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Nokia C6-00 GSM/UMTS Smartphone Review
Live photos of Nokia C6
In the box:
As far as touch-sensitive phones are concerned, Nokia yields to Samsung: the Finnish company entered the market too late, and its Nokia N97 flagship didn't live up to the expectations due to software problems. Nokia is trying to find a way to improve the situation, and one such way is to establish oneself in a market segment where the presence of other players is negligible. In Europe, the company is focusing on QWERTY-enabled devices. They have already shown a gold mine of those and are planning to launch another ten or so during the year. It feels like Nokia is doing its best to become number one in the segment. And it is very likely to succeed due to its earlier experience with the Nokia E71, Nokia E72, and Nokia E63. All three models are good, popular and add to the company image. On the other hand, there is evidence, both from other manufacturers and Nokia itself, that the segment demand is fairly limited and as such, an abundance of QWERTY solutions doesn't look like a very reasonable idea. One can try to sell a QWERTY keyboard as part of a flagship model – just like it was with the Nokia N97 and Nokia N97 Mini. However in the middle-end, it is not considered to be that much of an advantage and hence there are far fewer people willing to pay for it. Recall the very limited sales of the similar Nokia E75 and Nokia 5730 XpressMusic models, which ended up being variety products without significant market shares. Why did it happen? It happened because the QWERTY keyboard was redundant, because Nokia had alternative, cheaper solutions without one in its lineup.
In 2010, the company makes the very same mistake again by adding a QWERTY keyboard to an existing model. Will it be successful? I bet it won't. Unless the phone has been specifically tuned for it, the keyboard is useless.
Who is the target group of the Nokia C6? It is young people who communicate a lot and need a keyboard for that. Without thinking too hard, can you come up with any other Nokia device for young people? Off the top of my head, I can think of the Nokia X6, which is a music-oriented model with the same numerical index (specifically, the 16 GB version without the "Comes with music" service). Now, the question is whether the C6 in any way other than the keyboard is better than the senior model. I don't have an answer to that, as save for the extra widget mode, both models are identical. Yet the X6 uses somewhat better materials, which again, doesn't necessarily imply reasonable build quality as I could see for myself. The price difference is significant and favors the C6. So maybe that's what it all is about? The retail price of the C6 will be similar to that of the Nokia 5800, which could make the choice an easy one. Yet the popularity of the Nokia 5800 is on the decline and Nokia already has a few replacements for it, rendering the effort to prolong its product life useless. Unfortunately, Nokia's targeting the C6 at young people is very artificial and does not reflect the current market situation. It is more of what the producer wants than what is really happening. And knowing that allows me to say that it will be a niche model, not a popular one.
The results of the first month of the product sales go in line with the aforementioned statement. The model is not very popular and doesn't have a clear target group. Retailers are trying to suggest it as a cheap alternative to the Nokia N97, but that reference evokes no enthusiasm, to say the least, and hence doesn't help the Nokia C6 at all.
Just as before, the casing is made of plastic, the build quality is not bad. If squeezed a little, the phone shows some flex, but it's not that bad. The inside clasps are different from those used in the Nokia 5800 and make the casing more solid, preventing any movement of the panels; the very clasps are fairly reliable, too.
Unfortunately, the battery cover uses just one of those and hence plays a little bit. As a quick remedy, just stick a piece of duct tape or foam rubber to its back. I don't know what your take on this little DIY exercise is, but that is probably the only real concern about the build quality. Some units might also have the protective "glass" installed in the wrong position, which results in a small opening next to the Call key, but that is an obvious manufacturing defect.
The model is available in two color options – i.e. back and white, which is another telltale sign that the company is not expecting huge sales. Otherwise, there would be more color options available.
The phone measures 113.4x53x16.8 mm, and weighs 150 grams (for comparison, the Nokia 5230 measures 111x51.7x15.5 mm, and weighs 113 grams). The dimensions are casual, yet the weight is excessive, making the device feel like a piece of brick.
The right side features a volume rocker, screen and keyboard lock (they can be also be locked automatically) and a camera button. The lock slider is large and well balanced unlike the one in the Nokia 5800; it works just fine.
The memory card slot can be found on the left side.
On the top, there is a regular 3.5 audio jack as well as a microUSB port with a plastic cover. Unlike the Nokia5800, the phone is equipped with a single loudspeaker that is located at the far left corner at the top of the device. Due to the absence of the second loudspeaker, music quality at the maximum volume is significantly worse. The sound loses clarity, and although you won't hear crackling or anything else as disturbing, you are sure to hear some distortions in a quiet room (we tested the phone using some OVI store tunes).
The charger port (2 mm) can be found at the bottom of the device. It has an indicator ring that lights up while charging or blinks if the battery is flat.
There is also a proximity sensor in the phone that locks the screen when you are talking.
