For those of you who are thinking of getting a cell phone, there is so much
information, (and misinformation), out there, that we at the Gadgeteer thought it was time
to do a cell phone review. Although this review will focus on the Nokia 252 cell
phone, there is so much more information that you need to make an informed decision
regarding the purchase of a cell phone. Once we sift through all the information, I’ll
talk about the Nokia 252 phone’s advantages and disadvantages. (If you wish to jump
straight to the review, click here.)
First of all, many people go out and buy a cell phone without understanding “the
big picture”. Of course the phone itself is very important. But how will you charge
it? How long will the batteries last? How long does it take to re-charge the batteries?
What about when I’m in my car? Should I get a booster kit? Should I get a car adapter? How
long is the warranty? What if I drop my phone and break it? Is it costly to repair? What
about a leather case? What about a flip phone? What about the calling packages? Should I
get digital or analog? Why do they call it “roaming”? (I’m starting to sound
like Roseanne Rosannadana here!)
“…Gee Mr. Damiani, you sure ask a lot of dumb
I don’t have all of the answers for you. That’s because some can only be answered by
the person who will actually use the phone. But I have had many cell phones and I have
learned a lot in the process. The first thing you should do if you are thinking of buying
a cell phone is look at your budget. There are, as I mentioned above, many hidden costs
involved. The next thing you need to do is look at what your calling habits are, and/or,
what they will be, and what you need the phone for. This will be helpful in making the
decision on what calling plan to chose.
Regarding the budget, when you buy a cell phone, look at the calling plans that are
offered, and review the signal carrier’s calling area map. In the area that I live, (the
Midwest), some plans are very cheap, like 200 minutes per month for $20/month. But when I
looked at the calling area map, I found that the zone where the 200 minutes are used was
very small. Outside of that zone, there is a “roaming” charge for every minute.
I was charged as much as $4 per minute while out of my zone on a trip to the East Coast.
But I expected that and planned for it. You also get charged for long distance as well.
(Make these calls only if necessary!)
While in your zone, any calls that go over your monthly minutes are charged for at
different rates. My plan covers almost the entire state I live in, and charges 26 cents
per minute if I go over my monthly limit of 100 minutes. You really need to do research on
calling areas, and minutes offered as they relate to your calling needs. Someone who does
a lot out-of-state travel, may find a plan that is better for them than a local calling
plan. Also, some plans offer different rates for weekend calls than during the week. My
carrier has a plan that is $10 per month for unlimited calls on the weekend. If you need
to call someone in your calling zone on weekends, but it is otherwise a long distance
call, this kind of plan might be better than using your regular phone. A friend uses this
plan to call his relatives on his cell phone each week on the weekend and they talk for an
hour to each relative.
Keep in mind that you get charged for all of your cell phone time to the next highest
minute. This means that a 10 second call is charged at 1 minute. Also keep in mind that
you get charged for a call whether you make the call, or if someone calls you. I use the
formula that since I have 100 minutes, I can make around 3 minutes of calls each day. But
I also have the phone for emergencies. I am willing to pay whatever it costs per minute if
I am stuck on the road with my small kids in the car, or if I am in a car accident, (both
of which have happened).
If all of this is too confusing for you, take a look at the new flat-rate plans that
are being offered. You basically get a large number of monthly minutes, say 600 or 1000,
and you pay a flat-rate, $100-$150 per month. These plans are starting to create interest
because the minutes can be used anytime, and anywhere. (No long distance charges and no
more roaming charges!) The idea is to use the cell phone to replace
your conventional telephone. If you usually have a large telephone bill, this might be the
way to go.
But there are a few negatives to flat-rate plans. First, they all require digital
phones. Yes, digital phones are clearer than analog, but to date, the digital calling
zones are not as widespread as analog. Therefore you tend to get disconnected a lot. Of
course you still pay for the incoming calls as well as outgoing calls. And like
conventional cell phone calling plans, you pay for any unused minutes. (This could be a
problem if you miscalculate the number of minutes you think you will need by a large
margin.) But don’t be surprised if you see a major movement of consumers turning off their
telephones and replacing them with wireless during the next 3-5 years.
*For calling plan information in your area, check out www.wirelessdimension.com.
As you can see, we have covered a lot and still haven’t gotten to the review of the
phone. But wait, there’s more… Before I get to the phone
review, I want to talk a little about options and accessories. It’s important to know what
you are paying for when you buy your phone. A few years ago, I found 2 phones that were
identical in every way, except that one phone had a silent ring function, (you could set
it to vibrate). It was $25 extra for this function. But at closer examination, there were
more differences, that were not related to the phone itself.
I didn’t need a phone that vibrated. Phone A didn’t vibrate. Phone B did vibrate, and
was $25 more expensive. But Phone A had an older style NiCad battery. Phone B had a Nickel
Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery, which is better for charging when not fully drained. It also
lasted longer on a charge. Both phones had chargers for the batteries included, but Phone
B had a charger that could charge the battery fully in 2 hours. Phone A’s charger took 8
hours. Phone A had a 1 year warranty, but Phone B had a 3 year warranty. I finally
bought Phone B. When researching your cell phone, ask about warranty, chargers, battery
type, and hours of charging time.
