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(Pocket-lint) - 3G’s finally showing signs of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Three, the only UK operator to currently offer a voice 3G service in the UK is keen to keep a hold of its grip, but does that mean offering a lower quality of product merely to say that you offer a range. It must be scary times for three with Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and 02 on the cusp of launching their 3G voice services.

The NEC e228 from the outset seems cuddled with a poor design. Opting for a chocolate bar approach rather than a clamshell design the first thing you’ll notice is the size. A large screen, large keypad and even larger casing certainly warrant it a “phone from a decade ago” label and compared to designs from LG, Sony Ericsson and soon to be launched Samsung, the phone lacks the pocket ability of its competitors - and in our minds a something that is a major hindrance.

What more puzzling is that this is the sixth model to be launched in the UK yet the size still hasn’t really got any smaller. Of course there is a lot to pack in here, the large 65k screen, two VGA cameras for video conferencing. Get inside however and the interface like the design isn’t much better, menu icons seem to close and in your face, while the actual placement of items seems at time illogical.

That’s not to say the phone isn’t without its features. The phone comes with the ability to store 40-channel polyphonic ring tones, MMS messaging, dual mode so it will still work on standard GSM networks, a Memory Stick Duo slot for saving out images, videos or MP3s, and the ability to sync it with Microsoft Outlook for calendar and contact info.

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When it comes to providing services there is plenty on offer full-length music videos from BMG, football action from the Barclays Premiership, video clips from the latest film releases or ITN News bulletins and more, but for us the task of having to carry around this unit only marred the experience.


In short we didn’t feel comfortable taking this out of our bag to answer a call. That’s not to say that inside the unit the phone doesn’t offer everything you would expect to want from a mobile phone, its just that never at any one point were we a impressed by the design or the interface of the phone. It felt cheap, clunky and more to the point outdated - Something that we didn’t think we would be saying out a phone that has only just come out. And when you compare it to what the traditional handset manufacturer are putting out against it you can’t but help feel that this phone will soon be forgotten.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 12 September 2004.