Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Billed as an entry-level smartphone on Bell's network (free with a three-year plan, $249 no contract), the Nokia C6 bears some similarity to last year's Nokia flagship N97. Light in weight but not in features, the C6 comes loaded with a 5Megapixel camera, video calling, OVI Maps and a touch-screen display coupled with a large slide out QWERTY keyboard.
A perfect example of technology and features going down the budget line, the Nokia C6 is an all around decent Symbian smartphone that will satisfy Symbian devotees. We find that it is similar to the N97, minus the metal parts and the fact that the C6 has a slightly smaller screen. The N97 had larger storage capacity and this was built in whereas the C6 needs a MicroSD card for expansion.
This really is the N97 drummed down to a budget package as both the OS and the 434MHz ARM processor are identical which means there is very little that the N97 can do that the C6 can't.
We liked the simple, understated look and feel. Here is a smartphone that doesn't call attention to itself, the slight blue strip at the bottom of the front fascia is the only bit of personality it seems to have. We like that it feels like a solid candybar-style phone and that the slide-out keyboard is perfectly concealed. The slide-out mechanism is a bit abrupt, if you think you can simply snap it open with your thumb you will quickly learn that the mechanism can also propel it out of your hands.
The keyboard looks and works great, it is rubbery and has very little play but it is also pretty silent. Messaging fiends will have an easy enough time thumbing-out emails and text with the keyboard but not so with the touchscreen.
The resistive touchscreen is a bit of a mixed bag. for one thing we found it difficult to enable the "swipe to unlock," feature which always took more than three or four tries. Not ideal for a device that needs to be accessed and deployed quickly and I think punching in a code to unlock the screen might be a better option for this type of screen. Capacitive screens are far better for the swiping and touchy-feely interactions and in this small detail, you feel the touchscreen and the OS is out of its depth.
One of the nicer features in this phone is a sleep switch on the side. It can easily be deployed when the phone is in your pocket and you get confirmation by way of a subtle vibration. As far as the 5 Megapixel camera goes, it is good for photos and for video but it isn't stellar. If your subject is well exposed and you have a steady hand then you'll get some great photos which are geo-tagged by the GPS to boot. Shoot in the dark or in poorly lit scenes and you will be disappointed, even with the bright LED light.
Call quality and clarity on the C6 is exceptional although we found the speakerphone to be too soft in terms of volume and the sound was often tinny and at times garbled but we tend to blame this on interference on the caller's end. As for all the OVI store perks, they're all here and they are free. You get the requisite Ovi Maps application which seems to have been refined as it works quite a bit faster than our previous experience and seems to be more accurate even if you are indoors, out of the GPS line-of sight.
Overall a robust, well appointed and feature packed Symbian smartphone, the Nokia C6 is a great choice for anyone who has lusted after the N97 but found it out of their price range. I would say it is 85% similar experience minus the premium niceties of the N97 such as the tilt keyboard, large internal storage, Zeiss optics and TV out. A keeper, for sure.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5