-smart phone. Original graphic themes are not applicable, either.
Most images on the main display - time, date, day, operator's logo, and the battery and network indicators - have remained unchanged. In the bottom bar you will see the names of the two applications assigned to the buttons below the display (customizable). Font type and size are new.
Main display and Active stand-by mode
In the middle of the display you will find the common active stand-by display, which first appeared in Nokia 6681. Nokia 3250 features six icons for fast activation of frequently used programs instead of five. All icons are customizable in accordance with user's preference. Below this bar you will see the events of the day according to the calendar or the first event of the following day. The number of unaccomplished tasks, the name of the respective MP3 file (if played), as well as radio frequency/station (if active) are displayed in this area too. Besides, all blocks listed above are active, that is, by marking them you go directly to the calendar, the task manager, the MP3 player, the radio...
There is one trouble though. All moves in the active stand-by mode are made via the joystick, which restricts the functionality of its ways. They can no more be used for fast opening of frequently used applications. However, at the same time the stand-by mode can be deactivated. In this case Nokia 3250 behaves like older smartphones.
One more line
Main menu is displayed in a standard matrix of icons. Originally, all smartphones featured a 3 x 3 matrix. Nokia 3250 has four of them. Its matrix menu consists of 4 lines x 3 segments, which fit in seamlessly as display is big enough. Yet, let me remind you once again that a bit higher resolution would have made images look much more vivid and sharp.
Matrix format is not necessary
Menu can be displayed as a list of items too. Icons represent various applications and can get hidden into folders up to the first menu level. They can also be redistributed and adjusted to user's need so that frequently used applications appear in the upper line.
The outlook of the display can be modified by using graphic themes, which change not only wallpaper on the main display, but also the menus' background. They also modify icons, colors, symbols etc. There are several pre-installed themes in Nokia 3250. More themes can be obtained through downloads, purchase or simply by creating them in PC Suite.
All pre-installed themes
Generally, smartphones' control is logic. Yet, inexperienced users may have difficulties at the beginning. It may take them quite a long time to get to the main menu, for example. That is why Nokia has developed an application called Instructions, which should get started directly from the right context button (we cannot confirm this information as the device we tested had been used by somebody else before it got to our office) and explain the basic work steps with Nokia 3250.
Regrettably, Nokia 3250 shares one annoying feature with Nokia N70, that is, a single press on the red receiver button closes running applications instead of taking the user back to the main display. Such a function is extremely unpleasant as you may find yourself with a closed ICQ client in the middle of an important conversation, for example.
Nokia 3250 is notably slower than common mobile phones - a typical problem for all smartphones. The device needs about half a minute only to get started. No difference as to Nokia 6681, for example.
However, Nokia 3250 performed brilliantly in the Java speed tests. Applying a standard testing process and the JBenchmark application I got the following results:
- JBenchmark 1.0: 5897 points
- JBenchmark 2.0: 534 points
Comparison with Nokia N70:
- JBenchmark 1.0: 4534 points
- JBenchmark 2.0: 194 points
Good camera, bad macro
Let's approach to the built-in camera now and to the photo application alone, in particular. When you take pictures with Nokia 3250, hold it horizontally, just like you would do with a common digital camera. The viewfinder is big enough. It does not cut images, but shows them exactly the way they are going to appear in the final picture. In the upper left corner you will see a number indicating how many pictures can still be taken according to the free space both in the phone's memory and on the memory card.
Built-in camera lens
On the right you will find the zoom indicator. The camera is equipped with a full-function 4x digital zoom that works in 10 steps. The zoom does not crop images. Half zoom-in is quite efficient (see pictures). Images loses quality when the highest zoom-in degree is applied. That is why I recommend you first to take a standard picture and then cut it out in a special application for picture modifications supplied in the phone. Zoom is controlled by either the joystick, or the forward and backward buttons of the music player.
Without zoom • half-step zoom • full-degree zoom
Half-way zoom at a short distance
Exposition in Nokia 3250 is not possible to compensate, which is a pity. The sky was quite cloudy when I was taking the following sample photos, but even so the camera would over expose. I simply cannot get rid of the impression that pictures are misty, but I guess this goes on account of the color performance, as details are depicted well. As a matter of fact, much better than in Nokia 6280, for example.
More sample pictures in full resolution
White color balance is applied in four modes: automatic, sunny, fluorescent lamp and electric lamp. In the menu you will also find a self-release option that offers waiting time of 10, 20 and 30 seconds. Sequent capture is available too. As to the night mode, this rather increases pictures' noise level than make them brighter.
Standard mode • night mode
The miserable part here is text. It is not legible no matter what distance I capture it from. Following logic you can suppose the same evaluation hold true for any closely situated object. No doubt a macro mode would have come in handy. If you are a rather artistic type you may want to make use of other color tones like sepia, black & white, and negative.
Do not lose your time trying to capture close objects
Standard color tone • sepia • black and white • negative
The crank of the keypad is interesting. Due to it the phone offers a very comfortable hand-hold. Be careful however not to shade the camera lens with your fingers. Unfortunately, the lens is not protected against damage while inactive.
The camera menu is quite problematic to control as the joystick is difficult to access when the bottom part is rotated. On the top of it, it is pretty difficult to press. From the camera application you can go straight into the Gallery. Pictures are opened in a landscape mode so you will not have to turn the handset back to its standard orientation. Pictures are saved in JPG format. They have EXIF information and are generally about 500 KB begin size. Along with full resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels the camera offers two additional sizes of 1152 x 864 and 640 x 480 pixels respectively. The camera shoots videos in 3GP format and in resolution of 176 x 144 pixels as well, but these are suitable to use in multimedia messages at the utmost.
Video recording and modification options
Pretty good radio
The radio is "Visual", that is, it is able to receive data along with standard radio broadcast. It works with standard FM bands as well. The quality of the broadcast reception is surprisingly good. The radio is able to permanently memorize up to 20 stations. It searches signal lightning fast. A strong radio broadcast signal comes out almost immediately after one of the browsing buttons is pressed.
FM radio environment
Of course, sound is not as good as the one of music files, but its quality is satisfactory. The cable of the earphones also serves as antenna and is thus fundamental for work with radio. Nokia 3250 is able to catch radio signal through a 3.5mm jack too. Radio can be minimized. In such case broadcasted station or frequency (if the station has not been saved into phone's memory) is displayed in stand-by mode. I wish somebody finally implanted an equalizer in radio application. Nevertheless, Nokia 3250's radio is pretty good.
Standard earphones with a remote control on a cable
New Nokia 3250 is born to play music. Yet, not everything is as bright as the phone's pink covers. First, not even once did I manage to use the control buttons situated on the rotary segment of the phone. I have no other choice but to assume that this problem is caused by the firmware of the tested model. Let's hope that its final version will work seamlessly. Let me now plug the enclosed earphones into the handset.
Enclosed earphones HS-20 with a standard jack
They are equipped with a standard 3.5 mm jack connector and feature a double cable of ideal length. Use the sliding cursor to fix the point where the two cables are to meet. The construction of the plug-in earphones is identical to the one we spoke so positively about in the review on Sony Ericsson W800. They come with several extensions, which go deep into one's ears and fill the ear canal completely. There are rubber extensions of three different sizes enclosed in the phone's delivery pack. Unfortunately, Nokia 3250's earphones are rather second-rate. The bass elements are poor, while the middle frequencies are sharp. If you can, substitute them with earphones of your own.
Plug-ins with sound tunnel • extensions of various size
I used my