Saturday, May 03, 2008

Nokia 3555 (T-Mobile) Review

I'd have to admit that I was surprised to be reviewing this phone. I've since moved away from Nokia's mainstream phone operating system (S40) to phones with more advanced smart phone operating systems such as S60. But here I am holding my old reliable 6230b for roaming in the US, one of Nokia's early flip the Nokia 6102, and a new 3555b. The firmware on my 3555b is V 05.07 (the initial production firmware) and runs S40 5th edition. The box contains the phone, AC-3U charger, HS-40 mono headset, BL-5C: Extended 850 mAh battery.

Quick facts:
Name: Nokia 3555b
Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA 1700
Weight: 94 g
Dimensions: 100 x 44 x 21 mm
Battery life (stand by): up to 660 hours (GSM)
Battery life (talk): up to 204 minutes (GSM)

My phone was manufactured in: (your phone's country of manufacture could vary) Mexico.

Nokia 3555 box:

Nokia 3555 un-boxing:

With Nokia's market share in North America dropping for the last couple quarters (dropped more than 23% in 2007), Nokia will need to design more phones geared to the taste of North Americans. One of these efforts is the Nokia 3555b which comes in a flip format (very popular in North America and less so for the rest of the world) and a very smooth stylish exterior. This is a good start for my review so let's see how the Nokia 3555b stacks against Nokia's earlier flip design and older S40.


On the right of the phone are the charger and 2.5mm headset holes and on the left are the volume rocker and a camera button.


The Nokia 3555b is about the same dimensions as my 6230b. It actually looks like a thicker Motorola KRZR. The 3555 feels light but from the specs it should be heavier. The 3555 case does not creak anywhere open or closed and this includes the plastic around the display, hinge, and plastic surrounding the keys. The case has little to no flex. This phone is solid. Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and even Nokia's own N-series can take cues from this phone.

Everyone I've shown the 3555 to has liked the look of the phone. Some of them have asked about other colors like red. Placing the 3555 beside the Nokia 6102 and you'll see a dramatic improvement to design. By placing the 3555 by the Motorola RAZR and you see some design resemblance such as the "lip" at the bottom of the phone that houses the antenna.



Nokia has really put together a handsome phone. I really liked the chrome accents with the blue of the phone. The blue matched the blue monochrome exterior screen! The smooth shape and narrow body of the 355 fit the hand really well.

The keypad light is very bright. No complaints about it.

The SIM mechanism is exactly like the one found in the 6682, which I love.

The screen is small and resolution is low at 128 x 160 (1.8 inches) and can display up to 262,144 (18-bit) colors. There's no light sensor to vary the brightness of the screen.

Images and icons on the phone appear very pixilated because of the low resolution.

The main drawback to the main screen is the subtle high pitched buzz. It's not noticable by everyone and all screens emit some kind of buzz. Check if it bothers you by opening the phone and putting it against your ear.

The external screen is small, monochrome in blue, and has a low resolution of 65 x 98 pixels:

It displays data in landscape so you have to turn your phone side ways to read it. You can't change the orientation to portrait.

It's a shame the external screen also dims out to the level you can't read it (even after turning off Sleep Mode and Screen saver in Settings / Mini Display):

The good thing is that you can hit the volume keys on the side of the phone to wake the display. But it's a little slow refreshing the screen so you're left waiting for the time to appear.

The keys are spaced out well for mid-sized fingers. The traditional styled keys are used for the number pad so there is a gap between each number. I think it's a lot better for dialing but it looks a bit old. I'm also glad Nokia didn't use a ring styled D-pad for this phone as they're so narrow and difficult to use.

The D-pad is raised slightly higher than the rest of the keys (like the soft keys) with it concave at the center so the center button is higher than the D-pad while at the same height as the soft keys. This makes it easy to distinguish the D-pad and center key. The number pad, soft keys, and call buttons are darker grey and have a soft rubber feel to them and really help the keys stand out from the smooth plastic of the case and the d-pad. Without the difference in texture, it would be really hard to feel for the number keys as they're flush with the case. There is good tactile feedback from all keys.

So how is the 3555 keypad for gaming? The 3555 is comfortable playing the included Pac Man and Tetris with a large D-pad and the right amount of feedback. It's not as precise as a Nintendo DS control pad but there aren't many Java games out there that need that kind of precision.

From a phone perspective, you can easily use the 3555 with one hand both flipping it open and using it.

The music player can continue playing while the phone is closed but there are no controls that can stop or skip songs while the phone is closed.

General menu navigation was smooth and very snappy. There was no perceived lag.

Default T-mobile screen (active standby is off by default):

After some configuration, you can switch to a Nokia theme and turn on active standby:

The active standby feature allows you to display 3 items from the following: Calendar, Countdown timer, General Indicators, Music Player, My note, and Short cut bar. You cannot choose the same item type twice; for example you can't have two sections for countdown timer. I have chosen short cut, music player, and calendar above. Within the short cut bar you can choose from a long list of core phone functions like profiles or camera but added Java applications are not available options.

