Nokia 3230 review: Smartphone for the masses

Ivo Mareček, 19 March 2005.

Nokia 3230 is basically the first smartphone, which could be considered a middle class one. Nevertheless, it has pretty rich functional equipment: it supports EDGE, Bluetooth, Push to talk and has megapixel camera and radio. As usually, we have tested the phone thoroughly and prepared a detailed review for you.

Key benefits

  • Quick mobile data: GPRS class 10, EDGE class 5
  • 1.3 MP camera
  • RS-MMC memory card slot, which is replaceable without having to switch off the phone
  • Built-in radio
  • Image editor
  • Setting Wizard program for quick setting of data transfers, MMS and emails
  • High quality construction

Main drawbacks

  • Use of MMC card of a standard size not possible
  • The keys are sometimes much too rigid
  • The voice memo is limited to minute-long records only
  • Intermittent problems with the earphones connection

Nokia 3230 is positioned into the "middle class" category. When I was using it, however, I did not notice almost any differences from the mobile phones of a higher class. The main reason is that Nokia 3230 uses the Symbian Series 60 OS, which is nearly identical for most of the mobile phones, offering the same functions every time.

Since any smartphone is able to offer much more options that the usual phones, I consider it rather unnecessary to describe the individual pros and cons of the smart phones here.

Straight off at the beginning, we should probably explain this article's title. How come that we classify the Nokia 3230, whose initial price starts at almost 400 Euros, as a mass phone, since nowadays it is easily possible to buy a smartphone at half this price? Well, any direct comparing between the new coming phones and the one-year old ones just does not make sense, even if they offer basically the same functional features. If we compare the prices of the mobile phones when first launched on the market, Nokia 3230 turns out to be really the cheapest one. By this moment, not a single smartphone has been introduced at a lower price.

The well known Symbian

Although a initially we expected Nokia 3230 to be equipped with the latest operational system Symbian OS 8.0, our expectations did not come true. The manufacturer has built in it the older the 7.0 version.

For our testing process we used a product with the 3.0505.2 firmware version from February 19th this year, RM-51. When I unpacked the box I was slightly surprised by the absence of a software CD, which Nokia often delivers together with its mobile phones. Not even has the manufacturer mentioned a possible CD in the standard equipment of the phone on Nokia's official web-site.

Design: does it look familiar?

As I was speculating on how the ideal telephone should look like, various combinations occurred to me. One of them was the following: combination of the design of the newest Sony Ericsson models and the operational system of a classic Symbian. That is exactly what Nokia 3230 comes to offer. Even though I prefer to avoid any possible comparisons with SE, there are certain similarities one cannot overlook - especially as far as the keypad is concerned.

Nokia 3230. Click to zoom Nokia 3230. Click to zoom Nokia 3230. Click to zoom
The design of the phone is a success indeed

The phone is going to be offered in two color versions: black and wine red. Looking for replaceable covers, however, turned out to be an effort in vain. The front grill is firmly screwed onto the device. Hence neither the keypad, nor the display can be reached by the user.

Construction: solid

Already the usage of non-replaceable covers comes to suggest that the construction should be good; and it is. The phone is really very compact and solid. During the whole testing period its covers did not utter a single creak when normally used. The very only hint of a creaky sound came out when I was trying to remove the back cover by forcing it. The camera lens has been very well allocated as well. The lens is embedded in the top part of the back cover, so it does not stick out from the phone's surface by even a millimeter.

Nokia 3230. Click to zoom Nokia 3230. Click to zoom Nokia 3230. Click to zoom
A view from the back • a comparison with a card • the card and the battery when removed

I do not recommend you to unnecessarily remove the back cover. The reason is that the phone cracks quite loudly every time it gets opened and I can assure you that within the first few moments this will give you the heebie-jeebies. If it is really inevitable, then let me give you a tip. Press onto the back cover in the area below the camera lens. Just under it there is a hollow, in which the memory card is situated, so the opening goes more smoothly. Yet, do not expect the cover to ease off and open at the very first try.

Nokia 3230. Click to zoom Nokia 3230. Click to zoom Nokia 3230. Click to zoom
Inserting the SIM card • memory card slot

After having removed the cover the only thing to be seen are the battery and the memory card slot. In order to place the SIM card into the phone you need to insert it under the above mentioned slot. As for the memory card, it is possible to remove even when the phone is switched on. The device will simply give you a notice that the card is going to be removed and that all applications are going to be closed. However, here is where I ran into problems for the telephone once or twice notified me of the absence of the SIM card and restarted itself.

Nokia 3230. Click to zoom The battery and the card slot

The battery BL-5B is of the Li-Ion type and has a capacity of 760 mAh. On its surface you can see the reserved hologram of Nokia Company, which is to prove the device originality. If you cannot see it, the battery in front of you is simply not an original Nokia one. According to the official statements given by the manufacturer the battery is to support up to 4 hours of continuous calls and up to 150 hours stand-by.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous
  • 26 Mar 2024
  • D7T

Does it support 4g?

  • Biswajit76
  • 03 Nov 2018
  • PEW

Once upon a time I had use it. It was very good phone 3230.

  • mic
  • 18 Apr 2018
  • IW@

Just factory reset the phone. I don't know if it works in this model; Press the "3", "Asterisk", "end key" and "the power button" BEFORE the phone says "NOKIA". But this will wipe your PHONE MEMORY. I recommend to put your stuff onto the memory card...