Yesterday’s high-end is the new midrange we like to say. The Nokia C6 has almost exactly the same features as the Nokia N97 mini but hangs a big Sale sign. Time to shop for high-end features off high street.
The C-series are trying to distill the Nokia knowledge and experience into a lineup of simple and affordable phones. There’s a bit of everything there: from cheap entry-level handsets to smartphones that border on the Eseries and Nseries.
And Nokia is in no mood to relax it seems. The C-series went from one to six in almost no time, and a C7 may as well be on the way. Now, technically there is no number four –but that’s one number Nokia isn’t really fond of. Anyway, if there ever was to be a C4 we just know it would’ve been dynamite.
Being a C-series phone, you can expect the C6 to be a decent all-rounder. And it is. There’re no mind-blowing features but there’s nothing major missing either. And what isn’t there (e.g. document editing) can be easily fixed with the right app.
- 3.2″ 16M-color resistive touchscreen of 640 x 360 pixel resolution
- Symbian OS 9.4 with S60 5th edition UI
- Slide-out four-row full QWERTY keyboard
- ARM 11 434MHz CPU
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
- Tri-band 3G with 3.6Mbps HSDPA support
- 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash and VGA@30fps video recording
- Wi-Fi and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
- GPS with A-GPS and free lifetime voice-guided navigation license
- microSD card (16 GB supported, 2GB included)
- Built-in accelerometer for display auto-rotation, turn-to-mute
- 3.5 mm audio jack
- Smart dialing
- Stereo FM Radio with RDS
- microUSB port
- Web browser has full Flash support
- Good audio quality
- Office document viewer
- Display performs poorly under direct sunlight
- The S60 touch UI is clunky
- Doesn’t charge off USB
- Average loudspeaker performance
- No DivX or XviD video support out-of-the-box
- No office document editing (without a paid upgrade)
- No camera lens protection
These days, communication over text-based channels is bigger than ever – SMS, email, Twitter, Facebook, IM to name but a few. And they have a certain advantage over voice calling. They’re cheap, or absolutely free, even when you’re reaching someone on another continent.
The Nokia C6 runs S60 5th edition and our test unit comes with the 10.0.024 firmware release. You must have seen plenty of Symbian in touchscreen action and nothing here should come as a big surprise.
Here is our unboxing and user interface video. If you want to skip the retail package exploration, the UI demo starts at 00:50.
We are glad to note that kinetic scrolling keeps on getting better. It is available almost throughout the user interface – from file and web browsers through gallery to contacts and even the main menu. Finger scrolling has been improved as well.
Until now widgets were limited to Nseries, but the C6 is kind enough to bring them on board. A widget-enabled homescreen mimics the good old Active Standby but instead of slots you now get nicely thumbable blocks. However, if you were hoping for thumb-scrollable multiple homescreen panes, you are again out of luck, even though the competition has had these for a long time.
S60 5th is in essence a direct translation of D-pad and soft-key action into touch. Although it has its benefits, the result is hardly the most fluent and intuitive touchscreen interface there is. Scrolling and accessing items across the interface is nothing like other touch platforms we’ve tried. On the other hand, soft-keys work just fine and enhance usability compared to other touch phones.
Homescreen and main menu
The main menu structure leaves no doubt you’re on Symbian turf. Icons are set in a 3 x 4 grid or a list that you can freely reorder. Screen orientation can be set to change automatically thanks to the accelerometer.
The homescreen layout of the C6 is typical Symbian and looks exactly the same as it did on the Nokia N97 mini.
A single press on the clock starts the clock application (with an option for setting up an alarm) while tapping on the date launches the calendar application.
Another tap, this time on the Profile button, leads you to the profile options where you can edit the currently active profile or change it (which does make using the the Power key for that purpose redundant).
A decent phonebook
The Nokia C6 phonebook has virtually unlimited capacity and its functionality is certainly among the best out there. The Nokia C6 contacts list also has kinetic scrolling enabled and it’s among the best examples to find on a Nokia touch phone.
Contacts can be freely ordered by first or last name and you can also set whether the contacts from the SIM card, the phone memory and the service numbers will get displayed.
Telephony: smart dial on QWERTY
Voice quality is good on both ends of calls, the earpiece sound is crisp and there were no reception problems whatsoever.
Smart dialing is enabled and the implementation is quite good. Ass soon as you hit a few keys on the keyboard, all the matches are displayed. You get the contact’s name and photo on screen – pressing and holding will bring up virtual buttons to start a voice or video call, or compose a text message.
Voice dialing is also enabled on the Nokia C6. The voice dial mode is activated once you press and hold the Call key. It is fully speaker-independent and doesn’t require pre-recording the names of your contacts. Bear in mind though, that if you have multiple numbers assigned to a contact, it will dial the default one.
Thanks to the built-in accelerometer, you can silence an incoming call (or snooze an alarm) by simply flipping the handset over. Also when in calls, the proximity sensor makes sure the screen turns automatically off when you pick the phone up to your ear.
Image gallery is still quite slow
The gallery of Nokia C6 is nicely touch optimized and there are sweep gestures enabled for flipping through photos displayed fullscreen.
You can sort images by date, title or size and you can also copy, move and delete them. Sending them via Bluetooth, email, MMS or sharing them online is also available straight from here.
Good ol’ music player
The Nokia C6 music player is pretty functional but its design could use a little freshening up – it hasn’t changed since we first saw it in the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. With user friendliness such a key aspect of full touch phones, it would be nice from Nokia to add some fun to the mix.
Your music library is automatically sorted by artist, album, genre and or composer and searching tracks by gradual typing is available. You can also create your own playlists in no time.
