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Nokia 1208 (Mobile phone)

Nokia 1208 is a mobile phone targeted at the low end consumer base. It is one of the cheapest phones I have seen and often it is given for a symbolic price or free by the phone operators with one or two year contracts. Last year it was around 40.00 BGN with 2 years contract at M-Tel, now I have seen it for 9.90 BGN with 1 year contract on Vivatel. Brand new, without a contract, it costs between 41.00 and 67.00 BGN. I love to tinker with various devices, so I lend a Nokia 1208 phone for a testing period of several weeks, while still holding my main phone, the Toshibo V9+i for the contact list and side by side comparison between the phones. I did not transfer my contact list over the phone, but I was able to use it nevertheless.


Nokia 1208 phone package. The phone comes in a small green paper box with dimensions of 113 mm X 90 mm X 64 mm. On the box are pictures of the phone with the colour display showing one phone picture with the two hands Nokia logo, going for shake, and on the front the same phone with red coloured front panel, just to show the possibility for different colour combinations. On the back is a short feature list with most important notes about the phone:

  • Colour display 65k,
  • Nokia easy to use menu,
  • New improved flashlight,
  • MP3-grade and 32-polyphonic ringtones,
  • Dust resistant keypad,
  • Multi phonebook and call duration to manage call cost

On the sides of the box are placed stickers with the phone model and IMEI number, along with modification type (Black in my case) and GSM specifications - 900/1800 and EGSM 850/1900 and some other data. The phone I had was made in Hungary.
Inside the package are the phone itself, a battery, a charger, an user manual for Nokia 1200 and Nokia 1208 and Declaration of Conformity. The phone I had was black with dark gray back panel and battery cover. It has dimensions of 102 mm X 44 mm X 18 mm and easily fits in any pocket. The battery, model BL-5CA was original Nokia accessory with the hologram sticker on it. The charger was black, with the new type of jack, incompatible with my Nokia N-Gage, because it is smaller. The manual consisting of 48 pages total, have description about the Nokia accessories for Nokia phones, safety guide, SIM card and battery installation, basic installation, battery information, care and support and additional safety information. Well written, the small book includes the basics need to start using the phone right away.


Installation of the phone is easy. Open the phone back cover, by sliding it down, remove the battery if it is in it, push the metal SIM card holder up, to be able to open it, put the SIM card, return the hold back, until it ticks, put the battery with the metal connectors heading to the up left, until it clicks as well. Finally close the cover by sliding it up, until it ticks too and the phone is ready for use.


Nokia 1208 phone with the NOKIA shaking hands logo. The phone is switched on, by holding the red key (End of call) for only 2 seconds. A blue Nokia logo appears on the screen, then if the SIM card is placed properly, appears the Enter PIN code: screen. After entering the PIN code, the well known Nokia animation with the two shaking hands is shown, along with the tune. First thing to be noticed on the colour screen is that it is very pixelated. Every screen pixel is easily distinguished from the others, while this was not case with the Nokia N-Gage, where it has only 4096 colours, but not such pixelization on the screen. The icons showing the network coverage strenght, the Keypad lock and battery charge are only in six colours with very schematic view, representing low quality graphics. From here the phone can be used normally. To call a number simply enter it with the keypad and press the green key for call. To end call, press the red key. Pressing the left Navi key, goes directly to write message screen, down enters the Contact list, right is for the calendar and up is to turn on the flash light. When pressing the left selection key, the menu is entered, where the icons representing the submenus are better drawn, than the icons on the main screen, with pretty colours, taking advantage of the full palette, given by the phone LCD. The menus are easy to navigate, by pressing left-right or up-down on the Navi keys. The number keys does not work here unlike in Symbian, where they can be used for fast menu selections. The current option which can be selected by pressing the left selection key is represented by a text on the top and a big icon on the left under the text. Right to the icon are represented by smaller icons, the next two options which can be navigated to by pressing the right or down Navi keys, once or twice. The previous menu selection is not viewable, but taking into account that there are not many options, it is easy to roll over all the options and select the desired one. The first option is the Messages, from where another selection menu is given for Create message, Inbox, Sent items, Drafts, Chat, Picture messages, Distribution lists, Screened messages, Delete messages, Message counter, Message settings and Service com. editor. All these suboptions are represented by nice colourful icons, which are easy to remember for the different options. Having the Messages options in the first submenu is set this way probably because Nokia decided that the SMS will be most used and is good to be accessed very fast. This is not the case with me, where I can not even remember when was the last time I wrote an SMS from the phone, even if I have some available, free of charge, every month. It is much easier to simply call the person, instead losing a minute to write some very short text trying to say as much as you can. Most of the time, I prefer to send SMS from computer. The Picture messages may be fun for someone, but the stored in the phone pictures are black and white, only thirty available for selection.

