Nokia E6 Review
- Touch plus physical QWERTY combo is a priceless combo
- Sleek form factor with classy finish & solid build
- Symbian is zippier after the Anna update
- QWERTY is very comfortable to use
- Higher resolution makes for a crisp display
- Very good camera
- Excellent battery life
- Symbian Anna may be zippier, but still feels a little sluggish
- 2.46-inch display as a touchscreen isn't always a comfortable proposition
- UI tends to feel a bit cramped with too many elements
- Widgets sizes cannot be changed
- Archaic method of small/normal/large to manage text font size
For a price of around Rs. 17k, the E6 is a smartphone with the touchscreen plus physical QWERTY keypad, latest Symbian Anna OS, a sleek (albeit slightly heavy) form factor and an excellent battery life. While it is often said that the E-series competes directly with Blackberry smartphones, it is interesting to note that the E6 falls slam bang between two Blackberry smartphones (the Curve 3G @ Rs. 14k and the Bold 9700 @ Rs. 19k), and isn't really competing with either of them.
It is a topic of intense debate whether Nokia’s newer smartphones have ever lived up to the brilliance of the erstwhile N-Series (N95 8GB, N82, N72 etc.) and the E-Series smartphones. A lot of attempts were made, some good, but some were really bad. However, we are really impressed by what the E6 offers. Nokia, it seems, has gotten the combination right this time.
Look and Feel
The E6 has a very classy look to it. Is it because of the extremely slim form factor? Or is it because of the chrome around the edges of the front panel? We think it is a combination of both, along with the fact that E6 has matter of fact looks. Straightaway, you know this is a no-nonsense business phone with a physical QWERTY keypad and a small-ish display. However, what you may not realize straightaway is that the 2.46-inch display is a high-resolution capacitive touchscreen as well.
The right side has the volume rocker, and the display lock/unlock slider key. Nokia could have easily done away with this slider key, and let the power key do the same job, like we have seen on most Android phones and the iPhone. Surprisingly, the micro USB port is hidden away behind a plastic cover that is pretty tacky to open. The rear panel has the 8MP camera and the dual LED flash. The battery cover is metal, and the opening mechanism is pretty slick. The SIM card slot is pretty nicely hidden away somewhere beside the battery, but the slide out mechanism is a very neat method.
Back to the front panel, and below the display is the four directional navigation key and the call connect/disconnect buttons are on either side. The home button is to the left of the navigation key, and is flanked by quick access keys for calendar, messaging and contacts. Three of these can be modified to open other apps. The physical keypad is the full-fledged QWERTY one, with the numbers integrated on alphabet keys right in the middle of the layout. If you are a Blackberry user, this is something you will need to get used to, since BB smartphone QWERTYs have the numbers towards the left side of the layout. The bezel below the QWERTY pad is pretty wide, not that it makes any difference in the comfort level of using the E6, or with how you hold the phone.
The form factor of the phone is pretty conventional as far as QWERTY keypad based smartphones are concerned. The positives about the E6 are that the build quality is great, and the form factor is pretty slim. It fits well in the hand, and can be used with the same hand that is holding the phone. The E6 feels slightly heavy, but then again, at 133 grams, it isn’t a brick. However, the Blackberry Bold 9700 steals a march on this one, and it weighs less at 122 grams. We have also been spoilt by thin and feather light (but more expensive) Android smartphones!
The most important upgrade Nokia could have given the E6 is a better OS than the version of Symbian^3 that arrived with the likes of the N8 and the E7. The Anna update does make a lot of difference. In terms of UI, the icon edges are noticeably rounded, unlike the ones in the first version of Symbian 3. But, the biggest update seems to be with the performance. Before the Anna update, Symbian 3 felt painfully sluggish, partly because of underpowered processors, and mostly because the OS itself wasn’t conducive to good performance. Symbian Anna also brought in an updated browser, mail client, etc.
Speaking of processors, this business-oriented smartphone is powered by a 680MHz ARM 11 processor, and paired with 256MB of RAM. While the performance isn’t too bad, the power deficit is certainly there. Symbian OS, despite the Anna update, isn’t as slick as the new Blackberry 6 OS. The Blackberry Bold 9700, with the OS 6 update, feels faster on an even less powerful processor (624MHz) with the same amount of RAM. Nokia needs to do something to make Symbian lumber around less, and needs to do that fast. And move beyond the 680MHz processors, and bring on the speed! Perhaps Belle phones will change all that.
There are not many changes in the interface, when compared to Symbian^3. The UI style, multiple screen navigation, and menu layouts are essentially the same. Everything feels smaller and more cramped on the smaller display, though. The biggest give-away about the fact that this phone carries the latest Symbian version remain the rounded edges on icons. The home screen layout is pretty similar across all the screens. There can be 2 to 3 small widgets to the left, placed vertically. The rest of the space can be taken up by a maximum of 3 rectangular widgets.
The E6 has 8GB built-in storage, with a microSD slot for up to 32GB more.
Read more about the Nokia E6's performance, and our verdict, on the next page...
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