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Review of GSM handset Nokia 6103

Sales package:

  • Handset
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • Adapter for using an old style charger
  • Stereo headset
  • Manual

Nokia decided to update its pretty much popular model in clamshell form-factor, Nokia 6101. Updated models index is 6103. Differences between two are minimal, although some may be critical when making their choice. Nokia 6103 has different case surface, as well as built-in Bluetooth module. Remaining differences are minor.

Models design has not suffered any serious changes, manufacturers replaced front panel, and now it has decorative cover, its what Nokia 6101 was missing. External antenna was slightly redesigned, in case with 6101, it was sharper, 6103s is a bit cut-off and has metal plate on the top. Its weird that the company decided not to remove external antenna, a lot of users hate it, and they would love to get rid of it. On other hand, people who are not that keen on mobile gadgets, will find external antenna as source of additional network reception level. This model is presented only in one case color (with silver cover on front panel).

Phones dimensions remained untouched (85x45x24 mm), but the weight was increased by 2 grams comparing to predecessor, and is 97 grams now, against 95 grams of 6101. Phone fits inside jeans pocket without any problems, however it is slightly big for shirts pocket. This handset fits nicely into ones palm, and it is quite easy to open it with one hand, because of pretty big deepening along the case.

Case is made of proof plastic, its quality is fine. 6103, unlike its predecessor, has different case surface, 6101s surface was easily soiled, and now its replaced with rougher one, which reminds of rubber by tactile feeling. This solution made operating the handset a far more enjoyable activity. And you are not aware that the phone may slip out of your hand. The only disadvantage of such surface is that at certain angle you can see stains that originate from your hands.

Coupled volume button is set on left side. Our sample had pretty big backlash, thats why it was always trembling, it isnt a loud sound, more of annoying one. There are no concerns about keys layout, while talking, you will easily find this button and adjust the volume.

PTT activation button is located on right side, and IrDA window is just underneath. Loudspeaker is located on top side, and interface connector (Pop-Port) is in the bottom, by the way, its the new version. Unlike units predecessor, where you had old style charger in package together with adapter for new one, 6103 already has new charger suited for new connector type. . A strap hole is placed on the bottom end, and to fix the strap you'll have to remove the back cover.

A VGA-camera gap is on the top part; in appearance it resembles the one in LG F2300 and F2400. Like in the mentioned models this one has a square shape and silvery edging. A little below an external cSTN display is placed, it is 96x65 pixels (26x19 mm) in resolution and shows 4096 colours. The screen quality is middling, so that in the sun it completely fades and making out information gets impossible. Both internal and external screens have separate backlighting lamps, which helps saving energy.

In the standby mode you'll see an operator's name, selected profile, clock, signal level and a charge level on the screen. When listening to the radio, you can see the name of the radio station (if it was saved) and the frequency. At an incoming call, either a caller's name or a phone number is shown; however, a picture appears if it was assigned to the contact. A picture bound to a contact is shown as a thumbnail on the bottom of the screen. Much of your imagination is required to make anything on it.

Once you open the phone you can see middle-sized TFT display with 128x160 pixel resolution, that is capable of showing up to 65k colors. Displays quality is average, it would have been great if Nokia replaced it with a better one, but unfortunately this has not been done. Screen turns pale when it hits the sun, but in case you have the guts, you can still read the information.

Keyboard is made of plastic, navigation key consists of big four-positional button with Ok button implemented inside. Two soft-keys and accept/decline call buttons are joined into one block, which is located around navigation key. Such layout does not affect comfort level, but it does give slightly unusual look to the keyboard. Keypad is similar to Nokia 6101, except for the fact that Nokia 6103 buttons seem to look like theyd been cut on plastic. Buttons seem to be smaller, but in fact their size is identical, its just that working part is slightly smaller.

Keypad buttons are big, they are formed in three vertical rows. It is convenient to work with them, when dialing phone number or message, you will not have misprints. Backlight color is blue, it is equally spread among the surface.

Almost the whole back of the phone is taken by a battery cover. The fastening is reliable, no backlash is observed.

