Naturally, the first thing you notice when you tear open the Prism's generous packaging materials is the handset's design. Nokia gives you a little preview of the goodness inside by printing similar geometric patterns on the box itself -- thoughtful, no? Anyway, the face is entirely glossy, while the back alternates between glossy and matte black triangles in a seemingly random pattern (the camera and flash peep through diamond and triangle windows, respectively). The sides transition at a hard, 90 degree angle -- befitting the phone's geometry theme, we suppose -- with chrome and blue (?) stripes sandwiched between black. The styling cues seemed to draw out all sorts of emotions; we personally didn't hate it or love it, but we definitely didn't think it had a particularly "premium" appearance.
From a distance, we figured we'd have all sorts of trouble with the triangular keys, but we were pleasantly surprised -- we consistently busted out numbers with total accuracy and reasonable speed. Our biggest problem ended up being with the thumbstick -- the Prism's directional input device of choice -- which was a little tight for our liking. Not a dealbreaker by any means, but something to keep in mind. The handset gets a dedicated volume rocker on the right side; it was a little too flush with the rest of the phone, making it difficult to locate quickly. Like the thumbstick, though, not a big deal.
As usual, Series 40 shows its just-shy-of-smartphone brilliance here, and having 5th Edition
loaded certainly doesn't hurt. The configurable Active Standby is extremely well-executed, the music player looks great, and in general, pretty much everything is where we'd expect it to be on a Nokia. Helping matters along is a simply gorgeous QVGA display and a loudspeaker that we actually found loud and crisp enough to use for the occasional tune or two. Imagine that!
So yeah, phones are still made to call people, so how'd that go? Reception was quite good, especially considering that the Asia-specific Prism lacks GSM 850, but call quality was an issue for us. Calls generally sounded tinny on the earpiece and we could've used a bit more volume, so we'd consider the Prism a "headset first, handset second" kinda phone.
Do we recommend the Prism? It's always hard to give a strong recommendation to a tri-band GSM phone, especially one that's intended to be used primarily in the States. But if you can find one for a good price, it sure makes a good conversation piece -- and we can pretty much guarantee you'll be the only Prism owner in any company.