T-mobile icons:

The icons are pastel in color, don’t contrast well with light backgrounds, and can't be changed easily with a theme.

With the introduction of S40 5th edition, Nokia phones have become very customizable but with that, Nokia phones are creeping towards being complicated and menus are getting very deep.

For example, to access the calculator, if you don't have it as a short cut, it's in Menu/Fun&Apps/Organizer. It takes a bit of time to get use to it. With the low resolution of the display, only 3 menu items are shown at a time so you'll need to do a lot of scrolling. There are 14 groupings in Settings.

Interesting things you can customize on the 3555 is phone behavior when the phone is opened/closed, timed profiles, profile to use when connected to a charger, and over the air software update.

Menu Structure:
-- Voice Notes
-- Log
---- Call Log
---- Missed calls
---- Received calls
---- Dialed numbers
---- Message recipients
---- Clear log lists
---- Call timers
---- Packet data counter
---- Packet data conn. timer
---- Message log
---- Sync Log
-- t-zones
---- t-zones (online)
---- Bookmarks
---- Last Web Address
---- t-zones inbox
---- Settings
---- Go to address
---- Clear the cache
-- IM & E-mail
---- Instant messages (t-mobile app and online)
---- E-mail (t-mobile app and online)
-- Messaging
---- Create message
---- Inbox
---- Drafts
---- Outbox
---- Sent items
---- Saved items, Delivery reports, Voice mail, Service commands, Delete messages, Message settings
-- Fun & Apps
---- Gallery
------ My Album
------ myFaces Icons (online)
------ Images
------ Voice Clips
------ Music Clips
------ Themes
------ Graphics
------ Tones
------ Recordings
------ Receiv. Files
---- Games & Apps
------ Games (online)
------ Games
-------- PAC-MAN and Ms. PAC-MAN DEMO
-------- Petz Demo
-------- Tetris
-------- 5th Grader
------ Collection
-------- World clock
------ Media
-------- Camera
-------- Video
-------- Music Player
-------- Recorder
-------- Equalizer
-------- Stereo wider
------ Organizer
-------- Alarm clock
-------- Calendar
-------- To-do list
-------- Notes
-------- Synchronization
-------- Calendar
-------- Timer
-------- Stopwatch
-- Help (online)
-- Phonebook
---- Names
---- Synchonize all
---- Settings
---- Groups
---- 1-touch dialing
---- My numbers
---- Delete all contacts
---- Move contacts
---- Copy contacts
-- Settings
---- Profiles
---- Themes
---- Tones
---- Main Display
---- Mini Display
---- Date and time
---- My shortcuts
---- Connectivity
---- Synchronization
---- Call
---- Phone
---- Enchancements
---- Configuration
---- Security
---- Restore Settings

The Nokia 3555 didn't come with Snakes. That is just wrong. All the included games are demos like Pac Man and Tetris. Also included are T-Mobile's suite of online apps such as t-zones, Instant messages, E-mail (there is no native S40 e-mail client on the 3555), and myFaces Icons

There is no task switching key as found in Sony Ericson’s and Nokia's S60 operating system so there's a limited amount of multi-tasking possible.

Music Player
The built-in music player is native to S40 and can run in the background and while the phone is closed. Too bad there are no external keys to control stop or skip songs in the music player.

The 3555 doesn't support 3.5mm headsets but only 2.5mm headsets so you're quite limited for choices.

Java applications open fairly quickly with a little load time when opening and closing. Within the application, the response is snappy with no lag like old implementations of Java. It's become so fast that some included applications that use to be native are now implemented with Java like the calculator:

You can't leave a Java application without closing so this limits you to one Java application open at a time.

Note: Java applications no longer start with a display of the Java logo.

Sim-less Mode
The Nokia 3555 already has flight mode where it will function with the antenna deactivated (Settings/Profiles and choose Flight). The 3555 goes one further and allows you to operate the phone, with the antenna deactivated as well, without the sim-card!

You can connect the 3555 to your computer using Bluetooth or USB data cable (not included but compatible with CA-101). You can install Nokia PC Suite to synchronize the 3555 with your computer. By default the 3555 USB data cable is set to Music Sync mode when you connect it so you need to change the settings at Settings/Connectivity/USB data cable.

You can pair devices, you can send images/music files/video clips/themes and virtually any content via Bluetooth to another device. Each time you want to connect to another device, the 3555 needs to scan for devices even if you've previously connected with the device (this gets annoying if you Bluetooth a lot as you need to wait for the search to finish). If your BT is off you can still send media, the phone prompts you to turn on BT and will automatically turn off BT when the transfer is done. So if S40 can automatically turn off BT, why can't S60 do the same?

Sending files occur in the foreground (cannot multi-task) but receiving files occur in the background so you can multi-task during this time.

Pairing the 3555 with a PC gives you these features in the included Bluetooth profiles:
Dial up networking
HS Audio gateway
OBEX Object Push
OBEX File Transfer
Serial Port
Network Access Point Service

There are not as many profiles as on Sony Ericsson phones but its good enough for most people. I paired the 3555 to my laptop and N82 with no problems.