When it comes to options, it all depends on what you find useful. When it comes to
accessories, I like to go with only 2: a leather case for protection, and a car
adapter.(As shown above.) But it’s important to shop around for them also. I recently
bought 2 cell phones for my “other” business. So all of the costs were doubled.
I found the phone I liked, the Nokia 252, and the case and car adapter. But all of the
prices were different in the 3 different places I went to. Here’s a short breakdown;
|Major cellular provider:
Car adapter: $29.99
Car adapter: $34.99
|Local cellular provider:
Car adapter: $24.99
All of the providers listed above used the same calling plans, so I bought the phones
from Radio Shack, and the 2 accessories from the local small business cellular provider.
Using this example, I could have spent $269.94 for both phones (worse case). Instead, it
cost me $109.94 for both phones. As Smokey Robinson says, “You better shop
And now, about the Nokia 252 cell phone. This
is one of the nicer phones that I have owned. It is a smaller analog phone,
measuring approximately 5.5 inches long, (not including the antenna), and 2 inches wide.
It is light weight, (6.2 oz), and fits into a pocket or purse easily. (By the way,
if you are someone who reads Consumer Reports before you buy, this phone was one of the
top rated cell phones.)
|Antique Bronze||Brushed Aluminum||Blue Glass||Hunter Green||Midnight Black||Pewter||Royal Blue||Signal Glow||Turbo Red||Wood Grain|
|The Nokia 252 comes in many colors, as shown above. But depending on where
you buy it, you will be restricted to what colors they have. My local Radio Shack had only
Wood Grain, Black, and Pewter to choose from. But most providers can get the color you
want if you ask, it just may take longer to get it. If you are someone who likes change,
there are other colored faceplates that you can buy separately, like purple, and you can
easily switch them. (Sorry, no camouflage!)The actual size and weight of the cellular
phone is also something that you might want to consider before you purchase your phone.
The Nokia 252 is a nice compact phone. It easily fits in your pocket or purse. It is also
To the left you will see a picture of how it compares in size to a Palm III PDA.
|“Talk time” and “standby time” refer to the amount of time you can use
the phone while talking to someone, and the amount of time the phone will operate while
you are not talking and are on standby. With the standard NiMH battery, the Nokia 252 has
2 hrs 45 min of talk time and 40 hours of standby time. The battery charger that is
standard with the unit is a 6-8 hour charger. If you want the Rapid Travel Charger
(ACP-9U) it costs extra.Some of the options that the Nokia 252 phone has are: one-touch
dialing, a “Phone Book” data base that stores up to 75 names and numbers,
on-screen notification of roaming status, ability to use voice mail and caller ID(where
available), a backlit screen, silent or vibrate, and 6 different ring tunes. Speaking of
the ring tunes, they range from a standard phone ring, to classical music,(I believe it’s
Mozart). Just paging through them at work raised many an eyebrow!
|Names and numbers can be easily entered into the Phone Book via the on
screen menu. But be careful how you enter them. I used the instructions in the owners
manual, and was unable to get it to work properly. When I took the phone back to where I
bought it, I was told that Nokia changed this functionality a bit and the owners manuals
may not have been updated. After you have some phone numbers and names in your phone book,
you can scroll through the listing of names or listing of numbers to find someone you wish
to call. Then you just push the “send” button and it places the call. If someone
calls you, simply touch any button except the “Power” or “End” buttons
to answer the call.
|The antenna on the Nokia 252 is a bit wimpy as compared to the rest of the phone. It seems
that lots of cell phones have wimpy antennas. To be honest, although the owners manual
states that you should extend the antenna while talking on the phone, I often wonder if it
makes a difference. The owners manual says that not extending the antenna causes the phone
to operate at a higher power. (But I’ve heard that some cell phones, made by a large
company that begins with a “M”, have an extendable antenna placebo. It’s there
because the consumer wants a phone to have it. I’ve not verified this rumor, so please, no
hate mail.)As I have said earlier, I like to have my phone in a protective case, for
the same reason that I would have my PalmPilot in a case. But keep in mind that you get
your phone pretty cheap when you sign up for a cellular service package, but if you want
to buy this phone without the package, it can cost $150 or more. It’s not as if it would
cost $19.99 to replace it if it was broken. Most service providers offer insurance on the
phone, for $3-$6 per month extra. But I recommend a rider on your home owners insurance. I
have my phone insured on my home owners policy for $6 per year. By the way, the case that
I bought makes it a bit harder to push the Power button, but I like it anyway.
Another very important thing that one should take into consideration in the purchase of
There are as many different styles of phone out there as there are tastes in phones.
You need to decide which phone is best for you. But hopefully this review will give you a
little more knowledge about the entire process of owning a cell phone, so you can be a
more informed consumer.
Price: Depends on service provider.
Small and lightweight.
75 name/number Phone Book
Comes in many colors.
Signal holding capability highly rated.
Power button hard to push while in leather case.
Would prefer a faster battery charger.
Antenna is wimpy compared to the rest of the phone.