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Nokia E6 Review

 

Nokia E6 Review

 
Page 1 of 5

Pure touchscreen devices seem to have become the standard smartphone form factor, but there are many who retain a preference for a physical keyboard. For such people, the Nokia E6 offers an intriguing option. A software feature set equivalent to the Nokia N8 and other Symbian^3 phones, but in a very different hardware package. Rather than a portrait orientated screen only design, it offers a landscape orientated screen with an accompanying full QWERTY keyboard.

In talking about the E6, it is impossible not to reference the E71 and E72, its two immediate predecessors. The E71, in particular, was an iconic device for Nokia and both devices were among the best selling in Nokia's smartphone portfolio. The E6 is a refinement of these earlier devices: specification bumps in nearly all the key areas, a few hardware additions and updated software.

The most important change is the removal of the hardware softkey buttons and the addition of a touchscreen. With this comes the move from S60 3rd Edition to Symbian Anna, from a non-touch UI, to a touch centric UI. While this has only a small visual impact, it has a major influence on device operations and the overall user experience. Thus, while the E6 is a refinement of its predecessors, it also breaks new ground, as Nokia's first touch QWERTY slab form factor smartphone. The E6 will face off against the Blackberry 9900 later this year, but until then it is something of a unique offering. While the dominant form factor trend for smartphones remains the touch slab, there is plenty room for other options. Given the popularity of QWERTY in the last few years, most notably those in devices from Blackberry and Nokia, the touch QWERTY slab looks set to be one of the most popular alternatives.

The E6 arrives in the slimline version of the standard Nokia box. Inside, you'll find the phone, Nokia BP-4L battery, Nokia AC-15 charger, Nokia Stereo Headset WH-207 and a USB connectivity cable. In some markets, the device also comes with a leather slip case. Note that there is no USB OTG adaptor cable, so if you want to take advantage of that functionality you will need to buy the accessory (Nokia CA-157) separately. Also in the box you'll find a "Get to know your Nokia E6-00" fold-out leaflet. This replaces the slimline guide that Nokia was previously using. The topics covered are similar, but there's less text and better use of accompanying illustrations, which means it's quicker to read and more digestible.

The idea of having a full user guide in the box are long gone, rightly so given the waste implication and their ready availability in both PDF and HTML formats online. However, it is still helpful to have a getting started guide in the box and this new approach is one of the best I've seen. Couple it with the extensive and illustrated on-device User guide application (which can be accessed from other applications in a context sensitive manner) and you've got a device that is much more welcoming to new smartphone owners than many of its competitors.

Design and styling

Visually, the E6 is obviously messaging and business centric. It retains the strong identity of its predecessors, with the same clean lines and harmonious front aspect. Nonetheless, as we shall see, over the next few sections, there are some important design refinements in the E6. Critical in the design is balance between the keyboard and the screen. There's an element of aesthetics to this, but more important is getting the balance in the hand right. What impresses most about the design of the E6 is that the device feels balanced and comfortable to use, regardless of whether you are using the keyboard (one or two handed) or using the touchscreen.

In terms of materials, there's a combination of Gorilla Glass (screen), hard plastics (keyboard and sides) and stainless steel (front bezel and back). It's a similar combination to the E71 and E72, but with refinements to some of the detailing, such as the curved edges and camera hump, that make it feel more like a 2011 device. At 115.5 x 59 x 10.5mm in size, the E6 presents a similar front profile size to the N8 (113.5

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