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Nokia 3650 Phone with T-Mobile Service

A state of the art phone with camera, voice recorder, memory, GPRS, tri-band GSM, Bluetooth and much more

One of the best combinations of phone and service today (written in Nov 2003) is the Nokia 3650 and T-Mobile. And, for best results, add the extra programs to your phone that we recommend.

Best of all, the phone can be bought through this link and you'll get $100 cash back - it is better than free!



You are now free to change from any mobile phone service provider to any other mobile phone company, keeping your phone number when you make the switch.

Even more amazingly, you can also now switch from a regular 'landline' phone to a mobile phone, and transfer your landline phone number to your mobile phone, too.

So, you now have a marvelous opportunity to consider any and all types of phone and phone service, and transfer your present phone number to whatever provider you wish.  Use this as an opportunity to review your present cell phone equipment and service. There have been amazing advances, even in just the last twelve months.

We unreservedly recommend the Nokia 3650 as the best phone on the market today. And, if you live in an area where T-Mobile provides good coverage, then a T-Mobile service plan is probably the best service for you as well.

The Nokia 3650 - Basic Phone Capabilities

The Nokia 3650 is more than just a phone. But let's talk about its phone capabilities first.

The 3650 is a tri-band GSM phone. This means that it can be used anywhere in the world where GSM service is available, not just in the United States. Most cell phones in the US use a type of cellphone service that is uncommon outside the US, but T-Mobile (and AT&T Wireless and Cingular) use the international standard GSM type service, with a twist : US GSM uses a different frequency to the rest of the world, so you need to get a phone that will work on the US frequency (1900 MHz) as well as on the two international frequencies (900 MHz and 1800 MHz).

These issues are discussed in detail in my three part series on how to get international cell phone service. For the purposes of this article, suffice it to say that the 3650 is perfectly suited for international usage.

As well as the normal phone microphone and speaker, it also has a built in speakerphone, and is supplied complete with a headset as well.

It can both ring and vibrate when calls come in, and you have a large selection of different ring tones and tunes to choose from. It is also possible to download more ring tunes (typically costing 99c each) if you want to have an even more distinctive or musical tune.

One of the obvious features of this phone is its color screen. The color screen is a lot smaller than on a PDA, but with a resolution of 176x208 pixels, it displays more information on it than older model PDAs (that have only a 160x160 pixel screen).

The phone uses easily understood menus to walk you through everything you might want to do, including obvious things like making calls, putting calls on hold, checking voice mail, as well as less obvious things that you're unlikely to regularly need to know.

A sophisticated address book enables you to store contact details and multiple phone numbers, and even pictures of, a virtually unlimited number of different people. You can also add 'voice tags' to 25 of your contacts, and then when you want to make a phone call, you simply say the person's name and the phone will recognize you and dial the number. Very helpful if you're driving in the car.

The phone's contact address book (and a calendar and to do list) can be synchronized with a PC.

A distinctive feature of this phone is its rotary dial pad. It is very easy to quickly adjust to the different layout of the keys, and each key seems to be larger in size than on many other modern cell phones, making them easier to dial. The phone itself is also somewhat larger than many modern phones - 5.1" x 2.2" x 1.0", but weights about the same (4.6 oz).

Overall, the phone is so full of features that the instruction manual runs a hefty 220 pages! Let's talk about some more about these special features.

Built in Camera

On the back-side of the phone is a built in camera with 640x480 pixel resolution. Picture quality is not brilliant, but is perfectly good for casual photos -information about this feature and picture examples from my 3650's camera can be seen here. After taking pictures, it is easy to then send them to friends via email or electronic message, and you can also transfer the pictures to your own computer or other electronic device via the phone's IR and Bluetooth capabilities.

As well as taking pictures, the phone will also make videos, too, which can then be viewed on its screen or transferred to another computer or display device.

More than a Phone

Sure, this is a great phone and does just about anything you'd expect or need a phone to do. But it can be a lot more than a phone (and camera) - if your cellphone service is clever enough (and priced correctly!) to allow you to take advantage of the phone's extra features, and if you add some extra software to the phone.

