Nokia C6: Hands on

We're at Nokia World in the ICC Excel in London and we've just got our hands on the C6, one of Nokia's new smartphones to run on its finally revealed Symbian^3 OS.

 

Look and feel
The C6 is a compact full touch phone with rounded edges and a 3.2-inch capacitive touch-screen. Its stainless steel body is capped off by a glass screen, giving it a higher-end feel than most Nokia phones of late, and it feels light but solid in the hand. An eight-megapixel camera with dual LED flash sits at its back, but adds very little to its girth.
The three customisable homescreens are done in familiar Symbian style, with boxy widgets for news, social network updates, contacts and more. The goods are beneath the hood though, with the C6 - along with the other three Symbian^3 smartphones Nokia has unveiled today - packing a beefier processor and graphics accelerator that makes it faster and slicker to use.
The touch-screen, for one, is one of Nokia's nicest yet, requiring the lightest swipes and taps to navigate the system. It features Nokia's new 'CBD' or ClearBlack Display, which gives the display a higher, clearer contrast, and increases screen visibility in direct sunlight or from an angle. Since we were inside, we couldn't really test this out - but we're going to be doing some serious comparison to the Super AMOLED screen on Samsung's new set of phones, and of course, the iPhone 4's Retina Display.

 

Ease of use
Though the touch-screen felt great, the keyboard wasn't all that. In portrait, you have to use T9-style keypad, and it's not quite quick enough to keep up. You get a full QWERTY in landscape, but the same problem remains. We had to type quite slowly. Predictive text is nowhere near as good as Apple or Android devices - we often typed the wrong word, but instead of auto-completing with the right word, you have to actually tap on the given suggestion, even when there's only one. Spacebar also doesn't switch you back from symbols to letters.
Email again looks the same - text on a black background - but new-Symbian can now read rich text, so you'll be able to view pictures, cool fonts and the like. It's not the world's most exciting interface, but now you can easily switch between different email accounts by tapping on inbox, say if you have Gmail and Ovi Mail accounts. Unlike old Symbian, clicking on an email opens it in full screen, so there's loads more real estate to read those missives from Mom.
And yes, we have multi-touch! You can pinch to zoom in emails and the full HTML browser (think desktop like browsing, though we couldn't test this thanks to overloaded networks at Nokia World).
The homescreens are relatively intuitive to customise, and it's all built around widgets. To add a simple shortcut, you have to add a shortcuts widget first, and then populate it with the (up to four) shortcuts you want. That's just like in old Symbian devices though.
There's a refreshed multitasking toolbar too - simply hold down the central OK button and you'll bring up a swipeable row of open apps, which you can then close from here.

 

What's special
The selling point of the C6 is its great contacts book and dialer setup. It's positioned a social phone with a couple widgets for Facebooking, tweeting and otherwise getting in touch with people.
The favourite contacts widget pops your besties on the homescreen - simply tap on a contact photo, and you can view their details as well as recent updates on social networks, then get in touch any way you want - phone, email, text. There's also a Twitter/Facebook updates widet, where you can view statuses and make your own posts direct from homescreen.
Unlike the iPhone and several high-end Android phones though, you can't automatically sync Facebook and Twitter contacts with your phonebook. Instead, you'll have to manually connect each contact with their social profile - which is kind of a pain. Nokia says it's because you don't necessarily want all 500 of your Facebook friends on your phone, but other devices get around this by only actually syncing the friends whose phone numbers you already have. So this may not be the ultimate social phone after all.

 

The C6 comes in black or silver and will ship in Q4. Its price before subsidies is EUR260, though this could be different in the UK.

Written by Mobile Choice
Mobile Choice

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