Nokia has launched the E6, the second new smartphone in Nokia's portfolio to ship with the latest Symbian^3 update, dubbed 'Anna'. Officially unveiled right next to the entertainment-focused X7, it's the latest addition to Nokia's popular business line, and successor to cult favourites like the E72 (and the less popular E7).
The E6 combines the ease of use of the QWERTY monoblock form with a higher-resolution touchscreen that Nokia claims brings the device to 'a whole new level'. Having had some hands-on time with the smartphone, the VGA (640x480 pixels) resolution does indeed make screens appear crisp and clean on the relatively small, 2.46-inch display. At double the resolution of the E72, which clocked in at 320x240 pixels, this definitely helps improve the web browsing as well as document viewing experience.
The Nokia E6 comes in a compact and lightweight chassis that is reinforced with a stainless steel frame and battery cover, making the device feel solid and expensive in the hand. Like the E7, it packs an eight-megapixel camera, though this we didn't get a chance to test.
At 115.5x59x10.5 mm, it's more or less the same size as the E72, whose keyboard we lauded way back when. Here, the QWERTY keyboard is very comfortable and perfectly suited for single-handed use. Navigating the phone via a combination of touching and typing is intuitive, and the only problem might come from the 'one-touch' keys right below the display, as these are fitted under a single piece of plastic that increases the risk of accidental presses.
In comparison to its predecessors, a lock switch has been added that conveniently disables and enables both the touch-screen and hardware buttons. A hot-swap microSD slot handily lets you swap memory cards without having to remove the battery. As the phone comes with 8GB of memory, there's no bundled microSD as there often is.
The Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery is user-replaceable, with a touted battery life of 31 days on standby and eight hours (on 3G) of talk time. And even though these numbers are probably not as accurate in real life, this is still an impressive accomplishment for such a feature packed device.
Charging of the phone is possible with the standard Nokia 2mm charging jack or via the microUSB connector that supports data transfer and a USB feature that lets you connect and read external flash drives.
The Nokia E6 first and foremost is a business device, so it comes with a suite of productivity apps. The contact book is integrated with the Microsoft Communicator IM program with its own home screen widget, while the standards are present and correct: Mail for Exchange, Adobe PDF Reader and a full version of QuickOffice for document viewing and editing. Another notable new addition is the pre-installed premium version of 'JoikuSpot' (£8 in Ovi Store), which turns the phone into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot so other devices can connect to the internet.
Other improvements with the Symbian Anna update include a refreshed WebKit-based browser with a fresh new look as well as improved stability and speed. Also to ship with the E6 is the latest version of Ovi Maps, and one of the useful new features is the ability to download and update maps over the air instead of connecting to a PC.
On first looks, the new features are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, on a range where Nokia has a formula that it knows works. We'll have a full in-depth review soon.