The Nokia C6-01 comes in as a reasonably priced and well-built smartphone with great all-round connectivity and a unique feature to set it apart from rivals. The ClearBlack display can actually give Nokia quite an edge if it lives up to the expectations.
The Nokia C6-01 has got a tall task on its hands. It comes to replace an iconic phone like the 5800 XpressMusic. The Nokia 5800 (despite all its imperfections) introduced Nokia to the touchscreen game with a winning move but now it’s time for it to bow out of the way with dignity.
One bestseller out – the next one in. The next generation is here and we’re happy to greet the Nokia C6-01. Let’s start with a quick check-up.
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
- Quad/Penta-band 3G with 10.2 Mbps HSDPA and 2 Mbps HSUPA support
- 3.2″ 16M-color ClearBlack AMOLED capacitive touchscreen of 640 x 360 pixel resolution
- 8 megapixel fixed-focus camera with dual-LED flash and 720p video @ 25fps recording; geotagging, face detection
- Symbian^3 OS
- 680 MHz ARM 11 CPU and 256 MB RAM
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- TV-out functionality (SD)
- GPS receiver with A-GPS support and free lifetime voice-guided navigation
- Digital compass
- 340MB on-board storage, microSD expandable
- DivX and XviD video support
- Built-in accelerometer and proximity sensor
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
- Stereo FM Radio with RDS
- microUSB port with USB On-the-go support
- Flash and Java support for the web browser
- Stereo Bluetooth 3.0
- Excellent audio quality
- Smart dialing and voice commands
- Symbian^3 is still behind Android and iOS usability (mostly in text input and web browsing)
- The camera is a fixed-focus unit, tends to oversharpen images by default
- No office document editing (without a paid upgrade)
- Relatively limited 3rd party software availability
The Nokia C6-01 seems better equipped indeed than most of its direct competitors. HVGA (320 x 480 pixels) seems to be the standard in this price range and nHD (360 x 640 pixels) trumps that and even keeps some deeper blacks in reserve. Not to mention stuff like HD video recording, USB On-the-go, DivX and XviD or Flash support, which are still rare enough to make a great selling point.
Symbian^3 doesn’t bring many surprises
The Nokia C6-01 is the third Symbian^3-powered device we get to take a closer look at. We’ve been on and on about Nokia needing to catch up with Android and iOS. The new version of Symbian is certainly a step in the right direction.
The Finnish software engineers finally realized that it’s a streamlined interface that people want and got rid of the whole tap-to-select-another-tap-to-confirm nonsense that made Symbian^1 so inconsistent.
Nokia C6-01 brings nothing new on the Symbian^3 scene and its UI features and looks are the same as Nokia N8 and C7. But we should do the tour again, because not everyone is interested in all the devices.
So, Symbian^3 is a definite improvement for Nokia but it’s obvious they couldn’t have gone for a complete overhaul like Microsoft. That would’ve meant losing a lot of functionality and is probably the reason why the Finns went the evolutionary, rather than the revolutionary way.
Here’s a demo video of Symbian ^3 running on the Nokia C6-01.
Symbian^3 brings both visual and functionality changes. The homescreen is the most evident of those, its size now expanded to three panes worth of space. You are free to fill it up with widgets and reshuffle them as you see fit. If three panes are too much for you, you can delete the ones you don’t need.
It’s a good phonebook
The Nokia C6-01 comes with a fully functional phonebook, which can easily be synced with your exchange account. Symbian has been offering users virtually unlimited phonebook capacity and excellent contact management for quite some time. The Symbian^3 phonebook has gone in the right direction with the social network integration too.
Telephony is fine too
Expectedly we didn’t experience any call-related issues with the Nokia C6-01. Reception is solid, voice quality good on both ends of a call. The earpiece is loud enough and there were no interferences whatsoever.
Voice dialing is available on the C6-01 and gets activated by pressing and holding the call key on the home screen. It is fully speaker-independent and as far as we can tell performs greatly, recognizing all the names we threw at it.
