Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Unique Design, Improved Interface, Large Keypad.
- Oddly Shaped, Display, Camera, Battery Life.
The N343i is an average handset which has a unique style and design. It doesn't break any new ground, but at a competitive price it may be an option for low end users.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
The NEC N343i is a mobile phone with iPod-like styling that includes a large keypad and support for Telstra's i-Mode service. Retailing at a very competitive price, the N343i is a step in the right direction compared to previous NEC models, headed by a much improved user interface.
The N343i features a soft white colour scheme. Its unique keypad is most definitely the standout. The keys are very large and take up the entire width of the bottom half of the handset. There is no space between keys; the edges line up and these extend right to the perimeter of the unit. The keys have a solid feel and only require a slight press to activate so they are fairly comfortable. Their soft blue backlight is also a nice touch and adds to the overall design of the unit.
The N343i is a pretty odd shape for a mobile phone; it's long, yet slim in width and very rectangular looking. The edges are very flat and direct, rather than being shaped or curved. The rear of the handset is somewhat unattractive though. The colour of the back doesn't match the battery compartment slider and this creates an unattractive contrast.
Display and User Interface
The N343i's 65k display is a disappointment and its quality is poor for a current handset. Measuring just 1.8 inches, it's also very small and could have easily been made larger thanks to plenty of unoccupied real estate surrounding it. Users will be pleased to know that the NEC interface has improved from previous models, but it still isn't perfect. The standby screen also seems cluttered and squashed.
The menu itself is much improved with animated pictures and graphics representing each selection. Menu items can be quickly entered using keypad shortcuts. For example, Messages is the second menu item and this can be entered by pressing '2'. Selecting a menu item brings up a simple list format where you scroll using the navigational pad. It's pretty user friendly on the whole although its drawback is speed. The interface isn't the quickest and you'll find the menu isn't able to keep up with your keystrokes, especially during messaging.
The N343i is exclusive to Telstra and is i-Mode enabled. Telstra also includes the PocketNews service which can keep you up to date with the latest news, finance, weather and sport. PIM Features include an organiser, clock, scheduler, alarm, calculator and a voice memo function. The N343i also has Java support. Standard SMS, MMS and email messaging are available and of course, predictive text input (T9) is included.
The N343i also includes a VGA (640x480) camera with 4x digital zoom. The quality of images produced is pretty poor, but this is to be expected from a camera with such low resolution. The camera has plenty of options and settings to tweak with though; a Self-Timer, Flicker Control, Night Mode (Twilight) and Sepia, Monochrome and Bluish effects among them. To store your photos the N343i has just 4.7MB of internal memory and there is no extra storage available. PC connectivity is via USB, and NEC includes a cable in the package.
Battery life is below average, with just 150 hours of standby time and a mere 150 minutes of talk time. We had to recharge the phone every second night after minimal use, which isn't ideal.
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