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Nokia 1616 Review

Live photos of Nokia 1616


  1. Positioning
  2. Design, size, controls
  3. Display
  4. Keypad
  5. Battery
  6. Menu
  7. Impressions

Sales package:

  • Handset
  • BL-5CB Battery
  • Home Charger
  • Manual


Nokia expects budget handsets to conquer a good half of the world phone market and tries not to lose its leadership in this niche. When releasing consistently low cost models, the company introduces new indexes and presents well known solutions a little updated and in slightly modified casings. Nokia 1661 underwent such a cosmetic update with latest figures interchanged, the cost lowered and now we see Nokia 1616. This is the cheapest model with a color screen with a price, according to the manufacturer, of 24 Euros ($32) excluding tax, but in developing countries and some other parts of the world the device will cost more. It is one of Nokias strongest offerings, the most widespread model in its market segment, playing one of the first fiddles.

This phone is suitable for those looking for a simple handset for calls with a color screen and a radio. It is a good device for couriers and other similar professions. Also it will appeal to people who want a solid, reliable phone that does not make you feel sorry in case of its loss.

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Design, size, controls

The model comes in 4 color schemes black, dark blue, dark red and dark grey. All color combinations come with blue plastic insets on the sides. The materials are not expensive, but you cant expect anything better in a device so cheap. On the rear panel has a decorative print around the speaker area.

The 1616s dimensions are not bulky (107.1 x 45 x 15 mm, weighting 78 g or 4.22 x 1.77 x 0.59, weighting 2.75oz) and is comparable with other One Thousand Series Nokia phones. The handset fits in the palm of a mans hand and thanks to its size it will be easy to carry the 1616 in a shirt or jeans pocket.

The right side features the charger jack. On the bottom end you will find the microphone as well as a slot for wrist strap.

The upper end houses the flashlight that is not too bright. It is turned on either via menu or just by pressing the navi pad upwards.

Build quality is good, panels fit tight and feel solid. The panels are interchangeable and the front one is easily removed. The extra panels are not sold as a separate accessory yet, but that can happen soon. It is also likely to be done to simplify the repair of a cheap device.

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The 1616s distinguishing feature is quite large (1.8) for an entry-level model, color CSTN-display with 128x160 pixels resolution, capable of depicting up to 65 K colors. The display is sufficiently bright; the image looks well on it. The only thing that spoils the impression is that under the sun it gets completely washed out and the information becomes illegible, but this is a specific feature of the technology it employs. The screen accommodates up to 5 text lines and two service lines.

In stand-by mode the screen displays the date and time that are easy to see with sufficient illumination.

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The keypad is made of rubber and the manufacturer claims that it is moisture resistant and protects the phone from dust. The buttons are large and comfortable. It is a pity that the navigational button is also made of rubber, but lacks press in operation. Ergonomics are average, far from the best. Keys are evenly lit with white color light and are well seen under various conditions.

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The 1616 utilizes 800 mAh BL-5CB Li-Ion battery. According to the manufacturer the device is capable of working for up to 8 hours in speaking mode and up to 540 hours in standby. In real life the 1616 lived for an of average 4 days with 10-15 minutes of talk per day, about 1 hour of radio listening and up to 10 minutes of other use. Generally speaking, the handset battery life is not a record for an entry level product, but it is good enough to satisfy the majority of users. It takes the 1616 two hours to charge from empty to full.

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The model is built on the S30 platform, comparing with Nokia 1661 icons and menu changed a bit, as for the rest the models are twins.

The main menu can be viewed either in the list form or as a 3x3 grid. Sub-menus are arranged in vertical lists. The 1616 lacks shortcut navigation, instead you can use fast access Active menu assigned to the right function key. User can add shortcuts of his liking to this menu in any order he wishes. Each of the navigation button sides is assigned a shortcut as well, but these cannot be customized.

When moving through the Menu quickly, some slowdowns can be noticed; when navigating normally, however, there is nothing of that kind. This problem results mostly from the use of CSTN-matrix, software in this case cant be blamed.

Localization of the device is performed rather well, although sometimes there are abbreviations but they wont spoil your experience with the 1616. The phone features predictive text input T9 for Russian and English.

Phonebook. The phonebook in the 1616 can store up to 500 contacts, for each one you are free to record the first and the last names, up to 3 phone numbers (types are customizable), selecting one of them as the main one. On top of that you can personalize the contact with one of the preinstalled pictures that will be displayed at incoming and outgoing call. A search is conducted by the first letters. Using the settings can activate displaying of only a contact name, a name together with the main number; if a picture is assigned to this contact is will be displayed in either case. The general contact list contains both contacts from a SIM-card and a phone memory, the type of memory is indicated by a corresponding icon shown in the upper service line.

The handset features fast dialing for up to 8 numbers as well as number filter, preventing the contacts included in a black list from reaching you.

