- Great range of applications, including digital stills and video capture
- removable storage
- usable menu structure.
- Relatively bulky
- no USB connection
- memory card located under battery
- circular keypad makes for awkward SMS entry.
Nokia's tri-band, GPRS- and Bluetooth-equipped 3650 succeeds the innovative 7650. Its most visible feature is a circular keypad -- a stylistic departure that could have limited appeal. However, the 3650's most popular feature will undoubtedly be its stills and video multimedia messaging capability.
Design & features
Nokia’s designers have taken a bold step with the Symbian-based 3650, hoping that it will appeal to buyers seeking advanced applications in an unusual form factor. Nokia isn’t the only manufacturer to offer camera phones with a circular keypad, as Siemens’ new MC60 offers a different interpretation on the circular theme. Aside from the keypad, the most noteworthy feature is the VGA-resolution camera on the back, which supports both still and video image capture. The 128-by-96-pixel video is limited to approximately 15 seconds and a file size of 96KB. In our tests, video recording lasted a minimum of 11 seconds and a maximum of 18 seconds. The 4,096-colour screen displays the still and video images well enough for MMS, but image quality is distinctly fuzzy. Video is captured in MPEG-4 format, and there’s a built in a RealOne player. To configure the video recorder application for audio you have go to Nokia’s site and download the 7.49MB Nokia 3650 Multimedia Player exe file. Note that the 3650 connects to your PC either through infrared or Bluetooth: there’s no USB cable connection, which would have been useful. Build quality is a bit wobbly: the rear ‘Xpress-on’ cover housing the battery, SIM card and 16MB MMC card feels less than secure. The alphanumeric buttons on the circular keypad are backlit in blue and have a sizeable gap between them, and also wobble; however, a good four-way navigation button with centre click and a usefully located lower central main menu button help to ameliorate the awkward design. By today’s standards the 3650 is bulky and heavy at 57mm by 130mm by 26mm and 130g. It’ll certainly make its presence felt in your pocket.
In use, the first thing you notice is the time it takes to power up -- about 30 seconds all told, if you use a password. Access to all applications, other than direct dialling or the two user-defined soft-key applications, is via the lower central button within the ring of numbers. You can choose either grid view, which stacks the menu options three to a line, or list view with one per line. Texting one-handed with the 3650 will be challenging for anything other than the shortest of messages, unless you’re blessed with ultra-nimble thumbs. The device feels top heavy, so you need to balance the phone as well as bend your thumb somewhat unnaturally. Despite these shortcomings, you do adapt quickly to the circular design. When capturing still images, your options are limited to Standard format, Portrait (which crops the sides) and Night for lower light levels -- however, with no flash don’t expect too much. Video operation is relatively fast and effective, with no lengthy lag thanks to the 3650’s ARM processor. There’s 3.4MB of internal memory for phone numbers, messages and photos plus 16MB on the external MMC card, so you shouldn’t run out of storage. You can easily associate images with your contacts, the relevant picture appearing when you receive a call. You can play captured video in the built-in video application or in the bundled RealOne player, which can also be used for playing downloaded video clips. Playback via RealOne player is of a higher quality. Battery life is claimed to be 200 hours of standby time and up to 4 hours of talk time. In our tests, there was still plenty of juice left in the Li-ion battery after a couple of days’ heavy use of all applications. The Bluetooth application worked smoothly when paired with Nokia’s Wireless Car Kit: after the initial setup, the 3650 was automatically recognised and could then be used hands-free without any further configuration.
The 3650 stands out as a large mobile in a world of shrinking handsets. Keen video MMS users may not mind, but the 3650 could be too chunky for many regular users, and the circular keypad may also deter. However, this phone scores highly thanks to its outstanding functionality, and it’s generally a pleasure to use.