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NEC 343i

The NEC 343i is O2 ’s ‘entry level’ handset for the i-mode® service, and many things about it certainly feel entry level. Before I get to that though, I have to mention this phone’s looks: it’s like Apple suddenly started manufacturing mobiles. It’s sleek, it feels great (thanks to the aluminium casing) and for you lovers of minimalist design, it’s single port (used for the only thing you can plug into it, the charger) is the only thing intruding on those sleek lines, and even that’s got a cover. The keys light up blue when you press them too.

So we’ve established that this is one sexy looking phone. But like so many other things in life, it’s good looks hide a pretty unsatisfactory interior. You may have noticed my statement that the only thing that plugs into the 343i is the charger, well that’s sadly true. Headphones? No. USB cable? No. Memory Card? No. Bluetooth and/or IRDA to make up for this lack of connectivity? No. Yes folks, this phone is minimalist in features as well as looks (appropriately, I suppose).

Contrary to some reports, I can confirm that there is a camera on the phone. A colossal 300K Pixel camera. You heard me right, 300 Kilo Pixels—needless to say, the images are not of the greatest quality.

The i-mode® browser on the phone is decent enough—it’s not as buggy as the Samsung, but not as featured as the 411. It renders pages reliably, but basically, with many advanced formatting features ignored by the basic layout engine—presumably to avoid and potential clashes with the low resolution (128 × 160) screen.

The screen is another sticking point for me. It’s not the size, so much as the contrast; everything looks washed out and desaturated, like you’re looking at the screen through a film of soapy water. It’s crisp enough, but it’s impossible to get away from the fact that the i-web looks very foggy when viewed through this phone. It’s weird, as the colour depth (64k) is the same as the NEC 411—it must just be the cheaper, lower quality display.

The joypad device on this phone is incredibly frustrating to use, and the keys themselves feel far too mechanical for such a futuristic looking device.

If the screen extended to the edges of the phone (see image above), had better contrast, and there was at least some connectivity, a media player, and a better camera, this would be the best phone I’ve ever seen. There isn’t, so it isn’t. It makes calls, it lets you view the i-mode® network. That’s it.

Key specifications

NEC 343i
Size 105 × 44 × 12 mm
Weight 105g
Java DoJa 1.5
Connectivity none
Camera CMOS 300K pixels
Screen size 128 × 160 pixels
Wallpaper screen size 128 × 160 pixels
Browsing/DoJa screen size 128 × 128 pixels
Colours 64k
Second screen none
Browser Access Inc. CNF+
Languages supported iHTML, iXHTML
Max page size 20kB
Size limit 50KB
Capacity inbox: 860KB, outbox: 430KB

Any further questions about this handset then leave them in the comments below and we’ll respond as soon as possible, and don’t forget, you can buy the NEC343i phone exclusively from O2 .

Posted on by Jordan | permanent link

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