The next option is the Contacts, where contacts can be searched, added, deleted, copied, made as speed dials, entered into the phone memory or the SIM card, screened, or viewed the service numbers. The phone book is powerful and easy to use, making the phone nice to use for what it is mostly aimed for - talking. Every contact can have image associated with it, selected from a set of 27 images, which makes the distinguish of the various contacts more easier.

Next on the menu is the Call register, where the Missed calls, Received calls and Dialled numbers can be seen and called. Also available is Delete recent call lists option, along with Call duration and Message counter.

After the Call register is the Settings menu, from where the Tone settings, Display settings, Profiles, Time settings, Call settings, Phone settings, Cost settings, Security settings and Right selection key settings can be tweaked to any preference of the user. If something goes messy, there is the last option to Restore factory settings. I found useful in the Security settings to turn off the PIN code request, especially for this phone. I had an accident, where I was at place where I was not allowed to call or receive phone conversations, so to be calm, I turned the phone off and put it in my pocket. But because I moved a lot there, the phone incidentally turned on, by pressing the red key for only two seconds. This probably happened several times, because when I tried to turn it on, it said PIN code rejected and I shall enter PUK code, which I did not know. It seems that the phone was very easy to be turned on and pressed random keys on it, during movements when it was in my pocket. Finally to be on the safe side, I removed the battery, to be sure that it will not turn on again and went to my phone operator office, where they unblocked the SIM and restored it to PIN entry. I felt relaxed, but not very comfortable with this phone anymore. Turning the PIN code off is at least some sort of protection for such incidents, but it does not mean that other incidents can not happen.

Following the Settings are the Alarm clock and Reminders options. These options are very useful for waking up person at the morning or for alarming him that he have to go to work. The alarm can be set to various melodies, and the repeat can be set to Alarm once or Repeat alarm. In the Reminders can be added alarm reminders to any date in the calendar, all can be viewed, the calendar can be shown and reminders deleted One by one or All at once. The alarm tone can be set to standard or any of the 29 ringing tones available in the phone. The reminders can also be sent to phone numbers, but this is done manually. If the reminders were able to be sent automatically, this can be very handy for sending happy birthday messages for example.


Nokia 1208 is not a gaming phone and not advertised as such. But having 65 536 colour display, despite the low resolution opens the possibility for wide range of games. Included in the phone are three games. I found all of them fun to play and they kept me busy for some hours. The Games menu is next to the Reminders and the games have Settings for Game sounds (On/Off) and Shakes (also On/Off).

Nature Park

Nokia 1208 phone with the game Nature Park. Nature Park is a nice Columns clone. The game starts with colourful intro picture of the first level character, flying with balloons in the sky. The character have the NOKIA text on his flying machine. The game is played on 6X10 cells playfield. Right to the gaming playfield at the top is shown the next columns falling and under them is the flying character. On the right are the Score and the High points. The game starts at very easy level, but it gets harder pretty fast. When gaining 30 points, the character changes, then after 100 points the character is replaced by another one. Every character have its own set of emotions and the second get very worried when the end is near. The game can be played with the numerical keys or with the Navi (scroll) keys. The game is very easy to implement, and I have done Columns clone for Amiga and Apple II in the form of Colorix, but the realization as seen on this phone is very good. The colourful graphics, the additional characters and the sound are good, and adds spice to the old game idea. The only minor drawback is that the colours chosen for the colums are not always contrasting very well with the playfield, but this is easy to get used to. The slow screen reaction is not a problem at the beginning, but at the later levels, it can be an obstacle. Nevertheless I like playing this game and place it as the best of the three.