This phone is more like a computer than a phone. It has an operating system - but, relax, it is not Windows! It is called Symbian, and a lot of software has been developed for this operating system already.

The phone also has space for an additional MMC type memory card. It comes supplied with a 16MB memory card, and you'll quickly find yourself needing to use this memory to store additional programs, additional data, and saved pictures. I am using 4MB at present, and upgraded from a 16MB card to a 128MB card which I bought for $50. Note that 128MB is the largest capacity card it supports.

Extra Software

There are hundreds of programs that can be added to your phone, all reasonably priced, and some adding invaluable extra functionality.

Click over to this page for reviews on several of the marvelous extra programs that you can install and run on your Nokia 3650.

Battery Life

The phone has a Lithium Ion battery, which - in theory - is capable of 200 hours standby time or 4 hours of talk time. This assumes that the phone is enjoying a perfect strong signal all the time - the weaker the signal, the more power the phone uses due to increasing the strength of the signal it transmits to the cell.

Battery life, in practice, is a lot less than these claimed numbers. Whenever you do anything with the phone, it turns on the display backlighting and that seems to use up a great deal of power. If you have Bluetooth switched on, this increases the drain on the battery (I'm guessing it takes 30%-40% off the battery life). Look for a little black dot on the top right of the default screen, just below the battery symbol - this signifies your Bluetooth is activated. Turn it off if you don't need it.

If you are running applications in the background (like the Instant Messaging addon for example) then this reduces the battery life still further. A test with the Instant Messaging software running showed 62 hours only of total battery life from fully charged to fully discharged.

There is a warning 'battery low' beep that starts to sound intermittently when there is still three or so hours of battery life, so when you start hearing that, turn off all non-essential functions and hurry to recharge your battery as soon as possible.

When you need to recharge the battery, a lightweight multi-voltage charger that comes standard with the phone makes it easy to recharge the battery anywhere in the world. It seems to take only a couple of hours to recharge the battery.

Data Communications

Now for one of the very powerful features of the phone. In addition to an IR port, it also has built in Bluetooth wireless networking capability.

To understand more about Bluetooth wireless networking, visit our special report that explains what Bluetooth is, and how it is different to other types of wireless networking.

The Bluetooth capability means you can use your phone with a wireless headset, and can easily share data with a PDA or computer.

It also means something else, too. It means that a computer or PDA can connect to your phone through the Bluetooth, and then connect from the phone on to the internet, using its GPRS capability.

The GPRS service provided by T-Mobile means that your phone can access everything on the internet. You can get email, you can browse websites (although this isn't recommended or easy due to the very small screen) and do anything else you'd want to do. You can do this either on the phone itself, or on a computer or PDA that is linked to the phone.

This feature means that you now have 'everywhere internet'!

GPRS (and Wi-Fi)

This is a wonderful 'always on' data service a bit like DSL or cable modems - but very much slower. And, just like DSL, you can be using the GPRS to connect to the internet at the same time you are also making regular phone calls on your phone!

GPRS connections are slow - using the bandwidth tests here my phone has measured an average speed of about 28kb - the same as a relatively slow dial up modem connection. But, although it is slow, it is also fast enough for basic browsing and email/instant messaging, and it is brilliantly convenient. If you choose T-Mobile as your service provider, it is also very affordable.

GPRS is very much slower than Wi-Fi. But Wi-Fi 'hotspots' are far and few between, whereas GPRS service is available over much of the country. If you've signed up for T-Mobile's unlimited GPRS option, then (like me) you might be happy accepting the slower speed of GPRS and surfing the internet from your laptop, via your phone and its GPRS connection, rather than always searching for a Wi-Fi source and paying extra for Wi-Fi connectivity.

Choosing a Cell Phone Service Provider

Hopefully you're now persuaded on how wonderful this phone is. Now for the key question - which service provider should you use with this phone.

