There's no denying that the Nokia 3590 has a great feature set, especially for what it is - an entry-level and youth-market phone. Polyphonic ringtones and Java downloads across a speedy GPRS connection will excite the kids, but for certain they'll be left wondering why they're not seeing things in color.
Ease of Use: 5/6 stars
The 3590 is the successor to the Nokia's 3390 handset, and shares most of its features while adding some updated ones. The UI remains pretty much familiar and intact -- after all, why change something that works - but there are a number of improvements over the 3390 that make this new model easier to use.
The most noticeable change is the 3590's bigger screen, which at 96x65 is about 50% bigger than its predecessor - a feature that also pushes its size a bit bigger. The 3590 also works on GPRS networks to fuel WAP and e-mail access, and of course the downloading of Java midlets.
Whereas the 3390 used only the SIM card to store contacts, the 3590 can store up to 500 contacts with multiple fields for phone and fax numbers, e-mail and postal addresses, and so on. Combine this with the 3590's nifty little calendar program (which is much improved over previous efforts), and you've got a pretty serviceable, albeit basic, personal organizer.
Voice clarity was great and data transmissions nominal on AT&T Wireless' network in the Austin, Texas, area. One nice touch of the 3590 is that is also supports the forthcoming 850mHz GSM networks being used to fill in coverage holes in North America.
Design/style: 3/6 stars
Let's not beat around the bush, this phone is pretty ugly. The review unit came in the standard navy blue color which provided an awful contrast to the bright green backlit screen and nearly fluorescent light-up keypad (which was an otherwise welcome feature). The design truly is a step backwards from the 3390, and its only saving grace is the wide array of custom covers available, though some of those are pretty nasty as well, especially the Yoda one with flashing LEDs.
Vital Statistics: 4/6 stars
GSM/GPRS 850/1900mHz XHTML/WAP 2.0 Weight: 3.92 ounces Dimensions: 4.68 x .9 x 1.97 inches (118 x 23 x 49mm) Talk time: up to 6.5 hours Standby time: up to 12.5 days Polyphonic ringtones Java MMS (receive and view only) SMS Picture messaging E-mail Mobile chat Clock, calendar, calculator Up to 500 contact entries with multiple fields Predictive text input 96x65 monochrome display
Mobile Internet Browsing: 4/6 stars
WAP browsing is painless enough on the 3590, with the GPRS connection and large screen a big help. Java capability is pretty cool, but with no IR port or available data cable, the only way to get midlets in your phone is over your GPRS connection, which is a drawback. Maybe we're missing the point, but the Java still seems kind of silly without a color screen. Illustrating this point is the endlessly fascinating currency converter application that came loaded on our review unit. Hours of fun.
Mobile Internet-related Features: 3/6 stars
Though the 3590 can handle SMS, chat, and e-mail, which is all very nice, it's held down by the fact that it can't create or send MMS messages, only receive and view them. This would be a more serious limitation but for the fact that none of the carriers selling the phone currently offer MMS services.
Overall: 3.5/6 stars
The 3590 is a good, but not great, phone that offers solid performance and a pretty comprehensive feature set, especially considering its low price (generally under USD100, often much lower). But it's not flashy and doesn't have some head-turning features available on other competing entry-level models. And while this may satisfy middle-aged general consumers, it's bound to disappoint the ever-important youth market.
And if the comparable European model (3510i) can get a color screen, why can't this North American one? After all, the market - even here - has moved forward. It would seem that users will demand more in the future.