Good audio quaity
Nokia C6 isn’t the loudest handset around but provides nicely clean audio output. The readings it achieved in our test are very satisfying and there is very little to moan about really.
The frequency response indicates slightly cut-off extremene high frequencies (nothing you can actually hear anyway) and the intermodulation distortion is slightly high but that’s it. The noise levels, dynamic range and stereo crosstalk readings are just great, comparable to the best in class. Here go the results so you can compare it to some of the other handsets we have tested.
DivX/XviD support is still a no-go for the video player
The ample screen generally makes watching a video on the Nokia C6 a pleasure. However the lack of DivX and XviD codecs makes actually playing one somewhat of a harder task.
Of course, you can use the Nokia PC suite built-in application that automatically converts all kinds of video files to the format and resolution your phone supports. The automatic converter though seems to compress the videos too much, even at the highest quality setting, and they look over pixelated’ but so far it’s the easiest way of getting compatible video to your handset.
FM radio with RDS
The FM radio on Nokia C6 has a neat and simple interface and can automatically scan and save the available stations in your area. It also has RDS support and automatic scanning for an alternative frequency. This means that if you’re on the go, the C6 should take care of staying tuned to your selected radio station.
Decent 5 megapixel camera
Nokia C6 has a 5 MP camera for a maximum image resolution of 2592×1944 pixels. The camera UI is similar to what you get in the 5800 XpressMusic, the N97 or the N97 mini.
All the settings are squeezed in a combined menu, except for the flash, which has its own dedicated shortcut. We understand that a tabular layout isn’t the easiest of things to do on this kind of device but some of the more important features could have had their own shortcuts too.
The picture quality is pretty decent by our books. First of all, resolved detail is more than adequate. Noise reduction finds a good balance between keeping noise levels low and preserving fine detail. There is no purple fringing whatsoever and the white balance and auto ISO settings are well tweaked. Photos have good contrast and accurate colors.
The camcorder interface doesn’t differ from the still camera much. The camera can capture video in either VGA or the screen resolution (640 x 352 px) resolution, 30 fps in either case.
The C6 video quality is OK. Colors turn out just fine, but the compression seems too aggressive in most of the clips and produces noticeable artifacts. Anyway, VGA@30fps seems to be the best that Nokia can offer until N8 hits the market.
Here is a VGA video sample from the Nokia C6.
Smartphones are usually well-heeled in terms of connectivity and the Nokia C6 is no exception: all contemporary means of data transfer are supported.
User have GPRS, EDGE and 3G with HSDPA (3.6Mbps) at their disposal. The GSM/EDGE network support of course comes in quad-band flavor and the 3G is tri-band – 900/1900/2100.
Both USB and Bluetooth are version 2.0 and the latter naturally also sports A2DP. Wi-Fi with UPnP support is also at hand. There is a dedicated homescreen widget for the WLAN wizard.
A 3.5mm audio jack is also onboard and you’ll have no problems switching to your favorite headphones.
Unfortunately, Nokia C6 doesn’t charge off a USB connection. It’s a common issue among the midrange Nokia smartphones and C6 joins the unfortunate list.
Finally, the storage. Nokia C6 has 240MB internal storage, expandable via a microSD slot. A 2GB card is included in the retail box but you’re likely to need more. The C6 cannot match the built-in storage capacity of the N97 duo.
Web browser goes in right direction
The Nokia C6 browser has very good page rendering and boasts some nice features such as different font sizes (5 options), auto fill-in of web forms and a password manager.
The S60 5th edition organizer is pretty well stocked although its applications are already in need of refreshment – especially on a touchscreen. Some of the apps are starting to look boring and dated, having had the same interface for over 3 years now.
The developers are still hesitant to put the touch input of Nokia C6 to some good usage and maybe some cool new features. They have only gone as far as to touch-optimize the S60 3rd edition apps.
The calendar has four different view modes – monthly, weekly, daily and a to-do list, which allows you to check all your To-Do entries regardless of their date. There are four types of events available for setting up – Meeting, Memo, Anniversary and To-do. Each event has unique fields of its own, and some of them allow an alarm to be activated at a preset time to act as a reminder.
GPS, Ovi Maps and free voice navigation
The Nokia C6 comes with a built-in GPS receiver that managed to get satellite lock in about a minute upon cold start (A-GPS turned off at the time) and keeping the lock was not an issue for the C6 even in dense urban environments.
The phone comes with Ovi Maps 3.3 Touch preinstalled (the rebranded Nokia Maps). Since January 2010 all Nokia GPS-enabled Symbian handsets have free lifetime voice-guided navigation.
Ovi Maps navigation is currently available in 74 countries and 46 languages, with even traffic information for more than 10 of those. In addition, Nokia have also greatly upgraded the Ovi Maps application itself, so it now packs a cooler looking interface, the Lonely planet city guide and the Michelin restaurant guide with lots and lots of points of interest. There’s also an events guide that lists all events happening within a 3km range of your position and provides you with details on each one.
The touch-enabled Ovi Maps application itself is doing pretty well in terms of features too. It has four different view modes including satellite and hybrid maps. Those however do need an internet connection. The more regular 2D and 3D view modes are also at hand.
Browsing the Ovi Store, you can choose between several sections – Applications, Games, Audio and Video content, Personalization, Recommended and of course, My Stuff, which shows you the apps you’ve already installed.
The structure of the Ovi Store client is simple. It’s a list with the name and logo of each app (or podcast, or whatever), the category it’s in (Entertainment, Utilities, etc), price and a star rating out of three.
The Nokia C6 comes with just a few preinstalled applications.
World Traveler is a handful open platform application developed by Psiloc. It offers four services – weather, world clock, currencies, and world map. More about this piece of software to be found here.