The screen is absolutely identical to the one used in the Nokia 5800. It is protected with a plastic cover, is slightly recessed, and you can work with it using both your fingers and a plectrum (needs to be purchased separately). The screen characteristics, image quality, diagonal and resolution are excellent. As a reminder, it is 3.2 inches wide, has a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a resolution of 640х360 pixels (39х69 mm). Up to 16 million colors are supported, and the image is bright, vivid and eye-catching.
The screen orientation changes automatically when you rotate the device. It takes no more than a second. As the display is recessed a bit, every now and again you can feel your finger catch the edges. Although some may not like it, personally I don't find it disturbing.
The screen is quite readable outdoors, no problems there. At the same time, it performs poorly in direct sunlight. There can be up to 14 text lines and 3 service rows on the screen simultaneously. It is ideal for watching video and browsing through pictures or lengthy lists.
In my opinion, the QWERTY keyboard requires some getting used to. As it has some gaps on the sides, the location of the keys is not the best. The keys themselves are larger than in the Nokia N97 or Nokia N97 Mini, have some travel and are quite nice. I have spent a week comparing the typing experience with the Nokia N97 and can conclude that it is quite similar, if not somewhat better.
The backlight is white and uniform. Some users have been complaining of keyboard flex in the upper right-hand corner, but I had no such problem. I also couldn't find it on any other unit I had access to.
The phone is equipped with a 1200 mAh (that is the maximum capacity you can get in a Nokia product in the segment) Li-Ion battery indexed BL-4J. According to the manufacturer, it can provide the user with up to 7 hours of talk time or up to 400 hours of standby. Music playback alone will deplete the battery in 30 hours.
On the average, the phone could last for about two days on a single charge in Moscow, allowing for 1.5 hours of talking, tens of camera shots, a few minutes of video recording and up to an hour of listening to the music or radio in total. It takes about an hour and a half to charge the battery fully.
Below you can find the maximum runtimes under various usage scenarios:
There is 128 MB RAM installed, with 45-55 MB available to programs upon booting up the device. The user is provided with approximately 190 MB of inbuilt memory for personal data storage. The phone comes bundled with a 2 GB memory card, which should be enough for nearly everyone. We had a 32 GB card installed, and the device recognized it just fine. The memory card slot is hot swappable.
Unfortunately, contemporary Symbian^3 devices have twice as much RAM. For Nokia C6 users this implies occasional crashes and general instability of the native browser. Installing Opera Mini is not a panacea either, as in the worst cases it can still lead to only some 5-6 MB remaining for running other programs. Unfortunately, the S60 browser update, which is due later this year, is designed for newer devices with more than 128 MB of RAM. Hence there is nothing to hope for in this respect.
USB. In USB settings you can choose one of 4 operation modes:
Data transfer speed reaches 5 Mb/s. When USB cable is connected the phone does not start recharging.
Bluetooth. Bluetooth 2.0 supports EDR. The following profiles are available:
Data transfer speed via Bluetooth reaches on average 100 Kb/s. We tested the transfer of stereo to a headset like Sony Ericsson DS970. Tracks handling, rewinding and skipping work without any problems, but the name of the track played at that time is not displayed on the screen.
Wi-Fi. Network search wizard is supported and 802.11 b/g works fine.
This handset is a typical S60 5th Edition model. Similarly to Nokia N97 we have widgets to locate on the screen in the standby mode. Here lies the main difference from, let's say, X6. As to the rest of software capabilities this phone has no particular strengths or weaknesses. You can read about the standard features of this platform in a separate article.
3rd version of maps is used and you can read about this app here.
This device has a typical Nokia player without the remote for the phone and comes equipped with entry level headphones. It is a considerable drawback of a music phone and we see that the company tried to save as much as they could. Those who plan to use their own headphones and I think this group constitutes a majority will not have problems here.
The following formats are supported: AAC, AAC+, eAAC, eAAC+, MP3, MP4, M4A, WMA, Mobile XMF, SP-MIDI, AMR (NB-AMR), MIDI Tones (poly 64), RealAudio 7,8,10, True tones (WB-AMR) and WAV. mp3 files support different bitrates, including VBR. During the synchronization with Windows Media Player 11 and higher you can use protected DRM files (Janus DRM).
The track title and the author are displayed on the screen alongside the controls. There is a fast forward option as well.
Equalizer. The sound quality is considerably affected by the change of equalizers. There are 6 preinstalled 8 band equalizers and each can be customized apart from the default sound option. These are the available equalizers: Bass, Booster, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Rock. In sound settings one can also choose the channels balance, Stereo Widening and Loudness.
Random playback and the repeat of a selected or all tracks are supported. In the standby mode the screen displays the info on the currently played track.
In the music menu tracks can be classified by all songs, play lists (automatic ones – recently added, never played and so on), performers, albums, genres and composers. The music library (in other words the files list) is updated automatically during the synchronization with PC via Nokia PC Suite. If you put in a memory card with tracks it does not happen. There is an interesting option to access general information on the music library.
