A lightweight and slimline feel with a funky, mirrored finish.
The keypad looks fiddly but is surprisingly easy to use, and there are no complicated features to catch you out.
For a low-cost phone the Alcatel 621 has a decent amount of features, including a music player, a camera and Stereo Bluetooth.
The music player sounds slightly tinny, but we tried out an 8GB memory card and it didn’t slow down performance at all.
Battery life is average.
A low-cost phone that packs a good number of features, it is excellent value for money.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:54:46 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Expertly built, stylish design, fluid slider and internal memory hike.
Still overpriced, with limited memory and only a slight feature upgrade.
Nokia’s Arte phone series have always been at the ‘budget’ end of the premium phone spectrum. The latest models come in around the £300-£500 mark with a £40-£55 contract. This price, compared with the higher end luxury handsets like the Vertu range, has proved more attainable and popular with those looking for a sophisticated and uber stylish phone.
The Carbon is the third in the Arte series – a more bling 18-carat Gold edition is also imminent – and arrives not only with a new finish and a minor feature upgrade but its SIM-free price is now just north of a grand.
Placed next to previous Arte phones like the Sapphire, the Carbon displays no major design differences apart from its new quality carbon fibre, titanium and stainless steel metal spun bodywork. It certainly gives this Arte a classier and elegant edge compared with its stablemates, not to mention a 150g weight problem. That said, this pocket sagging heft is a mark of quality.
The Carbon also retains that effortless signature slider action that, with perhaps the exception of the Motorola Aura’s (see review opposite) swivel mechanism, has yet to be equalled. It’s robust but fluid, opening and shutting with a satisfying clunk.
Protected by hardened scratch resistant glass, the two-inch OLED display is crisp and vivid and, as befits Nokia’s green credentials, designed to save on battery consumption. And if you want to keep your handset in perfect nick, the phone also comes with a handy pouch.
The Carbon runs on the straightforward Symbian Series 40 and is great to work through. Its keypad is also nice to thumb with the buttons slanted for added purchase while the five-way joypad and soft and call keys are similarly lucid to press.
For a luxury phone, the Carbon has some pretty impressive features. Find the right lighting conditions and the autofocus-led 3.2-megapixel snapper can just about produce printable 6x4 sized snaps. It has a smattering of photo effects, brightness control and white balance to tinker with but generally, in native mode, it takes decent snaps.
Its video recording capabilities are also surprisingly slick, shooting in a VGA-quality resolution at 15fps. There are traces of digital noise but it’s still easily good enough for posting videos on YouTube.
Support for 3G means brisk download speeds and with the fantastic and efficient Opera Mini web browsing embedded, full fat internet surfing is made ludicrously easy and highly viewable on the compact
Along with the Carbon’s new full metal jacket, the only other noticeable feature upgrade is the internal memory hike from 1GB to 4GB. The boost is great for users wanting to use the Carbon as their music player but the lack of memory card slot does limit its multimedia potential. Still, 4GB can stockpile around a 1,000 average sized MP3 or AAC files, so it will be more than enough for most music fans.
The Carbon also has a few quirky tricks up its metal sleeve. One quick tap of the phone in standby mode and the time will appear (although this wasn’t the most responsive) while you can easily mute incoming calls by turning the phone face down.
If you’re in the market for a deluxe premium handset then the Carbon Arte is easily the most cost effective solution without sacrificing design and grade A build quality in the process. A classy phone all round.