The C6 has a great look and feel to it. It’s comfortable to use with the screen open or closed, and has a classy feel overall. The keyboard is comfortable for typing, too
Much of the operating system feels outdated and ordinary. Symbian is currently being refreshed – this phone tells you why that’s necessary. And the resistive touch-screen means you need just that bit more pressure to make contact
Plenty of features here, from the five-megapixel camera with LED flash to Wi-Fi. All work seamlessly and efficiently, as you’d expect from Nokia
Sluggish touch-screen apart, the phone is mostly quite responsive and the keyboard means text input is simple
Nokia is renowned for its long battery life and you won’t have any trouble getting through a full day, perhaps two, before you need to rejuice
Nokia’s latest touch-screen handset certainly looks the part. The bright 3.2-inch screen is surrounded by a matt black casing, with three shiny buttons beneath to send and end calls or launch the menu. Press on the edge of the case and it spring-slides open to reveal a sizeable and pleasant to touch QWERTY keyboard. The slider is a straight-across one, not the slide and tilt screen variety that Nokia has used before.The keyboard is highly usable. Not only are the keys well spaced, they have a gentle backlight that fades up if you walk into a dark area. This is a neat effect that makes good use of the ambient light sensor, though it could perhaps be a little nippier.
Turn the phone around and you’ll find a five-megapixel camera with flash. On the side there’s the efficient lock screen slide switch we’ve come to like on Nokia touch-screen handsets. On the top of the phone there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and inside you’ll find Ovi Maps, the spectacular free mapping service that uses the phone’s GPS. Rounding off the specs are Wi-Fi, FM radio and Bluetooth.
Despite all these excellent features, there’s something unexciting about the C6. It’s not the price – compared to last year’s N97 this is almost a budget handset –there’s just something underwhelming about it.
First, there’s the resistive touch-screen, the cheaper, pressure-sensitive kind that just doesn’t cut it any more and reeks of budget corner-cutting. True, nobody handles resistive screens better than Nokia: the N900 was as fast and responsive as the best of the other, capacitive type of screen. And at least this type of screen means you can jab at it with a stylus or gloves on and it will respond. But the benefits of the pricier capacitive screen include pin-sharp visuals, which this phone doesn’t equal. Because it’s pressure-sensitive, you often find you haven’t pressed quite hard enough, so your input goes unnoticed. It’s a small thing, but when it happens repeatedly it gets old quickly.
Resistive screens can’t manage multi-touch inputs like the iPhone’s pinch-to-zoom effect. And while the N900 with its Maemo operating system had a very cool alternative where you drew a spiral to zoom in and out, this phone uses Symbian, and that feature is absent.
You can double-tap to zoom but the software doesn’t reformat the text to fit the screen as some phones do. In fact, the Symbian browser, which was once excellent and class-leading, is now slow and unresponsive. The truth is that Symbian, a system that has served us superbly to create simple, accessible phones, is long past its best. Thankfully, Nokia is currently working on its replacement.Nokia’s other skill with touch-screen phones, which no other maker has matched, is creating a handset that has an enjoyable chunkiness where other phones feel flat and wide. Call quality is excellent and the camera (another area where Nokia traditionally shines) is decent enough, though certainly suffers from a little more shutter lag than is desirable. And let’s not forget the main screen that Nokia has designed well. A configurable series of items including shortcuts to camera, calendar, Ovi Maps and so on, plus email, Facebook and your favourite contacts. This system works well and is enjoyable to use. Smartphones need big app stores to work at their best. Although the Ovi Store is growing fast, its repertoire of must-have items is still small compared with Apple or the Android marketplace. Battery life is also strong, and you won’t have any trouble getting through a full day, perhaps two, before you need to rejuice. In short, there’s a lot to like about the C6. But it just feels like it’s been overtaken by many other smartphones on the market.
The C6 is a good-looking, feature heavy smartphone that won’t break the bank. But it’s hard to whip up that much enthusiasm for it – the screen is not as responsive as a capacitive model and the Symbian S60 interface needs an overhaul. The C6 may be well-specced but there are better smartphones on the market.