The messaging department still waits for a better keyboard
The Nokia C6-01 can easily cater for all your messaging needs, but chances are you will find the virtual keyboard rather annoying. It’s not so much the QWERTY keyboard itself, which is spacious and comfortable but the fact that it opens in a separate screen with a dedicated text box. There’s no multi-touch support here either so two-handed typing is likely to produce more thumbs than usual.
File management and USB on-the-go
Unlike some competing platforms, Symbian handsets have always enjoyed a proper file manager. The File manager on board the C6-01 is a capable app that can basically do anything you can think of with your files – moving, copying renaming, sorting or sending – you name it. You can also password-protect your memory card if you see fit.
You can also search for a specific file or directory. All you need to remember is a part of the desired name and where it was located (phone memory or memory card), the Nokia C6-01 will find it in no time.
The gallery is not much of a looker
Symbian^3 might have vastly improved the UI but the gallery was definitely not on the upgrade list. The Nokia C6-01 comes with virtually the same image browsing software as its predecessors and, honestly, it’s barely passable by modern standards.
Sure, sweep gestures have been available for a while now and you are also getting pinch-zooming so it’s not all bad but some eye-candy would have been more than welcome.
Selection of multiple photos for deleting or sharing is available straight in the gallery. Unfortunately, sharing is only available via MMS, email or Bluetooth with no image sharing service integration. We guess that can be easily fixed by installing the necessary uploading profiles for the services you’re interested in. At least that’s how it works on non-touch Symbian smartphones.
The other features of the image gallery include the image tagging system for easier image sorting, the slide show and the albums system (again helping you sort your image database).
Overall, picture browsing is relatively fast even with 8MP pics, but zooming is somewhat slow. You need to wait for a second or two every time you start zooming in on a photo.
Album Cover Flow lands in Symbian
Symbian never had trouble with the music player features but its looks were far from impressive. With Symbian^3 however Nokia introduces a new Cover Flow-like interface, which adds the much needed eye-candy.
There’s automatic sorting by artist, album, genre and the option to create custom playlists straight on the phone.
Great audio output
In terms of audio quality the Nokia C6-01 behaves just as good as the other two Symbian^3 handsets we have tested so far. Despite the lower price, the C6-01 isn’t any worse than the N8 multimedia flagship, or the Cseries leader – the Nokia C7.
When attached to an active external amplifier (i.e. your car stereo or your home audio system), the Nokia C6-01 performs greatly with no weak points whatsoever. All readings achieved in that part of our test were simply excellent and directly comparable to the best on the market.
There wasn’t much quality deterioration when we plugged in the headphones either. Sure, the stereo crosstalk got a bit worse (but still remained lower than on any of the previous two Symbian^3 handsets) and we recorded some inte
Excellent video player
When it comes to video playback on Symbian smartphones, the Nokia C6-01 is still among the lucky few to have DivX and XviD support out of the box. And it doesn’t stop there.
The playback was silky smooth on all files with a resolution up to and including 720p, which is quite impressive.
FM radio comes with RDS
The FM radio on Nokia C6-01 has the same neat and simple interface as on its Symbian^1 predecessors. You can search skip preset and new stations alike with sweep gestures or you can use the virtual buttons.
The fixed focus cripples all the 8 megapixels
The Nokia C6-01 is equipped with an 8 megapixel camera for a maximum image resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. Unfortunately the C6-01 camera is also fixed-focus, just like the C7. Again, there’s a dual LED flash.
We already know that high resolution and fixed-focus is a combo that doesn’t seem to make much sense. The produced images turned out as bad as we expected. On top of that, the camera interface is still far from user-friendly.
There are only three shortcuts available in the viewfinder. Those allow you to toggle camcorder and still camera, set the flash and access the rest of the customizable settings.
Photo quality comparison
This is one of the first reviews in which we’ll offer you the benefit of our latest Photo Compare Tool. You can see how the Nokia C6-01 image quality compares to that of some of the other handsets we have reviewed. Clicking any of the following three images will take you to our dedicated page for some pixel-peeping pleasure.
