GeckoBeach's Sister Site
IHateTaxis.com: Arrive Stress Free
Be a smart traveller and know your ground transportation options, from airports, train station, terminals, and tourist destinations.

Nokia 3390 Review
9 Visitors Online

Nokia 3390

The new Nokia 3190 became available in Canada starting in late January 2001. This phone model is carried by Fido, Cityfone, and SimPro in Canada and various GSM providers across the US. Related models: The Nokia 3390 is similar to other GSM models available in Europe, Asia, and Australia, including the 3310, 3350, 3210, and 3250.

Dimensions and Exterior Design

The 3390 is the newest edition to the Nokia family of smaller phones (82xx and 88xx), essentially replacing the successful 5190 and 6190 models that have been around for several years. Both the 8290 and 8890 GSM phones are higher priced multi-frequency phones, but the new 3390 is a low-priced, single mode phone that essentially replaces the 5190 and 6190.

In terms of keyboard layout, the phone closely models that of the 5190 and other 51xx series phones (e.g., the 5125 and 5165 sold by Rogers) plus the 32xx series phones (sold overseas). There is a central softkey under the LCD screen, a Clear key on the left, and a combination up/down key on the right. There are 12 standard numeric keys underneath the navigation keys and the power key is located on the top of the phone. The LCD display is a standard grey with black graphics and lettering. Four green LEDs backlight the screen and additional green LEDs light the softkeys and numeric keys on the front of the phone.

The phone's overall dimensions are 10.9 x 4.8 x 2.0 cm (4.3" x 1.9" x 0.8") and with the included standard NiMH battery (BMC-2), the phone weighs in at 119 g (4.2 oz). These phone dimensions are slightly larger than the 8290 and 8890 models, but definitely smaller than the 5190 and 6190 models. If you found the 8290 or 8890 a bit too small, then you might find the 3390 a bit more to your size (I did). The 3390 also features changeable front and back covers (unlike the 51xx and 61xx models which just had changeable front covers). Nokia currently stocks six different changeable covers (silver, grey, navy blue, light blue, yellow, and red), but 3rd parties will likely have more choices available in the near future. The keypad, also like the 51xx and 61xx models can be replaced as well.

The SIM card is located near the bottom back of the phone (once the back cover is removed), but to insert the card you need to remove the battey pack. While this in itself is not a big deal, the 3390 only retains the date, time, and other non-SIM card saved values for a few seconds once the battery is removed. I don't see this as a big problem for many users, as there is likely little need to swap batteries or SIM cards.

The Nokia 3390 supports only 1900 GSM. For Canadian users on the Microcell GSM network (Fido, Cityfone, SimPro) this phone will work in most major cities (e.g., Victoria, Vancouver, Whistler, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, GTA/Golden Horseshoe, Montreal, Quebec City, and St. John's) plus in other cities that have scheduled GSM service by the end of 2001 (e.g., Nanaimo, Kelowna, Regina, Winnipeg, Halifax and others). This phone will also work in several major US cities that have GSM services.

The Nokia 3390 does not offer an analog (AMPS) add-on, unlike the 5190. If you need a phone that will still support analog roaming then consider another model and/or service provider. This model will also not work outside North America, however you can remove your SIM card and place it into another handset that does support other GSM frequencies (900, 1800 MHz) for overseas roaming.

Availability and Price

Fido is currently selling this model for $150 Canadian (includes SIM card).


Menu functions. The menu layout of the 3390 is extremely similar to the 5190, so if you have owned a 5190 before then you will master the layout in a matter of minutes. Like the 5190, the 3390 features a single large softkey right under the LCD screen, allowing the selection of menu items. I find the major disadvantage of this single key is that you always have to read on the screen what pushing it will do, whereas other Nokia models (e.g., 61xx, 82xx, and 88xx) you quickly master what the left and right softkeys do by default.

Phone Book Unlike other newer GSM models (e.g., Nokia 8290 and 8890 plus several other phone brands), the 3390 does not have any additional memory to what is found on your SIM card. Therefore you will be limited to what your SIM card can hold for phone book entries.
The phone book layout is similar to the 5190 in terms of scrolling features and searches. In addition, you can assign up to eight entries with a voice tag. The voice tag works relatively well and even if your voice is a bit off the phone will still recognize the name you are saying and dial the number. You can also assign ringer tones to specific entries in your phone book.

Ring Styles Like other Nokia models, the 3390 features the usual array of tones with a few new ones thrown in (35 in total). But now this model features an option to make one of your own custom tones (up to 50 notes), like many of the newer Ericsson models. This tone can be send to other GSM phones or alternatively a friend can send you a tone that they like or one you have found on a website -- you can upload up to four additional tones to your phone.

