Released in 2003, The e616 was one of the first generation of 3G capable phones for the Hutchinson 3 network in the UK.
NEC were not a commonly known manufacturer of handsets in the UK, the market previously dominated by Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens at the time, with Samsung and Sony (Who’s mobile division would merge with Ericsson). In Japan they were known for their i-Mode handsets
Apologies for the poor image quality on some of these captures, since the only way to capture was using a camera pointed to the phone screen, which can yield in some weird effects on screen.
Bootup screen, there is a lot of 3 branding within the handsets firmware, it seems the handset was produced exclusively for Hutchinson 3G and was used in their international markets also.
The default home screen, the calendar can be set as the background, or the wallpaper can be displayed instead. The row of icons can be accessed by pressing the middle enter key, which acts as a shortcut bar or dock to access common phone functions. Items can be added here by pressing ‘Link this’ when you are in a menu.
There is also a task manager like function, which gives the impression that this is some sort of smartphone, perhaps Symbian based?
Menu scheme uses a grid like layout, shortcuts can be used by the number keypad. The quick menu is used to quickly access different phone functions without having to trawl through the main menu. Taskbar lets you select and reopen running background applications, a very smartphone like feature.
3Mail looks to be a remote email service provided by 3, to be an alternative to Blackberry push email that was offered at the time. Having email on your phone was still a high end feature that many phones were not capable of, and even the ones that did have severe restrictions in what emails could be displayed. Also many webmail email providers did not support third party POP3/IMAP clients, which these phones were classed as, so email would be part of the network provider.
Text messages can be composed and sent from here, the handset supports SMS and MMS Multimedia messages. There’s an option for a video message which is really a vieo clip attached to a multimedia message.
A full text editor is provided, with support for copy and paste and predictive text. An annoying feature is typing a message using the keypad, the phone makes DTMF sounds.
The phone also supports copy and paste, a feature that is rarely seen in feature phones.
Contacts can be created and saved to the phone memory or the USIM card
One of the big appeals of 3G phones was the advent of video calling, where you and the recipient could see and speak to each other in glorious CIF resolution. Here you can change the picture quality and the camera orientation mode
Set a greeting message and change the power on jingle
Here you can change the network selection, choose if you want the device to connect to 3G exclusively, and any access points settings.
Dial Lock – allows you to set a passcode that is entered via the keypad when the device is opened, when enabled you can only make emergency calls unless the code is entered
Side Key lock – prevents the side volume buttons from being pressed when the device is closed
Misc call settings, you can change the caller ID options, divers and waiting options.
Date and Time
Changes settings back to their default factory values
Access to multimedia features of the phone,
Capturing picture using the external camera. Both the front and rear camera can be used however both are limited to CIF resolution which is a bit low for this class of phone. Typically phones of this era use VGA resolution camera. Different effects can be applied. Both still images and video clips can be captured.
Sound can be recorded, up to 60 seconds in length and saved as an amr file
View images captured by the camera, or any images downloaded
Videos captured by the camera or downloaded videos from three can be played here, Videos are stored in the MPEG4 format.
Capable of playing the Midi ringtones, but can also play back MP3 encoded files, either on the built in phone memory or from the memory card, just be mindful of the 5Mb transfer limit. Music can be played though the headphones or through the built in speaker.
Same as the music player, but for the recorder voice clips stored on the device.
Add, set and remove reminders, and specify when the phone should alert you
Up to five different alarms can be set, with the option to set the reoccurrence to a selected number of days.
Similar to the Windows notepad, a text editor that lets you save up to 9 separate documents. Text is composed similar to an SMS message.
A calculator and a converter, the calculator is capable of simple sums, but scientific operations are not supported. The converter is cable to convert currency only, and has the option to specify the rate manually.
GPS and compass
Supposedly comes with a GPS feature built in, but I wasn’t able to get it calibrated, perhaps it’s dependant on the mobile network being functional?
The phone has the ability to run Java J2ME applications that are published and downloaded by 3. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to load the Java applications over USB or Bluetooth using the PC Software, so there’s not much to do here. I tried copying the Jad and Jar files over manually using the USB connection below but it didn’t work, seems the only way is to use the built in browser and download the games via the 3G network
This phone supports Bluetooth however it is very limited compared to other handsets, there’s no file transfer, only dial up networking and audio headset is supported.
The phone can connect to a Windows PC using a USB adaptor cable, and with the appropriate software installed. Here files can be transferred to and from the phone, and contacts can be synchronised using an external application
You can Sync contacts, calendar and To do lists from an external server, similar to how you can sync with Outlook or Gmail, only back in these days you had to use the Three server.
You can explore both the phone memory and the external memory card. Internally the device has 19Mb of available memory for use, and can support up to 128Mb of external memory, using the Sony Memory Stick Duo standard. You can also format the memory card, check its filesystem for errors and view the amount of space free for use.
Files can be copied or moved, or sent via the MMS if the file size is small enough, Bluetooth cannot be used to send or receive files.
When Three launched their 3G service in the UK, it was designed to be a walled garden where only 3 service could be accessed using the phones internal browser, and external web access was not supported. This meant it was not possible to browse WAP sites on the handset, the browser that ships with the phone is locked down to work with Three’s services only, and from the article below was supposed to be the Netfront browser.
ACCESS’ NetFront™ Microbrowser Selected for New NEC Handsets on Hutchinson 3G Network | ACCESS (access-company.com)