Very good HD camcorder
The Nokia C6-01 shoots in 720p resolution at 25 fps and offers digital image stabilization. Clips are stored as MP4 files. Since the Nokia C7 did good with the camcorder we expected nothing more but the same. Fortunately the video quality is again a lot better than the image one.
The videos shot with the Nokia C6-01 managed to impress us. The amount of resolved detail is good enough, colors look nice, noise levels are kept reasonably low. They are perhaps even better than those produced by the XPERIA X10 after it got its HD-touting 2.1 update.
The price of the lower compression affects the file size – 10 seconds of video take about 16 MB.
The video-recording capabilities of the C6-01 make up big time for the poor still imaging. We do miss the smart digital zoom of the N8 but that’s probably the only gripe with the C6-01 camcorder.
Nokia C6-01 offers all kinds of network connectivity options – GPRS, EDGE and 3G with HSPA (10.2 Mbps HSDPA and 2.0 Mbps HSUPA). The GSM/EDGE networking comes in quad-band flavor and there are two different options for the 3G radio. The European C6-01 will come with quad-band 3G (900/1700/1900/2100 MHz), while the American and Asian version covers all the five bands available worldwide – 850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz.
USB is version 2.0, with the standard microUSB port capable of charging the phones besides transferring data.
We already covered the USB on-the-go functionality, but just for the record, we had almost 100% success of connecting USB flash drives and other Nokia phones, but that’s about it. The Nokia C6-01 didn’t connect to card readers and phones by other makers. Unlike the N8, though, the C6-01 doesn’t come along with an USB on-the-go adapter.
Bluetooth connectivity is version 3.0 with stereo support and there’s a WirelessN-enabled Wi-Fi radio.
The microSD card slot can be used for transferring data to and from your C6-01 and it’s hot-swappable. Also both the memory card and the internal memory are accessible when you connect the handset to a computer in Mass storage mode.
For the record, the Nokia C6-01 lacks the microHDMI port, found on the N8.
Web browser needs lots of tweaking
Unfortunately, Symbian^3 didn’t deliver the browser overhaul that the platform needs desperately. Despite the added multi-touch and FlashLite 4.0 support, t
Excellent organizing skills
Symbian^1 used to have a pretty decent organizer already so all Nokia needed to do is tune it up a bit and slightly polish the touch experience. And that’s exactly what they did – by taking the same streamlined approach as with the rest of the interface.
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 three types of events available for setting up – Meeting, Anniversary and To-do. Each event has some specific fields of its own, and some of them allow an alarm to be activated at a preset time to act as a reminder.
Symbian is still the best selling smartphone OS worldwide, but you won’t be able to tell that just by browsing the application stores of the different platforms. The Ovi store is way behind the Android Market, let alone the market-leading App Store.
Yet there are signs recently that Nokia are realizing the importance of apps to modern smartphone users. The company has refreshed their Ovi store interface to make it more user-friendly and it is finally making some serious effort to attract more developers. With such a huge user-base, success is merely a matter of time.
Ovi Maps comes with free lifetime navigation
The Nokia C6-01 comes with a built-in GPS receiver, which managed to get a satellite lock from a cold start (A-GPS turned off) in just over two minutes. Keeping the lock from then on was not an issue for the C6-01 even in a dense urban environment.
As you probably know since the start of the year Nokia made their Ovi Maps navigation free for all their smartphones, which naturally includes the C6-01. The voice guidance is currently available in over 70 countries and over 40 different languages, with even traffic information for more than 10 of those.
In addition, Nokia did a pretty decent job of the Ovi Maps application itself, blessing it with a cool, touch-friendly interface, as well as nice features such as the Lonely planet city guide, HRS hotels and the Michelin restaurant guide. There’s also an Event guide that lists all that’s happening within a 3km range of your position.
With Ovi Maps 3.04 you get three different view modes including satellite and terrain maps. Those however do need an internet connection. The more regular 2D and 3D view modes are also at hand and can be used with preloaded maps.