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Ah yes, the Nokia 8110. What can I say, except, that this is the MATRIX PHONE! Yes that's right, it is identical, apart from the automatic sliding featuring in the film, which is just a huge bonus. This phone is in the drawer, for many many years now, not sure if it still works. It is big, large and of course too heavy - with our current standards. It does not have a camera, it even has outward antennae, and basic screen. I cannot say much about using it now, since it has been such a long time since I used it, but it was easy to use, nice to carry around, and the curviness of the phone is great to hold against the face. One of the oldies, and popular made by the Matrix film, I do not think there are many who still uses this phone, but it was one hell of a phone back in its day.
The Nokia 8146 is a veritable antique in handset terms but a great many are still in use and more are probably lingering in the back of drawers or cupboards having been replaced by the next new thing. I have used a Nokia 8146 on the One2One network for the last two years. I inherited it when I moved into my current post and have not, yet, seen any reason to replace it. I have been a regular (not to say, heavy) business user of mobiles for the past 9 years. More than this, for a number of years I was actually involved in field testing using a range of handsets on all of the UK networks. First the facts about the handset. It was first released in the UK in early 1997. It is a single band GSM 1800 handset supplied for both the One2One and Orange networks here in the UK. It features an ‘active slide’, which means that calls can be answered or terminated by opening or closing the sliding cover. It has a small fixed antenna (about 25mm long). Physically it weighs about 150g and measures about 140 x 50 x 25mm and has a curved shape that gave the handset its nickname - the banana phone. The LiIon battery has a claimed life of 90 minutes talktime and 70 hours standby and has a recharge time of 60 minutes. In practice I have found that I do achieve a talktime of more than an hour, but the standby time is closer to 48 hours than 70. To be honest, the times stated by the suppliers are always on the optimistic side. Have a look at the footnote if you are interested in the technicalities. The phone has 224 memory locations for storage of names and numbers – 99 on the SIM card and 125 on the handset itself. If you aren’t going to use all of the storage (and I don’t know anyone who does) I’d suggest that you try to keep to the SIM locations only, as it makes life easier if and when you change handset. It stores the last ten numbers called (which is the most frequent feature that I use), the last ten receiv ed and the numbers of last ten missed calls. The handset handles SMS, but doesn’t have any of the current features to ease message entry (such as where it tries to guess what you intend to enter before you have finished) so it is best used to receive messages and send short replies. In use I have found it to be sensitive and with good quality audio. The memory is more than adequate for any normal use and the ‘last ten’ lists are very useful. The battery life is adequate for my needs although low by current standards. The battery type used should not exhibit the so-called ‘memory effect’ but it does show a gradual decline in capacity with age. My handset has been in daily use for over three years (on the original battery) and seems to have lost about 10% of its storage capacity. I find that in my normal use I recharge every second day during the week but it will see me through the weekend without a recharge (because I don’t use it so often outside working time). The handset is simple to use and relatively robust. The only weak aspect of the design is the antenna, which is prone to damage if the handset is carried in a pocket. Having said that, I have never actually needed to replace it! I have dropped the phone on to hard surfaces quite a few times (accidentally, I should add) without any ill effect. Why should anyone be interested in reading a review of this antique? As I said, there must be many sat in drawers and cupboards unused. If you are considering taking up a Virgin Mobile deal, either subscription or pre-pay, you might want to use an existing handset as this gives you a very low start up cost. The Nokia 8146 is a single band handset. While this means that it is less useful for overseas roaming (as fewer networks use 1800 than 900MHz bands) it also means that the handset is inherently more sensitive than the more common dual band. This is particularly important for One2One (and by im plication, Virgin) users as the network is still a little behind the other operators in national coverage. Overall, this has proven to be a good, solid performer. There have been no problems with reliability and it provides the facilities that users actually need (as opposed to those that the manufacturers introduce). If you are looking for a handset to use on the Virgin Mobile (virtual) network, then this could be a good choice. If you are a current user then think carefully before changing as you may find that actual performance reduces with a new, dual band, handset. ** Technical Footnote ** Battery Life As promised, a short explanation of some of the factors effecting battery life on mobile handsets. Manufacturers always quote talktime and standby battery life for their models and in every case the user will find that the actual figures achieved are significantly worse. Are the manufacturers simply misleading the public or are there other factors in play? Firstly, it should be noted that the manufacturers always indicate battery life as ‘up to…’, this gives them a convenient escape to claims that the equipment does not perform as indicated. Secondly, the actual performance achieved will vary depending on the user (as I will describe later). Finally, the battery life for all types will tend to degrade with time. The battery life depends on the capacity of the battery and the power consumption of the handset. The capacity of the battery has grown only slowly over many years and much of the potential capacity increase has been sacrificed to reduce weight. The main area where battery life has been extended is in reducing the power consumption of the handsets. The handset power consumption has been addressed in two areas, circuit design/ chip technology and handset operation. The chipsets have been improved to reduce power consumption and the efficiency of the circuits h as also been optimised. The handset operation relies on the use of some features of GSM that were designed into the standard but not always implemented in the earlier models. Although I can’t explain the whole of the GSM standard here (it runs to many large volumes) there are three features which can help to reduce the power consumption. Firstly, and most importantly for talktime, is mobile power control. Basically the transmitter in the handset is set to use only the minimum power required at any particular time to maintain a good quality call. This means that the actual power transmitted varies depending on how good the coverage is. The greater the transmitter power, the more power used from the battery. The second feature used is called ‘Discontinuous Transmit’ (DTX). What this does is to only transmit from the mobile when the user is talking. This can dramatically reduce the power used during a call. During the periods when you aren’t talking the system ‘makes up’ background noise to reassure the other party that the call is still in progress. The third technique helps with the standby power consumption and is known as ‘Discontinuous Receive’ (DRX). What this does is to only switch on the receiver sporadically when in standby. You might think that this would mean you would miss calls, but the system is designed to send messages only in certain time periods and the mobile doesn’t need to listen for the rest of the time. These three techniques, along with improved circuit design, are the main reasons for the improvement in battery life that we have seen in recent years. How does this affect the user? In the main the user has little control over the battery life, but the following points help to explain why you may be getting much less time than you expected. As we have seen the transmitter power is set depending on the coverage levels. If your handset is showing only one or two bars on the s ignal level you will almost certainly be transmitting at full power. This could be using ten times the current of the lower power settings. As a part of the system operation the handset sends periodic location updates when in standby. This is so that the system knows where you are if a call is received for you. If you are in an area with no coverage (underground or in the back of beyond) the handset will make repeated attempts at full power to establish contact. If you want to maximise battery life, try to avoid making calls in areas of poor signal (bear in mind that coverage might vary by moving only a few metres. If you are using your handset in car, consider using an external antenna (and, of course, you should be using a hands-free kit is you are driving). If you know you are going to be out of coverage for an extended period, turn off your phone. Finally, remember that, generally, single band phones will be more sensitive that dual band models.