Re-review of the Nokia 3590

The new Nokia 3590 is a lot like the older 3390, but with some new features. First up, it supports GPRS for high-speed data, but more importantly, it supports GSM850, which for Rogers GSM subscribers will be an important factor in 2003, when the network begins to deploy GSM at 850 MHz.

Last Updated: 01-Nov-2002

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.


Although support of GSM850 is a moot point at the time of this writing, Rogers (as well as AT&T in the US) will begin to rollout GSM support on 850 MHz. Why is this important? Most importantly, putting 850 MHz channels on their rural sites will greatly improve the GSM coverage in those areas. Note to Fido users however, GSM850 cannot be deployed by Microcell Connexions simply because they donít own any spectrum in that band. Only existing CELLULAR providers have licenses in that spectrum.

The similarities to the 3390 are many, since the phone is essentially the same size and configuration. The keypad differs a little, but anyone used to the 3390 would feel right at home with the 3590. Because the phones are virtually the same, I wonít bother covering all of the features found in the 3590, but instead refer you to the review of the 3390. The remainder of this review (concerning features at any rate) will cover those things that are different.

One thing that the older Nokia 3390 doesnít have is GPRS, but since the Nokia 3590 (like the 3390) doesnít have an easy way to hook up a data cable, nor does it support IR or Bluetooth, connecting it to a laptop or palm device is pretty much out of the question. The GPRS feature is really only useful used in conjunction with the WAP browser.

Unlike the 3390, the 3590 comes with a lithium-ion battery. They could have easily supplied one with the 3390, but they didnít. Battery life seems quite reasonable, but I never really tested that facet of the phone extensively enough to get a good feel for it. However, it is certainly much better than some recent Nokia offerings.

The phonebook comes from the 7190, which is a good thing. Aside from storing multiple numbers per entry, it can also store various string data, such as a street address and e-mail address. Searching the phonebook is also handled in a manner identical to the 7190, in which the list of names is reduced to those beginning with the letter (or letters) you type in.

SMS handling is also very much along the lines of the 7190. You can define your own folders, and move messages from one folder to another. Messages can be renamed so that they are move meaningful when viewed in the summary listings for each folder. Unlike the 7190, but like the 3390, the 3590 supports Picture Messaging (meaning you can add pictures to your messages), and it supports multi-part SMS up to 459 characters.

The keypad has a nice feel, but I found the placement of the keys rather difficult to fly through while entering SMS. I suspect that you will adapt to the layout over time, but the keypad was designed for looks and not utility. And speaking of looks, that has to be the most ugly key numbering Iíve ever seen. The 5 looks like a backward 2, and rest of them are a weird font that looks like it was dreamed up by someone having a psychotic episode.

The ringer on this phone can only be described in as pathetic. Itís a polyphonic ringer that has no normal rings on it. Even the loudest ringtone is so faint that it cannot be heard over minor background noise. Nokias were once known for having great ringers, but their first foray into the world of polyphonic ringers leaves a lot to be desired.

RF Performance and Audio Quality

When it comes to audio quality (both incoming and outgoing) however, the 3590 is only about average. The first thing you notice is the amount of background hiss (that doesnít seem to afflict earlier Nokia designs). The maximum volume of the phone is a tad low, and the overall tonal balance is a bit shrill. Despite all that, it doesnít sound too bad in day-to-day use, and itís certainly a better-sounding phone than the Ericsson T-200.

RF performance on the other hand is excellent. Despite having an internal antenna (which many people equate with poor performance), the Nokia 3590 can hold its own against my Motorola P280. It can match it for raw RF sensitivity, and for on-the-move stability. On top of that, the phone doesnít seem to be interfered with by close proximity to your body (such as living in a shirt pocket). Even in very weak signal conditions, the phone would ring reliably while sitting in my pocket.

However, like all phones with internal antennas, you have to be very careful not to put your fingers near the top of the phone during use. If you do, you will seriously impede the RF performance. Nokia has provided a small rubber patch on the back of the phone to entice you put your index finger there while using the phone. Although the pad feels nice, it is too low down on the phone for my liking, and I could never find a truly comfortable way to hold the thing that didnít interfere with the RF.

So, the 3590 can best be described as a 3390 on steroids, but I never really felt awfully comfortable with it. Perhaps it was the low earpiece volume, or the weird keypad, or awkward way I had to old it, but whatever it was, I just couldnít warm up to this phone. Having said that however, it has plenty of goodness to make it a worthwhile phone to consider if youíre in the market for something in its price range and size bracket.

Other Reviews of the Nokia 3590

Howard Chui