IS the E6 the re-invention of Nokia for business QWERTY smartphones?
Nokia is desperately trying to re-invent itself as a cutting-edge smartphone company, but still is hoping to make a success of its ageing Symbian OS. It's rebooted it in the form of Symbian Anna and stuck it on the all-new E6, and thrown in a pin-sharp screen to boot. But is it the QWERTY/touchscreen combo to draw users back to the once-great brand?
Nokia E6: Design
Nokia obviously has learnt a thing or two about creating a classy mobile phone over the years, and that shows in the premium feel of the E6. The metal chassis is heavy, but the weighty feel adds to the impressive build quality, complete with protective covers for memory cards and USB ports. The screen is a 2.46-inch offering but fits nicely within the chassis, and the rubberised keys feel refreshingly un-plastic under the finger. A resplendent figure in glass and metal, the Nokia E6 definitely belies its price tag.
Nokia E6: Messaging
When it comes to messaging, Nokia has often led the way, and in terms of compatibility it's managed it again. Exchange, webmail and SMS are all thrown in, and Facebook and Twitter are included out of the box too. The keyboard is rubberised and feels nice under the finger; however, you'll notice the Nokia E6 is thinner than E-phones of old and the spacing of the keys is a little narrow in our opinion. This leads to a few mistakes when typing at speed which is frustrating when phones at half the price are offering quality keyboards in the shape of the HTC ChaCha. Social networking deserves a mention here, simply because it's so woeful on the E6. Facebook and Twitter may be supported, but you have to navigate a number of menus to actually interact with them - it's areas like this that iOS and Android are light years ahead.
Nokia E6: Interface
The interface on Nokia phones has been in dire need of an overhaul for over half a decade now, and while the Finns have been making an effort on that front, the latest iteration on show here with the E6 (named Symbian Anna) still leaves a lot to be desired. What's odd is that the phone itself isn't slow generally, but the operating system is for some inexplicable reason. Jumping between some menus and applications is as quick as a flash, but more often than not we were stuck staring at a spinning white circle as a picture gallery or browser took its time to come onto the screen. The E-Series, which is being discontinued after the E6, has the helpful Home, Calendar, Email and Contacts keys around the D-pad, but pressing these leads to a 2-3 second wait - certainly a lot more frustrating than the dual-core brigade of smartphones we're seeing these days.
Nokia E6: Internet and media
The internet browser on Symbian Anna operating system has been upgraded to be a little less clunky than Nokia phones of old, and while we can see the difference, it's still a long way from perfect. Thankfully the pin-sharp screen comes to the rescue. Packing a VGA screen in a 2.46-inch space obviously means loads of pixels per inch, and even zoomed out text is easily legible. However, navigation could definitely do with something of a power boost, as we were left waiting for a number of web pages to load, even the lighter ones.
Flash is pseudo-supported thanks to Flash Lite, but a number of videos simply wouldn't play. Thanks to that screen, watching video on the E6 is a very pleasurable experience - well, if you've got good eyesight that is. The decent pixel count is somewhat negated by the smaller screen size, but it's perfect for the likes of YouTube and short form content, or checking out the HD footage you snaffle with the 8MP camera. Music playback is also pretty darn classy, and the homescreen widget is easy to use and jump back to from anywhere in the phone - so thumbs up to Nokia for realising that even business users like to watch cats playing the piano and listen to the odd tune now and again.
Nokia E6 Verdict
The Nokia E6 is a decent Symbian phone that doesn't break the bank at £300-odd SIM free - it's just that the Symbian OS still needs a lot of work to make it industry leading (and it doesn't look like Nokia is going to put the effort in to get it there). The 'thinking' icon that kept popping up whenever we opened apps was maddening, and while the internet browser looks beautiful, it's still a few steps behind its peers. The premium design will attract a few users, and Nokia stalwarts will consider this a decent step forward - but it's no BlackBerry beater and despite the features and hardware wins, it's still not enough from Nokia.
Availability: Out now
Price: £25-£30 per month on contract
Nokia E6 Specs:
- OS: Symbian Anna
- Processor: 680MHz ARM 11
- Storage: 8GB internal/8GB microSD card
- Screen: 2.46inch VGA
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, HSDPA 7.2Mbps
- Camera: 8-megapixel dual LED flash
- Video: 720p 25fps
- Talk time: 450mins
- Dimensions: 115.5x59x10.5mm/133g