Sound Quality
The outgoing sound quality was loud and clear. The receiver had no complaints about sound quality.

Incoming sound quality is loud and clear. It is a lot louder than my N82. The main problem is that there was a bit of static in the background and the main screen has a subtle high pitched buzz to it but it's not always noticable.

You can set your own MP3 as a ring tone too.

The speakerphone works well on the 3555. Voices come out clear. Playing music via the speakerphone was a different experience with low bass coming out with a lot of static and distorted. High tones were not affected.

Headset use
I haven't tested this.

Multimedia Features

The 3555 has a VGA (480x640 pixel) camera. It's there only so it can say it has a camera.

Without a forward facing camera and no firmware support, the 3555 cannot make video calls even if it has WCDMA support.

The 3555 is the best VGA camera phone I have right now as you can see from the comparison to my best VGA camera phone, the 6230. Surprisingly, the 3555 stores pictures taken in the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) format but the only EXIF data stored are width, height, bit depth, equipment make, model, firmware, and Color Representation.

There are 2 picture sizes

Image Quality

Camera Sounds
On/Off (it really turns the phone silent unlike most S60 cameras)

Image Sequence
This mode takes a sequence of photos with the camera. I noticed it take 8 pictures. There is an animated icon on the screen while the image preview on the screen doesn't change making it look like the phone is "hung".

normal, sepia, grayscale, negative

White Balance
Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Horizon

Bright Desk

Nokia 3555

Nokia 6230

The 3555 produces a sharper but noisier photo compared to the 6230.

Night Mode
There is no night mode, but it's interesting to see how normal mode in 3555 fares against the night mode from the 6230b. These photos were taken with very little external light:


6230b with night mode:

The 3555 produces a much more blurry photo compared to having light and lots of noise is present. The 6230's night mode brightens up the photo, has less noise, but is more blurry. The 3555 is a pretty decent camera for a VGA.

The 3555 also records video. You can record directly to the memory card and length of the movie is only bound by the amount of free space available.

Video clip quality:

Video Resolution:

The resolution is really low and isn't adequate for anything useful. Even YouTube supports a higher resolution (320x240).

External Memory
No memory card is included but the 3555 supports micro SDs. The memory card lies under the battery so you can't hot swap the memory card.

I got a battery warning after 1h talk in 1.5 days with no texting and no web browsing. The battery took 1 to 2 hours to charge from 1 bar with the included AC-3U. It's the same battery as some older Nokia phones like the 6230:

Build quality...........10
Features for $.........6 (for T-mobile, you can get the more capable Nokia 6263 for free too), 3 ($89 on Rogers, you can get a much more capable Sony Ericsson W810i or Motorola K1 KRZR for the same price or less)
Battery life.............5


*Attractive exterior design
*loud speaker
*More advanced S40 5th edition operating system
*Great build quality
*Fast menu navigation
*Free on T-Mobile
*Support for T-Mobile's 3G network
*Support for various IM and e-mail services like MSN and gmail

*Very small screen
*Complicated menu system
*External screen dims out becoming unreadable
*Main screen emits a subtle high pitched buzz
*High price on Rogers and high MSRP price compared to other phones
*No external music keys
*No video calling support
*no native e-mail client
*No 3.5mm headset jack

Overall the Nokia 3555 a great low to mid-ranged phone with a very compelling design and great build quality. It offers a very comfortable keypad with no gimicks. It may not shine in the imaging or music departments but it provides great outgoing and incoming call qualities.


Zankhana said...

i have the nokia 3555b from t-mobile and i cant get my songs to download onto the phone and they didnt give me a usb cable do u no how i can do this?

Antonio said...

Very nice review man, keep them coming!!!

Anonymous said...

I purchased this phone from T-Mobile in April - shortly after the launch in March of 08 - I've had nothing but problems with the phone powering off on its own with a fully charged battery. T-Mobile switched the phone for a new one within 1 week of purchasing. It is now less than 3 mos later and the phone is again powering off for no reason and the numbers on the display are appearing backwards. The best T-Mobile AND Nokia will do is exchange it for a refurbished model with used parts - I think this is not right since it is less than 3 mos old and seems to have a recurring problem. Someone else posted the same issue on C-Net. My opinion - this is a terrible phone and no one should buy it!!!

Eric said...

Zankhana: You can get a memory card and use a card reader to upload songs to it. You can also Bluetooth songs to the 3555 from your computer or another phone.

Anonymous said...

my wife purchased this phone from T-Mobile and send it to me., now the problem is when I inserted a new sim card to this phone the display says it is phone restricted and ask me to enter restriction code which my wife forgot what code it is., how can I unlock this phone in order for me to use it?

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Anonymous said...

i just got my nokia 3555,didn't really do too much digging up in it as yet,but i would like to know if there is any way that i can get the short cut menu icon on the top of the screen to come off?

Anonymous said...