Podcasting constitutes an integral part of the music player, while before it was a standalone application. You can get to podcasts from the player menu or download the app separately. In the second case you can access the library, Nokia podcasts catalogue, their search, synchronization set up, etc. The podcasts you sign up for can be downloaded automatically (in the main network or through a particular access point). There are filters for the podcast access and the application is generally useful and easy to use.
Music Store offers access to Nokia Music Store, an opportunity to purchase tracks, albums and download them on your device.
FM radio is an ordinary radio, which suggests setting the region during the first run. FM frequencies range is used accordingly. There is RDS support, automatic tuning and during the playback the frequency is displayed as animated wallpaper. I cannot say anything special about the radio.
The phone hosts a 5 MP CMOS module, which is a carbon copy of cameras used in other similarly priced models. The only difference is the absence of N97 style shutter, which scratched the lens. It is a controversial solution. I liked the shutter, because it activates the camera.
One-section LED flash works well at a distance between 1 and 2 meters (the manufacturer claims up to 3 meters).
The lens has the following characteristics:
The maximum resolution is Print 5M – large (2592х1944). The file size is around 700 KB - 2 MB. Other resolutions are also available to users:
The resolution does not influence the time required to save a photo. You need 3-4 seconds if you want to view pictures during shooting or 1-2 seconds if you are ready to take shot after shot (in this case the photos are stored in the buffer memory and the burst mode is also supported).
Different color modes are available. Taking into account that they can be applied to any photo in a graphics editor or in the phone after shooting I would advise not to set them by default. There are 4 effects here – Sepia, Black&White, Vivid and Negative.
Exposition adjustment. Adjustment size – 0.33 and this feature is handy while shooting objects with dominant light or black color.
White balance. In the automatic mode the camera provides a decent performance, but you can also choose from Sunny, Cloudy, Incandescent and Fluorescent.
Samples of photos:
Video recording offers fewer settings. We have a program picture stabilizer. White balance options – Automatic, Sun, Cloudy, Incandescent, and Fluorescent. You can use Sepia, Black&White and Negative effects. The shooting modes are automatic and night. The maximum resolution is 640х480 in mpeg4. You can set the sound off (the coding quality cannot be adjusted, so you have to stick to 30 frames per second). The total recording length is limited by the free space. In the maximum resolution we have a х4 digital zoom, while in QCIF it gets to х8 (in 3GP).
The model has no problems with the connection quality. It is loud enough in different conditions. In comparison with Nokia 5530/5800 it sounds not so loud and the loudspeaker offers a slightly muddier sound at the maximum volume. The vibro is good and it can be felt almost in all situations.
In June and July the model cost around €220, which is comparable with the current price of Nokia 5800. In many respects C6 is an analogue of 5800, but equipped with the keyboard. In fact it is more of X6 with the simplified screen (no glass and capacitive sensor), but with added widgets in the standby mode. I was anxious for widgets to be fixed in comparison with two previous models, but here we have the same problems (reloads by schedule, freezing up of widgets). It resembles a chronic widget disease for Nokia.
I have an open question: who needs the model? There are not so many QWERTY fans in the world, especially in Russia. That is why the model will be unnoticed. After good initial sales it will get stuck and fade away. The same thing happened to Nokia E75/5730 and both models have similar fates.
Do I like this phone? My answer is rather negative than positive. It is a strange mix. High quality plastic (like in Nokia N97) increased its weight and slightly worsened the ergonomics.
After several months of sales Nokia C6 did not cover itself in glory and surprisingly enjoys popularity among young people. The same group of customers purchased Nokia E75/5730 (at least their lifestyles and social status are very similar). Unfortunately, the artificial product range increase made the model inexplicable to buyers. For those looking for the ultimate QWERTY solution it is too cheap and lacks certain features, but customers who did buy it use the model as a construction set. Young adults like experiments after all.
I do not have particular complaints to the model as the back cover looseness can be fixed at home. The inadequate amount of RAM influencing the browser and widgets cannot be avoided though. In other applications I had no problems. The phone reloaded several times, but it was not too frequent. When I upgraded over the air to 11.0.029 firmware the headset stopped working and I could not solve it by switching off or reloading. Next morning the headset somehow started working again. Judging by forums others experienced the same issue. It must be connected with this upgrade.
In the fourth quarter we will see Nokia C6-01 where the back cover plastic was substituted by metal, a camera got 8 MP and stronger flash (two sections). It will cost €279 (C6-00 fetches €220). Courtesy of more RAM, new OS and faster operation speed this solution beats C6-00 in all respects but a QWERTY keyboard. Nokia C6-00 remains a thing in itself as a cheaper analogue of Nokia N97 Mini. Not many people choose this model and it is still a niche offering.
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Published 15 September 2010
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