The reviewed Nokia 101 is a cheap and simple dual-SIM mobile phone for calls and SMS.
I have had my hands on the Nokia 101, an extremely cheap (around 25 EUR) and simple feature-phone, which is basically the same as the Nokia 100 (around 20 EUR) with some features added on the former.
Nokia 101 & 100 Features and Specs
The Nokia 101 and 100 run S30 software, displayed on a 1.8-inch 128×160 65K color screen. Due to their very basic and low-cost nature, the 101 and 100 don’t include some features that are standard in like 90 percent of today’s mobile phones. They lack data connectivity so you can’t access the web, check emails, or send MMS, and there are neither Bluetooth nor camera, not to mention Wi-Fi.
However, the reviewed Nokia 101 model is a dual-SIM phone and it’s a dual-SIM dual-standby one. In addition, the 101 has a music player, accompanied by a microSD card slot with support for up to 16GB, while FM radio and a 3.5mm jack are present on both mobiles, as well as a flashlight.
The BL-5CB battery found in the review unit has a capacity of 800mAh.
Both phones weigh around 70 grams, and their dimensions are 110-by-45.5-by-14.9 mm.
The Nokia 101 comes in black and red colors only, whereas the 100 ships in black, two blue variants, pink, or red.
Look and Feel, Build Quality
On the outside, the 101 and 100 come cladded in plastics-only bodies, which do look a little bit cheap, but they are not flimsy at all. The body is matte and gives an impression of scratch resistance, but the screen is glossy and will likely collect scratches over time.
The cell phones have numeric keyboards with backlight. The keys are well spaced and provide a decent tactile feedback in the same manner as the navigation and call buttons above it, so in this part I have nothing to complain about.
If you ever used an S30-based phone, you will not have any problem using the Nokia’s latest ultra-cheap models. The main Menu on the tested phone is simple to navigate and use, and the interface is very fast and responsive. It includes access to SMS messaging, Contacts with contact lists from both SIM cards and the phones’ memory in one place on the 101, a standard call register, Music containing MP3 and FM player on the Nokia 101 and FM only on the 100, Games section with six simple games, Clock with alarm functionality, and Extras category with a reminder, calculator, calendar, flashlight activator, and other. Of course, there’s also the Settings part.
Phone Call Quality and Voice Leakage
Regarding making phone calls (and that’s the main use of these non-Android non-iOS phones), the call quality, loudness, and signal reception are good, but in the phone calling field lies the main problem with the reviewed unit.
It’s voice leakage. When the opposite side is talking, her/his voice can be not only heard through the main speaker hole located on the top-front, but also through the back hole used for the loudspeaker. I find this problem very bad, since voice volume on the back is only slightly lower than on the front, so a person standing next to you can hear your talker pretty clearly. The solution for this can be use of the included in-ear headphones, which are by the way of a standard quality for most cheap feature-mobiles. Or, you can lower the phone speaker sound. Another solution is to put something on one of the sides of the hole on the back cover to prevent voice leakage, but I’m not sure if it’s safe to do something like this, especially when it comes to warranty terms and it will lower loudness of the loudspeaker when used. By the way, the loudspeaker is pretty loud with a decent sound quality.
Dual-SIM Use on Nokia 101
When it comes to calls, I would also like to share my experience with dual-SIM capability of the reviewed model. As mentioned above, it’s really dual-SIM dual-standby, meaning that you can use both cards simultaneously all the time, except during phone calls when only the used card for that call is active. It’s not like some dual-SIM single-standby cell phones which can run only one card at a time.
When you want to make an outgoing call, you will be offered with a choice to use 1st or 2nd SIM card after you type in the phone number or choose a contact from the list. So dual-SIM use is very simple and intuitive.
A battery life is usually lower when both SIMs are used, when compared to a single SIM. The battery life on the BL-5CB 800mAh-powered 101 lasts up to 6.7 hours of talk time, according to the specs, while for the 100 it’s 7.2 hours with the same battery, probably longer due to single-SIM design. I will add more info on the battery performance in this part of the review after one week of use. So far, during a one day use with about 1.5 hours of talk time and a little bit of FM, MP3 music via loudspeaker, and a minute or two of torchlight use, the battery drained approximately 25 percent, so I assume Nokia’s estimation is correct. Added 01/19/2012: My final conclusion is that the battery life lasts about six hours for phone calls and a little bit of MP3 playback.
Nokia 101 Review Conclusion
You can’t expect too much from phones such as the Nokia 101 and 100, priced at around 25 and 20 Euros (in Germany at the time of this writing), respectively. But, both do almost perfectly what they are intended to do – to provide customers with exceptionally affordable mobiles for talk and SMS and in addition they deliver some extras, such as music features and torchlight. I said “almost” perfectly, because I can’t overlook the voice leakage problem and would like to see at least Bluetooth for transfer of contacts and music (to the 101), no matter how a phone cheap is.
If you have any questions and comments regarding this review and the phone itself, please use the comment system below.
If you are looking for a similar phone, but with Internet connectivity and Bluetooth, you can check out the review of the Nokia 112.
Nokia 101 Video