If you find yourself yearning for the days when mobiles had batteries that lasted longer than a day and screens that didn't shatter at the first sign of a stiff breeze, you might be impressed by the Nokia 3720 Classic. This rugged beast aims to provide you with some of the luxuries the modern mobile world, while channelling phones of old. Available for £110 SIM-free, it won't break the bank either.
The 3720 is IP54 certified, which means it's protected against a limited amount of dust ingress, and water sprayed from all directions, allowing for a limited amount of the wet stuff to get into the device itself.
In reality, that's not a great deal of protection -- don't expect the 3720 to survive long in truly punishing conditions. The phone's screen will scratch just as easily as that of any other device. Plus, the charger socket at the base of the handset is open to the elements, which means it won't survive much exposure to water. The protection you are afforded is still considerably more than most mobiles offer, however -- it's liable to survive the odd tumble out of a taxi, or into a pint.
Tiny but tough
The 3720 is fairly small, at 115mm long and just under 50mm across, but it packs plenty of bulk into that small package -- it weighs 94g and feels quite substantial to hold. Many rugged devices are covered with a rubberised layer, but, with the 3720, Nokia has instead opted for a solid mesh of thick plastic and metal. The whole package certainly feels robust, and the build quality is good -- we didn't find any flex when we applied pressure to the handset.
The keypad is of the alpha-numeric variety and the keys are quite rubbery. While they're not as responsive as normal, non-rugged plastic keys, they're not too small or fiddly, and we didn't notice any problems with key presses failing to register. The 3720's battery cover is tightly sealed, held in place with a single screw joint, and a removable seal at the base of the handset hides a micro-USB cable connector, space to plug in some headphones, and the charger port. That charger input is worryingly accessible through the seal, meaning it isn't protected from the ravages of dust and water.
The 3720 packs a decent number of features into its super-solid shell -- a 2-megapixel camera with a 4x digital zoom and LED flash is on hand, and you'll also get video recording at up to 11 frames per second. Neither the camera nor the video recorder will produce anything particularly beautiful, but, if you're not fussed about image or video quality, the camera software is pretty easy to use and is unlikely to annoy you. Elsewhere, navigation is similarly intuitive, and, although we noticed occasional lag when cruising through menus, it's unlikely to prove much of an annoyance.
Life on the Edge
The 3720 supports Edge connectivity, so you'll be able to do some light Web browsing and set up email forwarding, although don't expect any Web-connections to be particularly fast. You'll get 20MB of on-board storage, and space for a microSD card to expand the available memory by up to 8GB. Battery life is impressive -- expect around a week and a half of standby time and 7 hours of talk time from a full charge.
The 3720 also features a music player, which supports an impressive range of formats, including MP3, MP4 and WMA. You'll have to use a set of 2.5mm headphones, which are rather hard to come by. There are some bundled with the phone but they're pretty uncomfortable and certainly won't please anyone with a more discerning ear. As for the minor business of calling people -- we found call quality was pretty solid, coming through loud and clear.
The Nokia 3720 isn't exactly an innovation -- if anything it harks back several years to when phones were much simpler. But it's easy to use, boasts impressive battery life, won't hurt your wallet too much and should survive a tumble down the stairs. If you're in the market for a standard, reliable mobile with none of the flashy extras, the 3720 will satisfy you.
If you're looking for a rugged phone, can spend more and need something more hardcore, you might consider the Sonim XP2.10 Spirit, with its unconditional three-year guarantee. Alternatively, if what you like about the 3720 is the simplicity and the low price, you could even check out the hyper-affordable Tesco VX1 Party Phone.