Nokia 8290 Review

Nokia is the world leader in mobile communications. Backed by its experience, innovation, user-friendliness and secure solutions, the company has become the leading supplier of mobile phones.
The Nokia 8290, GSM 1900 Mhz mobile phone for use in the United States and Canada is a little bigger than the size of a cigarette lighter but packed with features. The phone has been introduced in 2000 and was the smallest phone on the wireless market. If you need almost every GSM feature and want it in the smallest possible package I recommend this phone. If you need Internet access and data services or have big hands then you should look for another wireless decision.
 This phone is very stylish. It easily fits into the pocket of a sport coat or jacket and has great portability. This phone is very easy to operate and will be picked up easily by beginners. An ample 250 names and numbers can be stored in the phone directory on the 8290's SIM card, along with 50 appointments. The phone offers voice-activated dialing; you can attach up to eight voice tags to names in your phone book. It also supports Short Message Service SMS , which allows you to send and receive short text messages from SMS -enabled phones. To help compose messages, the phone has predictive text input (the phone attempts to finish words for you as you type letters using the dial-pad keys)This phone is smaller than a cigarette box at 3.9” x 1.7, It conceals away in the palm of your hand, and is a featherweight at 2.8 ounces. Most will consider this phone to be a middle-high end phone, trim, slick and packed with many useful features. The phone is small to the point where you begin to worry if the other party can hear you - the microphone is too far from your mouth. However, the microphone is very sensitive and can pick up whatever you are saying.

With seven available colors and sleek design, the Nokia 8290 looks like a toy. There is no antenna sticking out (it is located internally, so you cannot see it), which would get in the way when you pull the phone out of your pocket. The phone design is simple and intuitive. Soft keys and a scroll button guide you through the functions of menus, submenus, and phone book. The talk and end buttons are illustrated with corresponding green and red icons. The on/off button is seamlessly built-in to the top of the phone. The buttons are easy to press and a volume control button can be easily accessed on the left side of the phone. Nokia 8290 also offers an array of changeable color covers (this was one of my favorite features. I had 2-3 different faceplates. Changing the faceplate gives you the felling you have a new phone). You can get the Nokia 8290 in seven colors: Coral Red, Metallic Blue, Mocha Brown, Mint Green, Lagoon Blue, Lunar Yellow or Storm Black. The phone's front panel has silver and black elements. I like Metallic Blue color the most.

The good

• Small and light with every feature imaginable including IR, and Vibrate.
• Lighted keypad not normally found on some small phones.
• Super usability and ease of use featuring the famous Nokia User interface.
• Large Amount of phone book entries.
• Picture messaging, custom ring tones, removable faceplates.
• Long battery life, even with the standard battery which is only 650 mAh
• Excellent voice quality and call management features

The bad

• No simple belt clip solution, you must purchase stick on type.
• Only 8 Voice dial labels, 25 would have been nice.
• Internal antenna offers poor signal strength in some areas. (This is also a network issue. I used mine with Voicesream. Bad, Bad signal. Sometimes in order to keep the conversation I had to find a spot in my apartment, where the reception is good and stay there)
• No cool Blue lights.
• No WAP browser or Internet browser built in.
• Because of the phone's size, the buttons are somewhat small and there is not much space between them.

The Ugly

• Very delicate, don't drop it on concrete or you will be sorry.
• Phone gets hot on the ear if you talk too long
• Did I mention the bad signal?
• Some of the phones have defective display. I had to exchange 3 phones
because of that.

• Auto redial - redials the last dialed number. Press talk button then scroll and redial a number (up to 10 last dialed numbers)
• Business Card - send receive business cards (if the wireless provider supports it)
• Calculator
• Calendar/event reminder
• Call alert
• Caller ID _ displays who is calling you.
• Clock with alarm
• Currency Converter
• Dialed, received, missed calls
• Digital Data
• E-Mail - You can receive emails directly to your phone. How I used it - I forwarded my regular email (Operamail for example) to my cellular. It is a very useful especially if you are expecting important emails and you are away from your computer.
• Keypad lock - Press and hold the red (End) button for couple seconds.
• Multi-party calling - very cool feature. You can connect up to 3 people and talk at the same time.
• Numeric paging capability
• On-screen battery indicator
• Phone Book/Contacts/Appointments - The 8290 has 250 memory locations in the phone book that can store a name of 20 characters and phone numbers of 30 digits
• Picture Messaging - The phone also supports the ability to send and receive small pictures with your short messages. The 8290 comes with 10 preloaded images, including a picture of someone watching a movie, a birthday cake, a champagne bottle, a heart, and more. Altogether you can store 11 pictures. Unfortunately, the messaging feature depends on the carrier and in my case I was unable to send or receive pictures (Voicestream)
• Profile settings
• Real Time Network Updating Clock
• Ring tones
• SIM• Voice dialing - The 8290 supports up to 8 voice tags for names in the phone book. Basically, you take a name and number that you've stored in the phone book, highlight it, click details then options and then Add voice tag. For my test I picked my house phone number, said "home" and then waited. It didn't work the first time. I was lucky with my second try. You have to speak loud and use longer names ( that feature worked much better With Nokia phone then the one I have now Motorola P280 (timeport)). In order to dial one of the 8 tags that you can set, you hold down the upper right button on the phone and then a tone sounds and a picture of a guy talking appears. At that point you say the name that you recorded.
• Voicemail capability
• Wireless connectivity through Infrared -The phone supports data transmission rates up to 14.4K I used this feature, connecting to my notebook computer. The phone has to be very close the laptop infrared eye, otherwise it won't work.
• print via IR
• Games - Memory, Snake, Logic, and Rotation
• Call Forwarding - Very useful feature. Especially if you have limited minutes and have to be at work all day. Simply use this feature to forward calls to your work phone. (it doesn't work if you have an extension)
• SMS (short messaging service) You can use the service provider's web site to send text messages to the phone. You can also send and receive text messages, the same way as a two-way pager
• Predictive Text Input - The way it works is it scans the embedded dictionary for matching words as you type letters so that you can only type one letter in most cases, instead of pressing each key more than once to spell out a word
• Profile settings
The phone also supports the ability to customize profile settings. Basically, if you want to set up the phone to behave a certain way when you're in a meeting, you can set it to vibrate under the profile called Meeting. Then, when you are about to go into your meeting, you can press the top button on the phone which allows you to quickly choose the profile of your choice. I am so disappointed that my new phone (Motorola p280) doesn't have that feature. I have to go through many manus to find that options.
• Battery - The phone uses standard Li-Ion 650 mAh BLB-2 battery. The desktop charger is compact and stylish, it connects to the electric outlet by the travel charger (standard type or rapid charger), they charge the BLB-3 battery in 2 hrs 25 min and 1 hr 40 min respectively.

The phone is currently available from VoiceStream Wireless and costs $149

» Conclusion

Nokia 8290 is an excellent choice – it looks nice, features very good sound quality, long battery life and extensive set of features. The phone had almost every technological feature you could want, for normal or business use. The question is, will the tiny sized phone be an asset or a liability? For me, it was a good phone I enjoyed to use. For someone with larger hands, or who misplaces things easily, this might not be the right choice.


  • Ultracompact
  • Stylish
  • Interchangeable faceplates
  • Good price
  • Infrared
  • Customizable


  • Dial-pad keys are cramped
  • No wireless Web access or analog roaming capabilities
  • Display problems

PhoneArena Rating:


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