NEC N21i review: The Gem

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)

Display
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.

Keypad
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.

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Connections
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.

SMS
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.

Conclusion
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.

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

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