In addition, just as in Nokia 1200, the phonebook is a multibook. This feature divides the phonebook into a maximum of five virtual phonebooks. Thus, should people share the device (relevant for developing countries) each one will have his own phonebook within a single handset. With that some contacts can be available to everyone and then these numbers will be displayed in all virtual books. This feature will come in handy for a home phone number, for instance, as there is no need to write it several times if the phone is used by members of the same family.

Messages. The 1616 works only with usual text messages, it does not support EMS and, of course, MMS. The phone understands combined messages with the maximum size limited by 918 characters. The message can be filled with emoticons that, however, are not converted into graphic icons. Templates are at your disposal as well. Right from here you can insert a contact from the phonebook into the message. Bulk-mailing is also available, but to use it, you must first create a mailing list that is limited by 10 numbers.

The text of the received message can be used as a reminder in the calendar, in addition, the number of the sender may be added to the black list and then no one can reach you from this number and received messages will be stored in a separate folder, not in a general one.

Moreover, the phone supports chat, where all messages from the selected user, as well as your messages to the user will be displayed on one screen.

Nokia Smart Messaging is supported, to send a graphic message in this format you have to go to the corresponding menu section with 30 preset pictures.

Call list. Here you can find standard lists containing 30 received, dialed and missed calls. Calls from one number get merged, in general list you see only the time of your last call to the selected number, to view earlier calls to the same number you should look up detailed information. It is worth mentioning that numbers are not displayed as a list. On the display you see only one call at a time which makes youre a bit confused.

Here you may also find call counter for dialed and received calls as well as total call times. This menu contains a message counter that can be also found in Messages menu.

Settings. Call settings are accessible here: you can select a ring tone for incoming call, adjust its volume, turn on/off vibrating alert as well as light indication (the display will light up in tune with the ringtone). Besides that there are 6 profiles completely adjustable by a user. To select the profile quickly you should press call Off key in standby mode.

For the display you can select and set one of the preinstalled themes that can be coupled with one of the profiles or assigned to all modes. Color scheme is also adjustable. Here you are free to turn the screen saver for standby mode with either a digital or an analogue clock. You may also setup an animated screensaver, but you should remember that these beautiful pictures devour the battery rather fast.

"Mobile payphone feature, allowing to set up the time limit for a dialed call after which the call will be disconnected is worth mentioning. This feature will be useful, for example, when roaming. Other network/phone related settings are also here.

Clock. Only one alarm clock is present, it may be set for a single use or for repeated selected week days.

From Nokia 1600 the model inherited the talking clock, when a womans voice informs you about the current time.

Reminders. Here you find a calendar displayed in month view only and an opportunity to create small text memos (up to 18 characters). For all the reminders you can choose one reminder signal.

Games. The 1616 comes with 3 games preinstalled: Boubce (arcade), Forbidden Treasures and Snake Xenzia (aka Snake).

Extras. This Menu contains a simple calculator, unit converter combined with a currency converter, timer and stopwatch. There is also a tune synthesizer that makes it possible to create your own five tunes. In "Demo" you can learn more about basic phone capabilities. From here you can also bring up the calendar and turn on the flashlight.

The last function is the most interesting one; it is called "Spreadsheet" and allows you to record your current expenses, daily or monthly. In addition to the existing items of expenses, for example, "Groceries" or "Transport", the user may create his own.

Radio. FM-radio works only with the headset plugged in it cable acts as antenna. The reception quality is good enough, most stations are captured and reproduced without any unwanted noises, at least in the city. Sound can be played back via the headset as well as via the speaker.

The radio can be tuned either manually or automatically. The number of preset stations cannot exceed ten, for each you can enter its name. Radio can work in the minimized mode; in this case the main screen shows cell number and station frequency or its name (if there is one). Switching between the stored stations is possible not only through the menu, but by pressing the answer button on the headset.

On top of that, the radio can also be used as an alarm, but we must remember that in this case the headset must be plugged in.

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Call quality is on par with modern GSM handsets, not better and not worse than most of them. Earpiece volume in some cases is not sufficient, you want to increase it a little, but unfortunately, you cannot. But the microphone sensitivity is nothing to dwell upon, the person on the other end almost always hears you well. The 1616 features 32-tone polyphony; ringtone volume is average; sound quality of preinstalled tunes is quite bearable. You cant set your own ringtones, except for those five that you can create using Tune Synthesizer. The vibrating alert is average, sometimes it you cannot feel it.

The loudspeaker works without any problems.

MSRP for the 1616 is set at 24 Euro, similar to Nokia 1661 - the models are actually twins, an upgraded 1616 has the only trump card keypad that is more pleasant. Should one look at competing solutions, there is only one - Samsung E1125 - that can be regarded as a rival, but it has lower display resolution, though other features are comparable to the Nokia-branded device. Given that such models are bought without long online research, both of the devices are sold in huge quantities; in fact we can say that are permanently in short supply. In this aspect, Nokia 1616 is a successful model from the first days of its life. It has no problems, it is reliable, inexpensive, and it is Nokia. Bestseller that can be recommended as a cheap phone for calls without any hesitation. A perfect solution for its class.

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Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)

Published — 30 April 2010

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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