Nokia C6-01 Review

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Following in the footsteps of its Nokia C6-00 predecessor, the C6-01 effortlessly competes on the smartphone market. Although the handset is not on top of the food chain per se, it does offer features that are vastly superior to most devices in the mid-range category.

At first glance, only a handful of downsides cripple the phone like the fixed focus of the camera or the lack of a document viewer, but the strong points easily overcome these disadvantages.

The phone is delivered with Symbian^3 on board, which might not be so appealing these days when iOS and Android are the real stars of the mobile phone market.

This is likely the main reason that the Finnish manufacturer decided to drop prices to the point that they become real bargains. Even with such an old mobile platform inside, Nokia smartphones still embed high performance hardware.

Nokia C6-01 was announced in September 2010 and hit the shelves two months later, in November.

Currently, customers can choose from two color schemes: Silver Grey or Black. Nokia C6-01 is available for purchase for around EUR 270 unlocked.

Design

Nokia C6-01 features a rounded pebble-like rectangle shape, which makes it more comfortable to carry and nice to the touch. The device measures 103.8 x 52.5 x 13.9 mm and weighs 131g (battery included). The smartphone has been completely dressed up in a metallic case, similar to Nokia N8, but this one is stainless steel rather than anodized aluminum. This gives the phone a solid look and protects it from scratches.

The phone’s medium size allows owners to easily carry the phone in any pocket. The C6-01 is a little bit heavier for its size because of the metallic case, but well balanced and ergonomically efficient.

The mid-size 3.2-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen is surrounded by a metallic stripe, which is both a design trait and a protective measure. Above the display are a secondary VGA camera, an ambient light sensor, as well as a proximity sensor and the in-call earphone. Nokia C6-01 features the usual set of three keys, just below the touch screen: Accept calls, Menu (Symbian) key and Reject calls. The latter can also be used to power on/off the phone.

The right side of the device features a dual volume key, a lock/unlock sliding key, as well as a dedicated camera key. The left side of the phone is keys-free and the same goes for the top side of the device. No less than three ports have been placed on the bottom side of the smartphone: charger port, 3.5mm audio jack and microUSB port.

The back side of the smartphone is made from stainless steel, including the battery cover. The C6-01 features an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and a small loudspeaker next to it.

The memory card slot has been placed under the battery cover, on the right side of phone, which means that users won’t need to pull out the battery to replace it.

Nokia C6-01 looks stylish enough to appeal even the most pretentious customers. The solid build and high quality materials makes it one of the best choices in its price range.

Display and Camera

The C6-01 comes with a nHD AMOLED 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen that supports 16 Million colors and 360 x 640-pixels resolution. However, the interesting thing about the display is that it features Nokia’s ClearBlack technology. The ClearBlack screens seem to be able to provide superior contrast and sunlight legibility by incorporating a layer that works similarly to a polarizing filter.

This is the first Nokia phone to include the ClearBlack technology, which seems to be more efficient indoors than outdoors. The main reason is the fact that Nokia has previously launched high-tier devices, such as Nokia N8 and E7, which perform very well when exposed under strong sunlight, so there’s no difference between these smartphones.

Furthermore, the screen is covered by scratch resistant Gorilla glass, which makes it almost unbreakable. Still, the display is prone to fingerprints and grease. The phone also features a built-in accelerometer for display auto-rotation, multi-touch input method, as well as proximity sensor for auto turn-off.

The 8-megapixel camera of the C6-01 features fixed-focus, dual-LED flash, geo-tagging, face detection and a straightforward interface.

Unfortunately, the fixed-focus feature makes a difference in comparison with autofocus and it’s not the C6-01’s favor.

The camera can take photos of up to 3264 x 2448 pixels in resolution, but the lack of autofocus will make close-up photos be worse than other 8-megapixle camera with this feature. Furthermore, the processing software of the camera tends to over-sharpen objects, while the noise reduction smears fine detail. The camera UI is another downside, as it seems old and obsolete with just the standard settings: White balance, ISO, Colors, Contrast, Sharpness and Scene modes.

Taking night pictures won’t be a problem, thanks to the dual-LED flash, but the results won’t be satisfying for close-ups (closer than 50 cm).

The maximum resolution that can be used for video recording is 720p@25fps in MP4 format. The quality of the clips is surprisingly good compared with the pictures, but selecting the maximum resolution will take its toll on the storage space.


Menu and Software

Just like the N8, C7 and E7, Nokia C6-01 is one of those Symbian^3 smartphones that were launched as a response to the Android hype. Unfortunately, they are software packages. Even though Symbian^3 is something “different” compared with earlier iterations of the operating system, it still feels like the mobile platform is somewhat behind its main competitors, Android and iOS.

The C6-01’s homescreen is now stretched on three panes, which can be populated with widgets, shortcuts, contacts or favorite websites. The interface is now a bit more responsive due to the removal of the “touch-to-select-touch-again-to-open” approach, that was specific to all Nokia touchscreen phones before Symbian^3.

The same block-like layout for the homescreen has been implemented, so if you want to add contacts, widgets and other stuff, you’ll be adding them in the form of block. You can change between them or remove them with ease, by tapping and holding on any of them.

The main menu can also be rearranged to look like a grid or list, but I wouldn’t recommend the latter as you won’t have all the icons in front of you and you will waste time scrolling through the programs. You will find applications that come pre-installed with the phone together with the Clock, Photo editor, Social networking services, Search, Ovi music, Office, Notes, Mail and other Symbian-specific functions.

