Bye Bye Charlie! Hello 3230!


So I'm returning the Nokia 6630 (code name Charlie) and my 7610 that Christian and Charlie from Nokia so graciously lent me. I've held on to them for long enough. But of course I'm not going to be without a killer Series 60 phone, so yesterday I looked up the prices on eBay and found a guy in Mountain View selling a spankin' new Nokia 3230 for $400 and I jumped on it - he dropped it off today. Awesome.

Believe it or not, I actually chose the 3230 over the 6680. Both are available, and though there was definitely a price difference (with the 6680 being double the price), that wasn't my main thought. I decided I wanted to try a lighter, slimmer mid-level phone and the 3230 is it. Once I tried Dave's a week or so ago, I decided I definitely had to have one of my own. It's a slick little device, though it's definitely going to have a slower network speed since it's just an EDGE Class 5 device, not a class 10 like Charlie. But honestly, I grokked the power of a fast network connection with Charlie over the past few months, now I want to force myself back to the "real world" a bit, and see if the stuff I'm developing works as well on a slower connection (without being a masochist and going all the way back to vanilla GPRS. ;-) ).

I also chose this phone because I think that it'll be available here in the U.S. sooner and it will be nice to have a phone that I can evangelize a bit and recommend people buy. The 6630 is great, but it'll never be here in the U.S. So I can't talk about how great the phone is and tell them to run off to their nearest GSM store and buy one. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that in a few months for this phone here in the U.S.

EBay is actually a nice predictor of availability of the various models. First, you can see immediately when the phones are available - if they are, even in some Cantonese version from Hong Kong, one will be for sale online. Then you can judge how many are in the pipeline by their prices. The 3230 was stable around $385-$400. I went for the fastest route and paid a few dollars more (I would've spent that in shipping anyways).

Over two years ago, I went nuts over the 3650, and predicted a Palm V like success in terms of a product with iconic success, etc. That's before I learned that cycle times for mobiles are so fast that that sort of thing doesn't really happen. As soon as a phone gets to huge numbers and is loved by all, it's soon outdated and in need of refreshing. Though I think this will change as the market matures and standardizes - we're not there yet. Everyone is still looking for the perfect mobile form factor and design.

This phone could do much of what I was hoping for years ago for the 3650. If it's sold at a resonable price point and promoted world wide by Nokia, it could become an iconic representation of the Series 60 platform - moreso than the higher end 6680 series. It's got the power, and now the styling (it's a pretty sweet phone) to make people ooh and ahh. It's missing some big things (like a regular audio jack and SD Card support) but it could be just good enough to hit a sweet spot in power, versatility, quality and price.


I have to say that after more than two years of owning Series 60 phones exclusively, I'm dissapointed there's not more evolution in the standard. The progress is just too slow. Look at the results of this user survey:

Only 7% of T-Mobile Nokia 3660 users were able to complete tasks that required browsing for, purchasing, downloading, and installing wallpaper to the phone. Only 23% of Cingular Nokia 6620 users were able to browse, purchase, download, and install ring tones to the phone. These figures contrast with a 100% success rate for ring tone browsing, purchase, download, and installation on the Cingular LG L1400 and 89% success for wallpaper browsing, purchase, download, and installation on the T-Mobile Motorola v600 phone.

I'd love to say that this was a flawed study, but I've seen these sorts of struggles with my very own eyes. The S60 user interface needs another rev in usability, yet the latest phones have only seen incremental improvements in the interface. It wouldn't take more than just some simple changes, honestly - the problems I've seen more than anything is where people get "lost" in the UI becuase they've pressed the menu button, etc. This could easily be corrected I think by narrowing some of the options the S60 interface gives the user - more like the very, very limited choices on most CDMA or basic phones like the Series 40.

While I'm complaining a bit, let me say that the struggle to import everything into my new phone is going to be painful. I need to request new IDs for apps that are tied to my IMEI number and syncing is still a bitch. Why aren't contacts stored on the damn memory card so I can just move the SIM and Memory card and be done? Urgh. I guess they assume that 3230 users won't be transfering from other S60 phones as the transfer app that was on the 6630 doesn't exist on this phone. Great. This probably isn't as much of a bitch for most people becuase they don't do it every 4 months, but this is my eighth Series 60 phone: 7650, 3650, 6600, 7610, N-Gage, 6620, 6630 and now the 3230, so it's getting old. You'd figure Nokia would want to *promote* this sort of churn and make it easy, no?

I am getting a bit tired of the churn... Will someone make the perfect phone soon please? Something that'll last me, say, the next three years or so? Great, thanks!



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