Three different companies provide the GSM/GPRS phone service that this phone uses - AT&T Wireless, Cingular, and T-Mobile. Check out all three companies to see which have service in your area. Here is a very helpful comparison service - .

My clear preference is for T-Mobile for three main reasons. Firstly, they will 'unlock' the phone which means I can use it with any phone service, anywhere in the world. AT&T and Cingular do not unlock their phones, which makes them useless (or very expensive) when you're traveling internationally.

Note :  We can instantly unlock most Nokia phones, including all 3650's, for only a $5 fee.  This gives you more flexibility in who you choose as your service provider.

Secondly, T-Mobile has an unlimited GPRS add-on to their calling plans. For only $20 a month extra, you get unlimited connectivity and data transfer. This encourages you to get the full use out of the extra features and capabilities of your phone. The other two companies charge horribly high costs per MB of data you transfer. I've found T-Mobile to have good customer service with only short hold times, and have had no problems at any time. If T-Mobile has service in your area, then they should be your first choice.

Thirdly, my plan includes no long distance charges anywhere in the US or Canada, and no roaming charges anywhere in their network.

Special Opportunity : Amazon are currently selling these phones, with a qualifying T-Mobile service plan, for $200. But then they give you a $150 rebate, and T-Mobile gives you a second $150 rebate, making your net cost a $100 refund! Click here for this special deal.

Who Needs a Landline?

In most areas, a regular landline can cost $40 a month when you add a package of features to it. Plus you then have to pay for long distance calling outside your local calling area.

In comparison, cellphone service, with as many or more of the same features, and with free long distance, costs about the same. And, you're probably going to own a cell phone anyway - why bother also paying for a regular landline phone?

This is not an empty question. An increasing number of people are disconnecting their landline phones and are exclusively using their cellphones for everything. Perhaps you should, too!

A Word of Warning

As a bonus to anyone who has scrolled down this far, here's a potentially invaluable word of warning. Back up your phone data. This is easy to do (copying it to the MMC card in the phone) and is something you should regularly do.

On one occasion I had a configuration problem, and as T-Mobile walked me through resolving it, something happened which destroyed the phone's operation - it would turn on, but then freeze and nothing would work.

The only solution ended up being a complete reset, which caused all the phone's data - settings, phone book, etc - to be lost. Fortunately, a quick recover from the MMC card then restored everything, but if it was not for the backed up data, I'd have lost tens of hours of information.

An Essential Accessory

If you have any type of GSM SIM based cell phone, then our SIM Saver is a wonderful device that can save you much hassle and inconvenience.  It acts as a backup and copying unit for the phone directory information stored on your SIM card.

Headset Issues

There are three good reasons to use a headset much/most of the time. Using a headset frees your hands to type or do something else, and is more ergonomically comfortable. A headset makes using your phone safer when driving. A headset keeps the phone itself away from you and reduces the potentially harmful radiation that your head is exposed to.

The phone is supplied with a generic miniature headset. But you might want to consider either adding a Bluetooth wireless headset for greater convenience, or perhaps the amazing Boom noise-cancelling headset that we review here. This latter device adds two more reasons to use a headset. The Boom enables you to speak quietly into the phone and be heard clearly, even in a high noise environment. This means you can use the phone in places where it is otherwise not possible, and it also means you can speak quietly into the phone in normal environments and so have more privacy by not being overheard by everyone else around you.

Note also our review of the Skullcandy Link headset mixer. This simple and inexpensive device enables you to share a set of headphones between a music source and your cellphone. An ingenious and convenient product.


Cell phones today offer all the features of regular landline phones. At the same time that calling plan costs have plummeted, extra services have been added, but to get full benefit of these new services, you need a state of the art phone.

The Nokia 3650 gives you full benefit of all these wonderful new services that transforms your cellphone from a simple wireless phone to a portable data center, integrated in with your PDA and computer(s), and with continuous internet access as well.

You can now get a new 3650 for better than free - with a $100 cash back refund through the special Amazon deal at present. What are you waiting for!

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Originally published 21 Nov 2003, last update 21 Jul 2020

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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