Rapid Roll

Nokia 1208 phone with the game Rapid Roll. Rapid Roll is a fast action game requiring speed, reflexes and sometime luck can come handy too. The idea is again simple, but very addictive. The game starts with a nice screen of animal holding a big red ball. The player controls this red ball, which falls on blue platforms, while the screen scrolls down. The aim of the game is the ball to not go out of the screen, also to not hit the spike platforms. There are lives to be collected during the fall, in the form of red hearts. The game requires only two keys - for left and right movement (4 and 6 or scroll keys) and is very easy to master. It also becomes boring much faster than the previous game. The implementation is okay for this type of game, the graphics are basic, but still colourful and the scroll is almost perfectly smooth, but gets hard on the eyes very easy, which may force the player to try his luck with moving left and right without watching. The sounds are also simple, and not very enjoyable. From the three games presented, this game gets the lowest score.

Snake Xenzia

Snake Xenzia is another classic game idea, implemented on the phone. The first game of this kind which I remember, was Cherveiche for Oric. Later, I loved Snake Byte for Apple II with the many levels it had. The game starts with an animation of a short red snake passing through the screen from left to right. The player controls this snake with the use of the scroll keys or 2/4/6/8 keys. The game is played on a single stage, placed on almost all of the screen, except of the bottom part, where the score is written, under a white line. Nokia 1208 phone with the game Snake Xenzia. The player have to collect food by controlling the snake. There are two types of food - blue (normal) food, which appears every time the player eats the previous blue food and red (bonus) food, which is bigger and have to be collected in a short period of time in order to gain bonus points. When eating, the snake gets longer and longer, and the player have to manage his tail through the screen to be able to eat more and more and collect more points. There is only one level, but at least the snake can warp from the screen edges - from up to down and from right to left and the other way around. The lack of levels and the repetitive gameplay makes the player to lose motivation pretty soon, but nevertheless I place this game as second best from the three given with the phone.

The games on Nokia 1208, unlike the Nokia N-Gage can be played with one hand, which is very handy in the public transport, where if you are upright, you need one hand to hold yourself in a permanent position.

After the Games is the Extras option, where Calculator, Conventer, Countdown timer, Calendar, Stopwatch, Composer, Flashlight and Demo options are given to the user. The Calculator is very basic, but yet useful, the Conventer have options for Temperature, Weight, Length, Area, Volume and Currency. The user also can set his own conversion types. The composer is nice to have, but I found it very hard to use and the polyphonic capabilities of the phone can not be used with it. So the composed tune is only a simple single channel melody, not very nice to listen, compared to the others built-in the phone, using it's capabilities for almost MP3 alike quality replay. Nokia 1208 phone with flashlight turned on. The Flashlight is strong and can come handy, but on the other phones I have, I just use their screen light and it does the job good enough. The Demo option come very interesting to me and I have not seen it before. By choosing it, the user can see directly shown on the screen, step by step, how to do basic procedures of the phone usage, also some more complex operations like setting an alarm, changing ringing tone or selecting theme. Very detailed animation, including representation of the keys which have to be pressed is shown to the user, so he can remember easy for the next time, what exactly to do.


Nokia 1208 is a nice phone to use and have. It works as phone very nice, and if the intent is to only speak via the phone, it does the job nicely. It is very lightweight. The battery is charged very fast, but also discharges fast when used. If I had no other phone, I would use it, but I returned it after the test period and went back to the Toshibo V9+i phone, which I liked much more, because of all the extra functions which it has and the Nokia 1208 lacks.

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