Kinetic scrolling is now present and works smoothly. Clicking near the battery icon, on the upper right corner of the homescreen will give users quick access to the connectivity settings, alarms, as well as power saving features.

To bring up the Main menu key, click the large middle key. The key can also be set to highlight when you receive a message or you miss a call. The option can be found in the Setting menu, under “Notification lights”.

Some of the key applications that come pre-loaded with Nokia C6-01 include: calendar, calculator, file manager, recorder, Adobe PDF, QuickOffice, Zip, Dictionary, Message reader, Traveler, F-Secure. There’s no media sub-menu, but you get some dedicated apps under the Music menu: music player, Stereo FM RDS Radio and Ovi Music.

Unfortunately, you will have to pay to upgrade the QuickOffice application in case you want to create and edit new documents.

Overall, I believe that Nokia still has a lot to work in order to come out with something competitive. Obviously, there’s some improvement compared with Symbian ^1, such as the beautiful graphics and responsive interface, but there are still things that need to be done if Nokia wants to really take on Android and iOS.

Communication

Nokia C6-01 is a quad-band GSM (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900) handset, HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 (10.2 Mbps) compatible, and also features GPRS class 33 and EDGE class 33 support.

The smartphone is an all-rounder when it comes to connectivity. It has all the possible tools that one needs on the go. Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP, microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go support, HSDPA, 10.2 Mbps, HSUPA 2.0 Mbps offer users enough connectivity options for any budget.

The USB On-the-go feature is extremely useful, as users will be able to attach an USB stick to the phone or even connect another compatible smartphone directly to the C6-01 through an USB cable and transfer files.

The integrated browser is the one from the older N97 phone, but got minor improvements and bug fixes. It now has full Flash Lite 4.0 support, kinetic scrolling and pinch to zoom.

Other features included in the browser: auto fill-in, RSS reader, download manager, password manager, pop-up blocker. Unfortunately, Nokia still has a lot to work on this one, as the browser does not fit the text correctly when the zoom function is used, so you will still have to scroll sideways to be able to read the whole text. Also, you won’t be able to open webpages in new tabs, unless you click on a pop-up link.

The handset features a built-in GPS receiver, which works in conjunction with Ovi Maps 3.04 Touch. It comes with A-GPS function, which makes localization even faster.

In terms of messaging, the phone offers a complete solution, accepting all available message types. The message client works with POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols, and supports more than one email account. Also, it can download headers or full emails, and supports attachments. There’s a nice feature that will turn your text message into MMS automatically if you insert a clip, or into an email if you fill in the “To:” field with an email address.

The quad-band (GSM 850 / GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) network compatible smartphone has a very good GSM signal reception. The sound is very good at both ends, and pretty loud too.

Processor and Memory

Nothing new here, as Nokia C6-01 is powered by the same ARM11 family processor running at speeds of up to 680 MHz, that comes with the N8. Nokia stated that you should hold the power on/off button pressed for about 8 seconds to restart the device, if it freezes or you get a “system error” message.

The smartphone also features 340 MB of internal memory, as well as 256 MB RAM and 1GB ROM, which is an upgrade compared with the N8’s 512 MB ROM. The memory can be expanded up to 32GB and is hot-swappable. The sales package contains a 2GB microSD card.

Multimedia

Just like the rest of the Symbian^3 smartphones, the C6-01 features a new music player with an overhauled user interface that includes a Cover-flow-like album art feature. However, the rest of the settings remain the same, such as: Equalizer (Bass booster, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Rock), Balance, Loudness and Stereo widening. Sound quality is well above average, so the C6-01 can certainly be used as a music phone.

The device features FM Radio with RDS function, but no FM transmitter. Reception is very good, and sound is above average as well. The Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP support enables you to listen to music wirelessly.

The included video player comes with DivX and XviD codecs, but it won’t display subtitles. Also the C6-01 does not feature an HDMI port like Nokia N8.

Battery

The 1,050 mAh Li-Ion (BL-5CT) battery has an officially stated life expectancy of up to 408 hours of standby mode (372 for 3G) or up to 11 hours and 30 minutes of talk time (4 hours and 30 minutes for 3G).The manufacturer also states that the smartphone’s battery should last for about 50 hours of continuous music playback.

However, even though the numbers above seem impressive, the battery drains quickly when the phone is used for more than a few voice calls and the occasional listening to music. Thus, the C6-01 needed to be recharged every 2-3 days, just like the N8.

Impressions

Even though the C6-01 is nothing out of the ordinary, the smartphone is definitely better equipped than its competitors. All those Nokia innovative features like ClearBlack screen and USB-on-the-go make it much more appealing than most of the phones in the mid-budget category. The device offers the best value for money, which is a rare thing for a Nokia smartphone that usually tend to be overpriced.

The Good

Beside its premium look and solid build, the C6-01 is an all-rounder in all aspects. It does good pictures, excellent audio quality, outstanding data speeds and includes the best hardware that the Finnish manufacturer can muster.

HSDPA 10.2 Mbps and HSUPA 2 Mbps support, ClearBlack AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 8 megapixel camera, DivX and XviD video support, Flash and Java support for the web browser, as well as excellent audio quality are among the strong points of the C6-01.

The Bad

The worse things about the C6-01 is the low battery life, as well as the ‘unattractive’ mobile platform. Fixed-focus for camera and the lack of a document viewer are other downsides of the phone.