Review: Nokia C6-01

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By JC Ansis

The last time I owned a Nokia phone was in 2004. It was a white 3110 and was conveniently small, had animated screensavers and polyphonic ringtones. And it glowed in the dark. Back then, Nokia phones were hot like freshly baked butter cookies. It came out with new handsets almost every month, and people were purchasing them like crazy. So when I was handed the Nokia C6-01, I actually felt oblivious. I didn’t know what to expect because I was never really into the Symbian OS and I was clueless of Nokia’s recent developments as far as touchscreen phones were concerned.

Let’s talk about aesthetics first. The Nokia C6-01 measures 103.8mm (tall) x 52.5mm (wide) x 13.9mm (thick) and weighs about 131 grams. It’s a chunky gizmo—a bit on the heavy side. The housing consists of a chrome trim bordering the touchscreen and a metal rear casing. The metal cover gives the phone an “indestructible” feel to it, but also provides an ergonomic sense of comfort in the palm of your hand.

A 0.3-megapixel camera for video calling can be seen on top of the screen. Underneath the display are three backlit buttons for Call and End, flanked by a Menu button in the middle. Lined on the right side of the phone are the volume buttons, lock switch and the camera shortcut button. Revealed at the bottom are a microUSB port for PC connectivity, the charging connector port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Nokia C6-01 is powered by a 680Mhz ARM 11 processor and comes preloaded with Nokia’s Symbian^3 OS. The device runs on 256MB of RAM and has approximately 340MB of internal memory. For the display, the C6-01 features a ClearBlack AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. There was a high level of responsiveness when I played around with it, having minimal instances of sluggishness. The screen does a great job of showing off its colors even in bright light.

On the homescreen are three panes that can be populated with a bunch of widgets, shortcuts, apps and other stuff. It’s got a block-like layout, and tapping or holding on any item allows you to change or remove them with ease. Though I must warn you that anyone with remotely big fingers should steer clear of this phone for fear of frustration when typing a text message using the QWERTY keypad. The keys are small and sometimes what the screen captures isn’t accurate, causing me to use “backspace” a lot. I ended up using the phone entirely in portrait mode with its numeric pad.

If you’re worrying about connectivity, you shouldn’t be. The smartphone has all the essential tools one might need on the go. The C6-01 has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB on-the-go support, HSDPA and GPS. There’s a built-in software for all your office documents and there’s one app that lumps your Facebook and Twitter updates together. Additional apps can be downloaded from Nokia’s Ovi Store which is growing slowly but obviously still very far behind its Apple and Android rivals. Setting up mail accounts for Yahoo! and Gmail was a piece of cake with its improved mail client support.

I did, however, have some issues with Nokia’s browser. It was very slow and stuttered when swiping around, especially on large pages. The browser struggled when trying to pan, zoom, and input text. And loading rich websites can lead to somewhat jerky navigation.

To compensate for its flaws, the C6-01 is equipped with an 8-megapixel camera. It’s easy to use and very clear-cut in snapping shots. The snapper has fixed focus, dual LED flash, face detection, geo-tagging, and 2x digital zoom capabilities. I experienced a minor issue with macro shots, which often looked blurry and murky. The editing software that comes with it is very useful and one of the most comprehensive editing tools I’ve seen built in a smartphone. Video recording was slightly above average, capturing videos of up to 1280 x 720 resolutions at 25fps.

The music player can play MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, AMR, and MIDI formats, while the video player supports MPEG4, H.263, H.264, RealVideo 10, and Flash Video. Voice calls were clear and crisp. When I received or made a call in a busy environment, the Nokia C6-01 still maintained good volume and audibility. The phone’s battery life lasted for about two days on a full battery charge, despite my heavy use of the camera, web browsing, GPS and media playback.

Overall, the Nokia C6-01 is a solid gadget. Nokia handsets have been known to be trusty gadgets that gets the job done but with little flair, and the C6-01 is one of them. Though it may lack some of the glitz of rival devices based on Android or iOS, the Nokia C6-01 performs to be a dependable everyday smartphone.

Specifications:
FORM FACTOR: Candy bar
DIMENSION: 103.8 x 52.5 x 13.9 mm
SCREEN: 3.2” AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 360 x 640 pixels
PROCESSOR: 680Mhz ARM 11 processor
CAMERA: 8 MP (back), 0.3 MP (front)
CONNECTIVITY: GPRS, EDGE, 3G HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
OS: Symbian 3

What’s Hot:
 • Great build and classy look
• Excellent audio quality
• USB on-the-go support
• 8MP camera

What’s Not:
 • Browser’s poor response
• Camera’s fixed-focus could do better

Bottomline:
If you’re looking for a reliable, good-looking smartphone that combines “pocketability” and performance, the Nokia C6-01 is an impressive option.

Buy Meter: 8.4

[This review originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Gadgets Magazine]