It's always cute to see toddlers dressed in adult clothing; babies in studded leather jackets and their feet wrapped in Converse sneakers. So does the same apply to tweens using BlackBerry clones while their parents chat on Bolds and Pearls?
It's all but impossible to look at the B3210 and not imagine it's been picked from the BlackBerry bush. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the B3210 is like Samsung complimenting Research in Motion on a new haircut, laughing at all its jokes and sending over flowers and chocolates with a cute card. Side by side with the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the B3210 shares much more than its basic shape and glossy black exterior, as the position of the menu keys and curvature of the QWERTY keyboard are very similar, and the rim around the base of the keyboard seem familiar too.
Here the similarities end though, as too close a comparison between these two phones would be a great disservice to the excellent Bold. The B3210 sports a low resolution 2.2-inch display, a 3.5mm headphone socket and micro-USB charging, plus microSD memory compatibility up to 8GB.
Its full QWERTY keyboard should be the highlight, though the tiny size of the keys and the cramped spacing between them makes it very hard to type on as quickly as a full keyboard should allow you to. At this stage, we would often add a statement saying that people with smaller fingers, like the intended teen market, might have a better time with the keyboard than the editors here at CNET, but we won't say this for the B3210. The keys are so small you'd need to have fingers tapered to a fine point to use this keyboard with any precision.
One thing we do like is the two extra battery covers that come with the handset. You get a choice between a black and two white covers, with stylish green circles on one of the white covers. This is a simple touch, and certainly not for everyone, but we like to have choices like this for making the phone feel like our own.
Samsung has kitted out the B3210 with just enough tools and tricks to satisfy simple phone appetites. It obviously features some decent messaging options to complement the QWERTY keyboard. These include conversational "threaded" messaging in the SMS client and support for POP3 and IMAP email including popular web mail accounts.
The B3210's multimedia offerings are pretty slim. There's a music player supporting MP3, AAC and WMA files, and a video player that is capable of playing MP4 files. There's no internal memory though, so you'll either need to buy an optional microSD memory card before you can make use of these features or make use of the built-in FM radio to listen to tunes.
If you're hoping to use your phone as a mobile web browser you'll be disappointed to know that the B3210 is a 2G phone only. This means web data will crawl like a snail over the now well-outdated GPRS transfer protocol at about 50Kbps. The web browser in the phone is OK so long as you only visit mobile versions of sites. Trying to visit the full-sized CNET web page is enough to produce an error message.
Overall, the B3210 behaves well as a basic mobile phone — if you have the tiny digits to use the keyboard. Call quality was almost too loud during our tests, with the earpiece speaker blasting sound into our ears at full volume, though it's hard to find fault with this — we'd much prefer a phone speaker which is too loud than too quiet.
We would have loved to have seen a 3G version of this handset to speed up our everyday internet fix of Facebook and Google Reader page visits. The lack of 3G no doubt helps keep the cost down, but it's sure to irritate teens who would otherwise use a phone to stay connected.