Nokia 3230

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Nokia 3230
  • Nokia 3230
  • Nokia 3230
  • Nokia 3230
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5


  • Attractive design, Good screen, Adequate feature set


  • Slow camera, Poor image quality, Small buttons

Bottom Line

The Nokia 3230 is a nice looking phone which is a little frustrating to use due to the tiny buttons and slower elements of the interface. Also, If you want something with a great camera, you should probably look elsewhere.

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We've had dozens of mobile phones go through our office and its no surprise, with IDC predicting their will be 19.2 million users this year and 100% market penetration by 2008. Generally our reviews focus on aspects such as design, ease of use, features and how quickly it annoys us. The Nokia 3230 has a great aesthetic and looks very sophisticated with a large display screen and attractive silver buttons - but a closer inspection reveals significant problems that did annoy us.

The 3230 has a large 176 x 208 TFT screen with support for 65K colours. A 65K screen isn't the best around but it certainly doesn't hamper the phone in any way. The operating system and relative menus are easy to use and tend to work at a reasonable speed. There are a few slow downs here and there, particularly when attempting to use the camera function, but generally the phone operates at reasonable efficiency. This speed of operation does not extend to the boot time though, which takes an average of 30-50 seconds - far too long for any mobile.

The buttons on this handset are deceptive. While they look great, they are hellishly annoying to use. In order to make the screen so big, the buttons seem to have been squashed down toward the bottom of the handset making them far too small and difficult to push. The centre directional toggle works very well but the buttons surrounding it are counterintuitive, often opening items you don't particularly want to use due to the oddly chosen features they are linked to.

The SMS functionality works perfectly and the T9 word completion functions are impeccable. When entering names in the contacts book, the auto-complete found every friend we entered, although we didn't really add any crazy names, to be fair.

The 3230 captures images with a 1.3 megapixel camera, and the quality is as you would expect. Unfortunately 1.3 megapixel cameras are average and the image quality of this phone is just as mediocre. To make matters worse though, it takes forever to save each image to the memory and the phone needs to be held still for a while after pressing the button to make sure the picture doesn't blur. The image captured is also not what you see when you press the button - instead the action about 1 second after you pressed it is captured. This means that a lovely picture of your girlfriend smiling comes out as a girlfriend looking away as she thinks you've already taken the photo.

The quality of the video capture is quite the same but is less appealing to use, as the frame rate of captured video is abysmal. The audio captured is also rather poor too but this seems to be consistent across most phones on the market. The 3230 also has rudimentary video editing capabilities with the ability to apply effects, but the number of people that would actually use this feature is questionable. If the video quality was better then maybe it would be useful - but editing together average video and adding poor effect doesn't tend to inspire anyone to sink the required time into actually doing it.

The phone also supports music play back via memory card and the audio quality is fairly good through the supplied hands free kit. The radio works rather well although it does have some trouble finding some popular radio stations from time to time.

The alarm feature on this phone is quite exceptional. It is loud, piercing and could wake the dead. It also has a snooze button but gives up trying to wake you after it's pressed more than five times. We don't understand why most phone companies don't make the alarm feature easier to access. Trying to find it among the menus is a hassle and the fact that the preset is erased after each time it goes off makes it rather annoying to set is again every night.

The 3230 supports Bluetooth and infrared connectivity and both work rather well. However, while it does support USB 2.0 connections, it does not do so out of the box and an $80 cable needs to be purchased separately in order to use it. This is quite unacceptable, especially considering the price of the cable which is rather excessive. In further bad news, the PC suite software does not come included in the package either but has to be downloaded from the Nokia website.

The battery life of the Nokia 3230 is rated at 4 hours talk time and 100-200 hours standby but we found that with light usage, it needed to be charged once every 36 hours or thereabouts. Overall, this is a nice looking phone which is a little frustrating to use due to the tiny buttons and slower elements of the interface. If you want something with a great camera, you should probably look elsewhere.

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