Messages The 3390 has been set up for the SMS junkie. In addition to the writing and receiving of text messages, this phone features picture messages, smiley faces, business cards, phone book entries and calendar entries. When entering a text message the phone uses the predictive T9 input to essentially 'guess' at the word you are trying to enter. T9 is just plain annoying at first to most users as you tend to overtype the word the phone has guessed, but once you get the hang of it you will be firing off messages in lightning speed. The 3390's T9 has dictionaries for English, French, and Spanish and does allow for additional entries to be made for those less-common words.
The Simley faces are a cute, but rather useless addition, unless you use a lot of them in your emails. Maybe they should of also added other internet expressions as well (e.g., LOL, ROTFL, TTYL). Then again, you could always add these latter expressions to the T9 dictionary ;-)
The other nice feature with the 3390 is the support for long SMS messages. Messages on other phones are limited to 160 characters, but now you can compose SMS's that are almost three times the size. When send from one 3390 to another 3390, a long SMS comes in as one message. When these long messages are sent to other GSM phones there is some prefixing of the message with foreign characters as the message is split.
Another new addition is of picture messages. Termed 'screen savers' by Nokia, you can have various graphic images fill your screen while the phone is idling. These screens can be linked to your profile settings and may also be sent between phones.

Games All new Nokia games! There's Snake II (an updated version of the original Snake), Space Impact (similar to Space Invaders), Bantumi, and Pairs II. The 3390 does allow you to receive feedback as either a sound or a vibration -- nice if have if you are in a quiet or loud location.

Other Goodies I've lumped these all together since they are now commonly found on most models and definitely on 51xx and 61xx Nokia models: Calculator, Calendar, Keyguard, Call logs, different profile settings, and so on.


The Nokia 3390 does not come with an IR port, so forget about talking to your Palm or any other IR device using your phone. If you have this requirement then consider looking at the higher-end 82xx or 88xx series phones. There is also a headset jack at the bottom of the handset, but regular 2.5mm headsets do not work in this proprietary Nokia jack. Likely Nokia and other 3rd party suppliers will provide headsets in the near future.

Sound Quality and Control

Sound quality on the 3390 was found to be acceptable, but definitely not the best when compared to other Nokia models and other phones currently on the market. There was a consistent, but faint background static noise on all conversations. In louder environments (e.g., on a busy street) it was difficult to hear the other party over unless the phone was pressed directly against my ear. The ringer is loud, but if you plan to put the phone into a jacket pocket then you might not hear it in louder environments.

There is no external antenna for this phone, making it look sleeker, but this somewhat compromises the signal in certain situations. The internal antenna is located on the back of the phone between the top battery contacts and the power button. Most phone users likely find that they grasp the phone with their palm in a lower corner and their index finger in the opposite top back corner. I'm no exception to this, except when walking quickly, biking, or in a situation where there might be a good chance of dropping the phone; in these situations I tend to place my index finger over the top back of the phone, essentially providing the phone bracing in three locations instead of two. The problem with this is that the finger now covers the antenna and interferes with RF performance (even the manual that comes with phone warns you to not do this). Despite this concern, I found that the 3390 did not have problems picking up signals in areas of questionable coverage.


The included BMC-2 battery was found to be a bit disappointing. Under normal conditions I found the phone to last up to two days, but any heavy use of SMS features or games will drop this down to a mandatory daily recharging. If this is found to be a problem then Nokia stocks both the BMC-3 (extended NiMH) and the BLC-2 (extended Li-Ion) batteries.

Other Concerns

Several people that have had their 3390 for a few weeks or longer have had problems with their keypads. Although the keypad seems to be nice and secure on new phones, after some use they tend to become a little loose, making positive contacts while pressing keys a little more questionable.


I had mixed opinions about this model. After doing some thinking, I realized that it is not an 82xx or 88xx series phone and it is geared towards the average user and not the business user. As such, some nicer details are compromised for cost concerns, like the sound quality, the lack of an IR port, multiple frequency support, etc. This model essentially provides a replacement for the 5190 and 6190 that Fido and other GSM carriers across the US have carried in the past, but comes with a bunch of new 'nice' features, like the enhanced SMS, screen savers, and voice dialing. Therefore I would recommend this model to anyone that plans to use the SMS features, but does not have great concerns over the sound quality and who does not need IR or data capabilities on their handset.

Other Nokia 3390 Reviews

Steve Punter: http://www.arcx.com/sites/Nokia3390.htm
Howard Chui: http://www.howardchui.com/phonereviews/nokia33901.htm


This phone comes set to Half-rate coding, but voice quality may be improved if you switch it to full rate by entering *3370#. Thanks to R. Velickovski for the tip. Note that some users have reported that this code causes their phone to completely freeze up, so use with caution.

Quick Comparison Chart
Technology1900 GSM
Dimensions10.9 x 4.8 x 2.0cm
4.3" x 1.9" x 0.8"
Weight119 g or 4.2 oz
Talk time2.6 hours
Standby time5.5 days
Display2-4 lines text and graphic
Menu lang.Eng, Fre, Spa
Ring tones35
Signal str. ind.Yes
Battery ind.Yes
Any key ans.Yes
Message ind.Yes
Alarm clockYes