A 760 mAh Li-Ion battery goes with the device. According to the maker, the phone can work for about 350 hours in the standby mode and up to 4 hours in the talk mode. In Moscow it lasted for approximately 2 days in case of 30 minutes of talks a day and up to 30 minutes of using other functions. If talking more, you'll have to charge daily. And full recharging takes about 1.5 hours.


The main menu looks like vertical lists, and a small icon specifies each item. The first submenu level is designed the same way, and the second one is shown as vertical lists. Number navigation works in the phone, besides, you can add necessary functions to an active-menu for faster access. The left-side button is responsible for accessing the active-menu from standby mode. Besides, you can assign fast access to the necessary menu items from standby mode to the navi button and the right functional one (the default value is calling the phonebook). But that is not all of the settings; voice tags are assignable as well.

The localization is rather good, abbreviations are almost absent. Predictive text input T9 is realized for both Russian and English.

This handset has 4.2mb of memory (according to official specifications), it is spread dynamically between applications; this is by 400kb less, than in case with previous model. Unfortunately, the amount of memory was decreased, and not vice versa, a lot of users would love to get some more available memory.

Phonebook. The phone memory can contain about 500 contacts; however, the number can reduce at the maximum possible numbers entered for each contact. About 5 numbers can be bound to a name, each allows selecting a type (mobile, work, home, fax). Besides, about 5 extra fields can be filled for each contact - e-mail address, post address, PTT, WEB, or a text note. A picture or a photo can be assigned to a contact; finally, you can create a tag for voice dialing.

Each contact is available for assigning to any group created by a user. You can keep a name, a call melody and a picture for a group. Fast dialing for 8 numbers is possible.

The first letters of the name are used for search. Both contacts from the internal memory and SIM card are shown, besides you can select only one source to take contacts from.

The realization of the Photo ID function remained the same as in other company models. As we have already told, the external screen shows a tiny photo, with a hard to make out image. The internal screen has the situation a bit improved, and shows photos on 1/3 of the display.

Messages. The device has a support for Nokia Smart Messaging and that allows sending and receiving melodies and plain black and white pictures from compatible devices. Phones by Samsung, LG and some new devices by Motorola support the standard besides Nokia. Up to 10 graphical templates are preset for such messages. Unfortunately the company standard limits the users because an alternative EMS standard is spread wider today and allows not only send and receive melodies and pictures but also format texts. Besides there is a set of 17 smiles and 11 text templates. Flash message that you can also create will only appear on the receiver's screen and won't save in the phone memory or SIM. Also you can use a chat function, then all the messages are shown on the one screen.

MMS editor is plain and clear. You can create several slides.

Sound message also can refer to an MMS, instantly a Dictaphone starts to record a voice message.

The device has an integrated mail client working with POP3/SMTP protocols. The possibilities of the client are very poor, it doesn't support attachments, and the device "understands" only one Russian coding. With no alternative program available, you can use this one though.

Call lists. There is a list of 20 incoming, missed and outgoing calls. Similar numbers are united and time of call is specified near them.

Also here are the numbers you sent messages to. Time and data counters are here.

Settings. Totally each of the 6 present profiles can be edited.

Themes. Three themes are preinstalled in the phone. They allow changing the phone appearance with a colour scheme and wall-papers. Besides, you can download extra themes from the company site.

Call signals can be selected from usual, increasing, once, short or silent. A call melody can be set from here and vibra can be turned off. The Vibracall can act simultaneously with a melody.

Display. For both internal and external screens you can select a picture as a wall-paper, a headband and a colour scheme.

Connections. Here you can activate IrDA which is fully functional and works flawlessly with other devices. Settings for GPRS and EDGE are found in the same menu.

Bluetooth. This handset has Bluetooth v1.2, which supports following profiles:

  • Dial-up networking;
  • Audio Gateway;
  • Object Push;
  • File Transfer;
  • COM port.

Bluetooth module works without any problems it had no issues with bounding to other devices, sending and receiving files. No problems were encountered during usage of Bluetooth hands-free sets.

Other phone settings are in this section too.

