Nokia's latest E6 offers the best of both worlds for touchscreen users and Qwerty keyboard lovers.
By CHONG JINN XIUNG
The E6 is the latest in Nokia's long running line of E-series business phones. It is an interesting device that combines elements of both a Qwerty keyboard-centric mobile phone and a touchscreen device.
On the outside, the Nokia E6 closely follows the classic E series design though it has been updated with rounded curves and there are thick silver accents running around the phone.
It's a very compact phone that measures just 10.5mm thick and it has a remarkably sturdy build quality.
Around the sides, the E6 cleverly hides its microUSB port and microSD card slot with protective covers that helps keep dust out.
The lock slider on the side is great for quickly locking the phone and easier to reach than the power button that is located on the top.
A little bit of both
The 2.46in screen doesn't look like much but it is actually a capacitive touchscreen with a 600 x 480-pixel resolution.
The mixed Qwerty and touchscreen interface takes some getting used to but it provides the best of both worlds when it comes to navigation with the touchscreen and easier text input with its physical buttons.
You can customise the layout of the icons by 'long pressing' on them but the space provided is so limited that you can't change much.
One notable widget that played well to the E6's messaging-centric nature was
the pre-installed Social widget that pulls feeds from Facebook, Twitter and your instant messages.
Improved with a few touches
While Nokia is switching to the Windows Phone platform, that hasn't stopped it from launching an updated version of its Symbian 3 operating system. The E6 is the first Nokia device to run on the updated Symbian Anna operating system.
To be honest, Symbian Anna doesn't bring many improvements to the table save for the improved web browser and Nokia Maps.
Nokia Maps is actually a full-feature navigation application that's pretty handy for finding your way around an unfamiliar part of town.
It comes complete with global maps, drive and walk voice navigation - not bad for something that's completely free.
We found it intuitive and easy-to-use when looking for new destinations. Even satellite locks were relatively quick.
In terms of actual navigation, we did find that it tried to lead us on a longer way around to a destination, but re-routing was very quick so we didn't get lost and still made it to our destination.
However, due to the small size of the screen on the E6, we found it difficult to view the map while driving. Web surfing also feels smoother and faster on the E6. The experience can be a bit limited considering the small size of the screen but it didn't prove to be a problem when we tried browsing through our regular pages.
However, the E6 doesn't quite feel as polished in some areas - common functions like messages are a little slow to load compared to speedy smartphones and some applications took a long time to load on a few occasions. But this is probably to be expected from a phone in this category.
One notable application that we liked that came with the phone was JoikuSpot, which is an application that allows you to turn the phone into a WiFi hotspot using your 3G connection.
In terms of battery performance, the E6 is pretty energy efficient and managed to last a day and half on a single charge. This is even after we used the phone to browse the Web, check e-mails and make phone calls throughout the day.
The E6's 8-megapixel camera gives it the edge over many other Qwerty keyboard phones. Though it is a fixed-focus camera, the E6 still managed to produce pictures that were nicely saturated especially when taken in well-lit conditions.
In addition, it has features like face recognition and a dual-LED flash to help illuminate subjects in the dark.
On the downside, the lack of autofocus makes taking close-up shots difficult and it doesn't shoot well in dark environments.
The E6 is, at the very least, up to date with modern smartphones in terms of HD video capture - it can record videos at 720p resolution at 25 frames per second.
The results were quite decent and still looked good when viewed on a bigger screen. That's not to say that it will perform as well as a dedicated video-recording device but it's a handy feature to have. The LED flash also serves as a light that can be turned on to illuminate subjects when it's dark.
For RM1,155 there's a lot of value to be found in the small but feature-packed Nokia E6. It is a well-built phone that offers a decent camera and great battery life. Nokia Maps also extends the phone's usefulness beyond calls and text messaging.
Though it may seem weird, the phone's hybrid physical button and touch interface works well for surfing the Web and general phone usage.
The only major downside to the phone is its small 2.4in screen that is ill-fitting for a touchscreen device.
Though the E6 is a very capable business phone, it is hard to ignore the fact that much of Nokia's current efforts are clearly focused on its upcoming Windows Phone models, which are due later this year. Only time will tell if we will ever see a follow-up to the E6.
Pros: Improved web browser; good battery life; able to record 720p HD video, Nokia Maps provides GPS navigation.
Cons: Screen is too small; Symbian Anna does not offer many new features; fixed-focus camera.
Symbian Anna smartphone
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 850/900/1700/1900/2100
CPU: ARM 11 680MHz
OPERATING SYSTEM: Symbian Anna
DISPLAY: 2.46in TFT LCD capacitive touchscreen (640 x 480-pixels)
CAMERA: 8-megapixels, fixed-focus, dual-LED flash, 720p HD video recording (25 fps, H.264)
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi (802.11b/g/n), USB 2.0
MEMORY: 256MB RAM; 1GB ROM; 8GB internal storage
EXPANSION SLOT: microSD (up to 32GB)
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 681 hours/ 14 hours
OTHER FEATURES: A-GPS with Nokia Maps navigation; Qwerty keyboard
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 115.5 x 59 x 10.5mm
RATING: 3.5/5 stars
Review unit courtesy of Nokia Malaysia, 1-300-88-1600