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Monday, September 26, 2011

Nokia E6 review - Connecting two worlds

It was a while back that I received my first Nokia candybar Qwerty phone from the nice people at WOMWorld, the E5 and it quickly turned me into a fan of the form factor and of the phone's itself. Today however the game changes. Don't get me wrong, the E5 is still very close to the E6 at the top of my list, but there are things that the E6 can do that the E5 or any other Qwerty phone cannot.

Some of these things are the screen resolution 640x480 pixels, which is the highest available on this form factor, and most important, the camera. HD recording and 8MP photos are hard to come by in this class. I sometimes miss the soft keys of the E5 but I think this is just a matter of adjusting.

Another thing that makes this my favorite Qwerty is the fact that it combines business class with entertainment to a level I've never seen before. This phone has played back every video file that I threw at it, and, you can play Angry Birds on it too.

On top of the phone you can find the power key, the 3.5mm jack port, and (strangely) the SD card slot. On the left side we only have the USB port. On the right, we have the volume rockers, the voice command key, and the unlock knob. On the bottom we have the Nokia pin charger hole.

The phone has a VGA front facing camera for video calls, which is visible on the top of the front panel, next to an array of sensors.

The E6 screen in protected by a layer of compressed Gorilla glass.

The phone is equipped with a 680MHz ARM11 CPU spiced up with a 2D/3D GPU. On the RAM side, it has 256MB, fully capable of running Symbian 3 without breaking a sweat. The OS is hosted on a 1GB ROM, leaving enough room to install upcoming Symbian iterations.

The 8MP camera is based on EDoF technology, also known as Full Focus. The pictures are snapped very fast, and they are very well balanced. It's a bit hard to take a steady shot, because of the form factor. The camera records HD video of 1280x720px at 25 FPS.

Unfortunately the social client is not very well optimized for D-pad navigation, but there's always Gravity around if you're willing to pay for it, or Socially for free. You can also choose the official Facebook client, and use a different software for twitter, like Tweets60.

The hardware shortcut keys can be configured to launch 2 apps each(except for the home key) so you can easily have 6 of your favorite apps launched in a heartbeat.

The hardware keyboard is excellent. I rarely had a mistype. I have to say that if you are used with a non touch Qwerty bar, you're gonna have to get used to do things without softkeys. You'll have to use the touchscreen instead. I love touchscreens as well as Qwerty bars, but there is one thing that I absolutely detest about touchscreens: they're useless while driving.

However smart the voice recognition software is on touchphones, there is still some glitch that drives you up the wall. I have to stop all the time and take a call, or call my wife. But, just as the E5 before it, the E6 comes to the rescue. You can call someone without even having to look at the screen. You just use the unlock knob, start typing the name you want to call, and press the call key. It's that easy. This was one of my favorite thingies on the E5 homescreen, and I am glad the E6 inherited that one.

The voice command key is lower than the volume rockers, so you won't confuse the volume keys. Also it helps locating the voice command key easier.

A very neat thing that I noticed was that along with the keyboard, the volume rocker and voice command keys light up too, so they are very handy in the dark. Unfortunately the E6 does not charge from the USB port like it's Symbian 3 brethren, and that can be a hassle if you're on the go and can't find a Nokia pin charger(highly unlikely though).

However, the battery life is excellent. I went 2 full days on a charge with heavy use. I guess it's because of the smaller screen that doesn't eat up that much power as a 4 incher for example. I found the ambient light sensor a bit too sensitive, changing the backlight instantly even when not necessarily needed. There may be a setting for this sensitivity, but I could not find it.

The E6 has a split personality, in a good way. During work hours it works as a perfect business phone, and when at home it becomes a perfect family man phone with it's 8MP camera and HD video recording. I do not know any other phone that can do both this tasks in this price range. Most people that need a business phone carry two phones, one for business and another personal phone, but the E6 fills both roles successfully.

Symbian Anna seems to be a perfect fit for the E6. I did not experience any lags at all in the two weeks I had this phone with me. Nokia managed to modify the homescreen so that it shows three fullsize widgets alongside the system widgets for Profiles, Clock and Notifications.

There is not much to say about the software, pretty much everything is the same as the Nokia X7 I already reviewed, besides the games. The E6 has no games preinstalled whatsoever. Being an Eseries phone it is somewhat expected. That doesn't mean you can't install our own if you want to.

There are user interface changes because of the non-standard resolution of the E6, but every app looks like it's running in landscape mode(which is exactly what happens), so for those of you who are familiar with Symbian 3, you should feel right at home.

The web browser acts better than it did one the X7, so there is no need now for Opera Mini as a substitute browser.

The phone has 8GB of memory onboard, which should be enough for most people, but if you like to record HD videos a lot, you should consider a bigger SD card to expand your memory. The HD video tends to eat up the available memory pretty fast.

So, if you're looking for a business phone that is small enough to carry in your pocket, that can shoot a decent picture and record HD video, this is the phone for your. On top of that you can also play touch games on it, even if it will feel weird the first time.

This phone is a very well deserved upgrade for E5 and E72 lovers.

Why "Connecting two worlds"? Because the E6 combines touch and hardware QWERTY seamlessly into one package. Because it connects the business world with the entertainment world.

P.S. I have to mention, that again, just like I did with the E5, most of this review was written on the device itself.