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Nokia E6 Review

Jonathan Morris
June 22, 2011

A redesigned OS, a high-definition screen and the introduction of touch. Does this make the Nokia E6 an exciting new offering for enterprise?

Nokia has a heritage of QWERTY enabled devices and it’s latest offering is the E6, which brings with it a heap of changes and improvements, even if you may not initially appreciate them by merely looking at the handset itself.

The design follows on from the E72, with the phone available in a choice of three finishes – all metal.

Nokia has always valued the importance of quality in the E-series range, and the E6 is no exception. It feels solid and gives confidence that it will remain reliable. History also proves this to be the case.

However, given the huge advances of BlackBerry OS and Android now offering handsets in a similar form factor, Nokia must keep ahead. In order to do this, the company has taken the very bold decision to upgrade the screen by not just a few pixels, but a jump up from QVGA to full VGA. This means four times the amount of pixels on a screen measuring just under 2.5-inches, to give seriously high definition.In fact, it has an identical pixel-per-inch (PPI) figure to the iPhone 4, although the iPhone has a larger physical screen and more pixels.

Touch accord

Another new feature is the touchscreen. It’s going to take a bit of getting used to for existing E-series owners, especially as the small display needs a fair degree of accuracy to select the right options in menus. Thankfully you won’t be needing to use an onscreen keyboard thanks to the full QWERTY offering below.

Underneath the display sit four shortcut keys and a D-Pad, with more room on account of the removal of the soft keys that now sit at the bottom of the touchscreen instead. However, like earlier models, the hardware keys aren’t individually defined and this can make it tricky to give any of them a confident press. They are well spaced though, so you shouldn’t find many situations where you accidentally hang up a call when you wanted to open the messaging app or phonebook.

There’s micro-USB connector on the left side and volume keys with a record button to activate the voice recorder on the right side. Below the volume keys is a hardware lock key, in the form of a slider that you flick down to lock and unlock. Alternatively, you can tap the power button at the top and press on the virtual unlock icon on the display. For security, you can also use a code to unlock the phone.

At the top of the phone is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSDHC card slot, with a cover on the card slot to protect it from the elements. This means you can hot swap cards without powering down. The E6 has 8GB of internal storage space that should be ample if you’re not also using the phone for watching movies and listening to music. Still, being able to add another 32GB is always a bonus.

The original Series 60 3rd Edition user interface has made way for the latest Symbian OS, named ‘Anna’, which takes many of the features from the likes of the N8, C7 and E7. For example, you now have multiple home screen panels to switch between, as well as all-new icons. You can easily edit the position of widgets and shortcuts by simply holding down your finger on the screen and adding and removing elements in a grid pattern.

Speeding fine

The phone is seriously fast too, thanks to a 600MHz ARM 11 processor and both 2D and 3D graphics acceleration. These are both essential given four times the number of pixels are being displayed. Connectivity is well covered with a penta-band (5-band) 3G and quad-band 2G transceiver, Wi-Fi with 802.11b/g and n, as well as HSPA support for up to 10.2Mbps down and 2Mbps up and Bluetooth V3. USB On-the-Go also allows you to connect other USB devices, such as flash drives, to the device to further boost the storage.

One thing you don’t get is HDMI output, despite the fact the phone can happily play HD content and capture HD video (720p and 25 frames per second) from the 8-megapixel camera.

The camera itself is accompanied by bright dual-LEDs and uses an EDoF sensor (Extended Depth of Field) which does away with the need for autofocus. This means no time waiting for the camera to focus, allowing you to take pictures without delay. In fact, the biggest delay is opening the camera in the first place as there’s no camera button. You can of course create a shortcut on any one of the homescreens.

At the front of the phone is a VGA-resolution camera with support for video calling, or taking self shots. It can also record video via the front-facing camera too, but obviously not in HD quality.

With Nokia having ditched the Ovi name, you now have access to a range of apps that are now back to their more sensible names, such as Nokia store and Nokia Maps. The latter offers free navigation, with maps downloadable to work offline and save you potentially hefty data charges. The latest version also offers details on items of interest in and around your locality, for example film times, events and restaurants. The phone also views and edits Microsoft Office documents natively.

Message therapy

There’s a wealth of options for email, with Nokia’s association with Microsoft (which began long before the recent tie-up) ensuring access to a comprehensive range of services, with a strong emphasis on security. The phone works with any POP or IMAP email accounts, with settings for Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Exchange. Social networking is also covered with support for Facebook and Twitter.

You can safely protect all data on the phone and the memory card, plus lock the device remotely (or wipe it) if it falls into the wrong hands.

Another benefit of adding the touchscreen is that this becomes the first E-series model in this form factor to run apps previously offered only to users of touchscreen models. This increases the choice of apps, although with the planned transition to Windows Phone OS you will have to accept the choice of apps will never be as great as other platforms.

However, the move to Windows Phone OS is irrelevant on a phone that is a fully functioning mobile office, with consumer-friendly features built-in too. And, while losing the use of your mobile would be frustrating for anyone, in business it could be far more serious than being unable to Tweet or update your status.

In addition to the performance of the phone, its wonderful screen and the tactile keyboard, comes a battery that will keep the phone up and running for a good couple of days at a time. Together with the solid and durable build quality, the Nokia E6 proves that there’s definitely still life in the Symbian platform yet.

Verdict

After a number of gradual updates to each of Nokia’s full-keyboard smartphones, the E6 has leaped ahead with its all-new high-definition screen that also adds touch for the first time. It has a new version of the Symbian OS (arguably the best version yet) and a decent quality camera with HD. The battery life is strong, the phone is well constructed in a durable metallic housing and security is as good as any other E-series device before it. In essence the E6 is a fantastic all-rounder for both business and consumer use.

Ratings (out of 5)

Performance: 5
Features: 4
Usability: 4
OVERALL: 4


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