“Choice” is what Nokia phones are all about, considering the number of different models that the company has released in the past few months. The 3000-series has just received another new member - the 3610, which comes with a list of improvements on both inside and outside. Are they worth considering? For sure! :)
So what’s good and bad about this model? On the outside, the 3610 has been given a new translucent Xpress-on cover design. The 3610 is also the first phone in its series to be given a white backlight and to use the BLB-2 battery (previous 3000-series phones use the BLC-series batteries, which are slightly larger in width). Feature-wise, the phone is given a similar feature set as the 3350 but with improved support for screen savers.
“Refreshing look” would definitely be the best way to put the 3610. The translucent covers, which come protected with clear stickers on both front and back covers, definitely give this phone a new feel. Removing the Xpress-on covers are easier than ever - by simply pushing down on the respective tab at the top of the phone and lifting the cover off from its sides. The set of white backlights illuminate both the screen and keypad areas - providing more-than-sufficient lighting through the front cover.
By using the smaller BLB-2 type lithium battery (which allows the phone to be narrower), this allows the reduction in both the phone’s length and width - being similar to those on an 8310. Thickness of the phone is retained at around 21mm - similar to its other 3000-series predecessors. Don’t mind the thickness though - as the phone was actually quite nice to hold in the hand.
User Interface (UI)
A reduction in the phone’s size means other things must come down in size as well. The screen size may have shrunk down, but the actual resolution of the screen has become finer - which means a user will get the same amount of information on the screen as on previous 3000-series phones. Menus and usability are similar to the 3350, which means the use of two soft keys and answer/reject buttons (no more Navi-key).
The keys on the numeric keypad are quite closely spaced on a vertical axis, but sufficient gap space is provided horizontally (around 2mm). Does this make it difficult to type? Not really, because each key on the numeric keypad is designed with a slant allowing your thumbs to correctly identify each key without any sort of ambiguity. Smart :)
Making and receiving calls
One possible reason for ridding the Navi-key interface could be the difficulty in managing in-call features - such as hold and mute. While the left soft key allows a list of options to be brought up during calls, the other provides frequently-used functions relevant for the current call scenario (for example, “HOLD” is displayed during one call, “SWAP” when two calls are being managed, and “UNMUTE” after a call is muted by the user).
The standard headset and power socket interface (at the base of the phone) allows for the use of Nokia headsets, car kit and Music Player accessories.
The 3610 offers several messaging options - standard SMS messages with the possibility of writing up to 459 characters (nearly the length of three standard messages), picture messages offering more than just words, and an ICQ-like messaging interface called “SMS Chat”.
In addition, the 3610 is the first phone in the world to offer Hindi input - which should make a lot of people in India happy as they will now be able to use their own language for messages instead of English (phones with Hindi input ability may only be available for the India market only).
The BLB-2 battery provided with the sales package gave the 3610 an average on-time of around 2-3 days after several charges. I found the phone did slightly less than other 3000-series phones, such as the 3315 and 3350 - which is due to the lower capacity of the BLB-2 batteries (750 mAh versus 825-950 mAh). Talk time was around two hours maximum in total.