The NEC n21i is a clamshell with all the modern features of a regular mobile phone, plus an i-Mode feature. i-Mode is a proprietary platform that has a rave following in Japan, and is finding some following in a few European states. It allows you to receive and send email via an operator-provided account, as well as visit specially-formatted Web pages. Sorry, but you cannot visit any WAP pages on this thing. NEC db7000 is the twin brother to the n21i. The difference: db7000 has a WAP (not i-Mode) browser, and so is more suitable to our technology.

NEC N21i

Form Factor
Externally this phone is a little bigger than the average, but that also allows you to have a good grip on it. It is beautiful to look at and comfortable in your hands (if you do not have tiny fingers, I guess)

Ah-ha! This display rocks in my books. Aside the fact that it supports 256 colours, you can view up to 10 lines of a text message on it. All through the time I used it, there was no text message I composed or sent that exceeded the screen size.

The menu makes use of animated icons, and you can set one of a couple of built-in wallpaper, or download others.

The keypad has large keys, and this also won me over. It was very comfortable typing on the keypad. Large keys mean less mistakes in tapping the wrong key, especially if you are a fast texter.

Battery Life
This is the Archilles’ Heel of this phone. The large screen drains the battery fast. All through the time I had the phone, a full charge never lasted beyond 24 hours. I had to recharge every day – sometimes twice a day! Arrrgh.

According to NEC, you can purchase a data cable for PC connectivity. No Infra-red. No Bluetooth.

Audio Quality
Audio quality on this piece is fine. You don’t get distortions. You hear your caller well, and you are heard clearly on the other side too.

Signal Reception
The NEC n21i performed well here. At locations other phones I have used could not so much as register on the network, it registered promptly, and that got me!. Where it loses a signal, it is fast in reconnecting.

This phone has one of the finest management of SMS I have seen on a phone. The predictive text input feature works beautifully well. There is an SMS redial list available, so you do not have to get back to the phonebook to fetch the number you send too regularly (just like the common call redial list).

Other features
A calendar. To do list. Calculator (one of the best I’ve seen on a mobile). Currency converter.

I love this phone! If you ask me, I prefer the db7000, as i-Mode is no way heading in this direction in another 2000 years :).

But sentiments apart, in the final analysis, the short battery times, lack of GPRS/MMS, and the lack of an infra-red port put together are unforgivable in my books.

The Nokia 3410 is one budget little phone young people will enjoy using. It holds a unique place in my annals in the sense that it was the first java-enabled phone I ever used. Actually, it was the first truly fun phone I ever used. Thankfully, most business phones today include some fun factor, so the busy executive can unwind when he needs to.

Nokia 3410

Form Factor
The 3410 is small enough to fit into your shirt or trouser pocket. The form factor is okay, but nothing outstanding.

The 3410 comes with a monochrome/grayscale screen that allows you to read not more than 4 lines of text. Pretty much after the lineage of the successful 3310.

However, the keypad is nowhere near as good as that of the 3310. I submit that the Nokia 3310/3330 has one of the best keypads I have ever used on a phone. Unfortunately, the keys of the 3410 are not of the excellent hard and tactile plastic that won me over on the 3310. That does not mean that they do not work fine. As a matter of fact, they do. They get the job done.

Battery Performance
2 to 3 days on a full charge with the way I use phones. Good enough.

There are no connection slots on this phone. That’s typical Nokia stuff. All their low-end phones have no built-in connectivity hardware.

WAP Browser
WAP worked flawlessly on this set. One of the sites I checked out was Club Nokia, from where I downloaded some pictures and a different version of the game PinBall.

Mobile Java
The phone comes with some games, and I particularly enjoyed the java game Munkiki. You control a monkey who has to find pieces of treasure on an isolated platform made of movable building blocks in the middle of the ocean. the game utilizes 3-dimensional graphics, plus sounds, and is much fun to play.

But the beauty of java is that you do not have to make do with what comes with the phone. So, I simply downloaded other java games and applications via WAP. I downloaded an Email viewer. After installing it, all I had to do to check my mails was type in my email username and password, click ‘check mail’, and wait. The mail viewer retrieves all new mail on my server for me to read. Oh, java… oh java. Mobile java turns your phone into a PC, …almost. There were several other applications I downloaded and put to use on this small, insignificant-looking phone.

I had fun on the 3410, it being my first java-enabled phone. Since then it has been difficult to feel comfortable with any phone if its not java-enabled (or have any other means of customising it with applications). Small and compact, affordable, and though without many features, with java you can download and install just about anything you need to use. Thumbs up, Nokia.