Like most of the company's flip phones, the Nokia 3155i sports a blocky design that isn't particularly ugly but rather utilitarian in look, which is fine since this handset is all about making calls and not impressing fashionistas or early adopters. Outfitted in silver and midnight blue, the 3155i is relatively compact and light (3.3 by 1.7 by 0.9 inches; 3.9 ounces), but the expandable antenna adds another inch of unwanted bulk. The phone feels solid in the hand, but the hinge of the flip cover seems a bit loose, and we worry about its long-term durability. On the front flap, there's a large, 1.5-inch-diagonal external screen, and while it's only monochrome, it shows the date, time, date, battery and network strength, and caller ID (where available).
Once you open the phone, you're greeted with a 1.8-inch-diagonal internal display. Although Nokia says the 3155i's screen shows off 262,144 colors and a 128x160-pixel resolution, we couldn't help but notice that images and text weren't as defined or sharp as we're accustomed to on similar displays. Also, the simplistic menu is drab, but it's easy to use and understand. Below the screen are two soft keys, a five-way navigation toggle, a center Select button, and the Talk and End keys. Overall, the layout is spacious with the exception of the Select key, which is tiny and may give users with large fingers some grief. The backlit dial pad is roomy and provides a tactile feel. Also, since the dial-pad buttons are raised above the phone's surface, it was easy to dial by feel. Finishing out the design features on the 3155i are a voice key (for voice memos and answering calls) and a volume rocker on the left spine, along with a 2.5mm headset jack on the right side.
The Nokia 3155i comes with a 500-name phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, an e-mail and Web address, a street address, and notes. You can assign contacts to a caller group, as well as pair them with any of 34 polyphonic ring tones or an image for caller ID. Since the 3155i doesn't have a camera, you'll have to use one of the default images preloaded on the phone or get photos onto your mobile another way; also, images do not show up on the external display. The handset comes with a speakerphone, which you can activate only after you're on a call. In addition to voice calls, you can stay in touch with friends and family with text and multimedia messages, as well as instant messaging or e-mail using the WAP 2.0 Web browser. The rest of the phone's features are standard and includes a vibrate mode, voice dialing and commands, a voice recorder, an alarm clock, notes, a calendar, a to-do list, and a calculator.
As we mentioned earlier, the Nokia 3155i doesn't have a camera, but it does have an FM tuner so that you can listen to the radio on your phone. However, you have to purchase a separate headset ($29.95) in order for the radio to work. For other diversions, Nokia packages the phone with Bowling 2, Ms. Pac-Man, and Tetris, but they're all demo versions, so you'll have to purchase them to enjoy the full benefits. You can personalize the phone with a variety of wallpaper, screensavers, and color schemes. The 3155i also supports MP3 and AAC ring tones. As always, you can download more options if you're not satisfied with the default settings.
We tested the trimode (CDMA 850/1900; AMPS 800) Nokia 3155i in the San Francisco area using Sprint's network. Call quality was OK but nothing spectacular. Callers could tell we were using a cell phone, but they didn't report too many problems in terms of clarity or volume. On our end, callers sounded somewhat garbled, and activating the speakerphone didn't help, although volume was adequate.
Nokia promises 4 hours of talk time and up to 10 days of standby time. In our tests, the 3155i got 4.5 hours of talk time, which beat what Nokia promised. According to FCC radiation tests, the Nokia 3155i has a digital SAR rating of 1.22W/kg.