Gallery. This is a plain file manager, files are distributed into folders. You can add your own folders.

Organizer. One alarm clock is available; it can act daily and on selected days as well. You can select a signal for it and set a recurrence period.

Calendar. You can view it both monthly and weekly with a division into hours. Besides, all the events can be listed. Select a type (meeting, call, birthday, note, and reminder), assign a theme (up to 160 characters), place (about 50 characters), date and time for start and end. A call signal can be chosen and time for a preliminary reminder.

Tasks. You can enter a theme (about 160 characters), set priority (high, medium, low), set date and time, and turn a signal on with an opportunity of specifying the time for a preliminary reminder.

Notes. Plain text notes are possible to create from here. The max number of characters should not exceed 3000.

Synchronization. The handset supports work with a standard Nokia Suite including IrDA and Bluetooth use.

Here is a plain calculator, a stopwatch with intermediate values and a countdown timer.

Applications. Three games are placed here: Canal Control (logical game), Golf Tour (everything clear) and Solitaire (a popular card game).

Besides, you can install own Java applications both via WAP and via IrDA, Bluetooth. The size of the installed Java application can't exceed 125 KB. An interesting fact is only files less than 80 KB are received via IrDA.

PTT. Everything concerning a Push to Talk function is here.

Internet. Here is a WAP browser version 2.0.

Multimedia. Here you can find a radio, which can work in standby mode. Automatically the device searches for stations and can save them into the memory. Pressing a button on the headset is enough for switching between the stations. Only with a headset connected you can have the radio playing though the loudspeaker. Reception quality is good, all stations had good coverage while we were in the city. Unlike its predecessor, new wired stereo headset HS-23 is shipped in every package of Nokia 6103. This headset has better headphones, that provide good sound quality, and now on the remote control you can find not only answer key, but also three-positioned volume control key, and once you press it in center you will activate PTT. Just like in case with predecessor, short key presses of accept key allow switching stations stored in phones memory.

Dictaphone allows both recording in standby mode and during a conversation. The max record duration should not exceed 5 minutes.

Camera. An integrated camera allows VGA photos and a portrait size as well - 80x96 pixels. The photos quality on the screen is middling. On a PC they look not so bad, though not very good. Camera settings are ascetic, to tell the truth. Night mode and three types of photo compression are available. The file format of stored photos is JPEG.

Nokia 6101

(+) maximmize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximmize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximmize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximmize, 640x480, JPEG

Photos can be viewed either as thumbnails (three photos on the screen), or one by one.

The video recorded is 15 seconds clips in 3GP format (128x96 pixels, with AMR sound). You can set the maximum clip duration, then records can last for several minutes (0.7 MB are enough for two minutes). The clips are of middling quality, and the sound can be different to pronounced phrases. On a PC they look bad as well, and the function is mainly entertaining for use on the phone.


The device provides normal connection quality causing no problems. Almost in any case you'll find the loudspeaker volume and microphone sensitivity enough. The 40-tones polyphony sounds well, MP3 files can serve as call melodies. Speakerphone is present; it can be turned on pressing the right functional key during a conversation. The realization is average, the volume is enough not always.

Voice dialing feature works smoothly, phone recognizes your voice almost every time. In order to activate this function, you should just hold Answer key on your phone, or on headset.

As we said in the beginning, Nokia 6103 has very few differences from its predecessor, Nokia 6101. Updated handset is more attractive for men, due to new color solution and surface, also slightly updated external antenna made a positive point. Presence of Bluetooth together with voice dialing will attract some more new buyers. Another lucrative deal is presence of EDGE. Unfortunately, the company decided not to extend amount of internal memory, and thats a miss. Presence of PTT function is not actual at the moment, but you will have to pay for that no matter you like it or no.

Current average price is around 240 USD, this is about 20-25 dollars more than Nokia 6101 costs. This model has pretty much competitors in this price segment.

Vladimir Fokin (vladimir.fokin@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Alexandr "Lexx" Zavoloka (alexander.zavoloka@mobile-review.com)

Published — 05 May 2006

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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