Nokia E6 Review

By Vishal Mathur | Updated Jul 23 2011
Nokia E6 Review
DIGIT RATING
80 /100
  • design

    80

  • performance

    60

  • value for money

    70

  • feature

    70

  • PROS
  • Touch plus physical QWERTY combo is a priceless combo
  • Sleek form factor with classy finish & solid build
  • Symbian is zippier after the Anna update
  • QWERTY is very comfortable to use
  • Higher resolution makes for a crisp display
  • Very good camera
  • Excellent battery life
  • CONS
  • Symbian Anna may be zippier, but still feels a little sluggish
  • 2.46-inch display as a touchscreen isn't always a comfortable proposition
  • UI tends to feel a bit cramped with too many elements
  • Widgets sizes cannot be changed
  • Archaic method of small/normal/large to manage text font size

Verdict

For a price of around Rs. 17k, the E6 is a smartphone with the touchscreen plus physical QWERTY keypad, latest Symbian Anna OS, a sleek (albeit slightly heavy) form factor and an excellent battery life. While it is often said that the E-series competes directly with Blackberry smartphones, it is interesting to note that the E6 falls slam bang between two Blackberry smartphones (the Curve 3G @ Rs. 14k and the Bold 9700 @ Rs. 19k), and isn't really competing with either of them.

BUY Nokia E6

Price 17655

Nokia E6 detailed review

It is a topic of intense debate whether Nokia’s newer smartphones have ever lived up to the brilliance of the erstwhile N-Series (N95 8GB, N82, N72 etc.) and the E-Series smartphones. A lot of attempts were made, some good, but some were really bad. However, we are really impressed by what the E6 offers. Nokia, it seems, has gotten the combination right this time.


Look and Feel
The E6 has a very classy look to it. Is it because of the extremely slim form factor? Or is it because of the chrome around the edges of the front panel? We think it is a combination of both, along with the fact that E6 has matter of fact looks. Straightaway, you know this is a no-nonsense business phone with a physical QWERTY keypad and a small-ish display. However, what you may not realize straightaway is that the 2.46-inch display is a high-resolution capacitive touchscreen as well.

The right side has the volume rocker, and the display lock/unlock slider key. Nokia could have easily done away with this slider key, and let the power key do the same job, like we have seen on most Android phones and the iPhone. Surprisingly, the micro USB port is hidden away behind a plastic cover that is pretty tacky to open. The rear panel has the 8MP camera and the dual LED flash. The battery cover is metal, and the opening mechanism is pretty slick. The SIM card slot is pretty nicely hidden away somewhere beside the battery, but the slide out mechanism is a very neat method.

[RELATED_ARTICLE]Back to the front panel, and below the display is the four directional navigation key and the call connect/disconnect buttons are on either side. The home button is to the left of the navigation key, and is flanked by quick access keys for calendar, messaging and contacts. Three of these can be modified to open other apps. The physical keypad is the full-fledged QWERTY one, with the numbers integrated on alphabet keys right in the middle of the layout. If you are a Blackberry user, this is something you will need to get used to, since BB smartphone QWERTYs have the numbers towards the left side of the layout. The bezel below the QWERTY pad is pretty wide, not that it makes any difference in the comfort level of using the E6, or with how you hold the phone.

The form factor of the phone is pretty conventional as far as QWERTY keypad based smartphones are concerned. The positives about the E6 are that the build quality is great, and the form factor is pretty slim. It fits well in the hand, and can be used with the same hand that is holding the phone. The E6 feels slightly heavy, but then again, at 133 grams, it isn’t a brick. However, the Blackberry Bold 9700 steals a march on this one, and it weighs less at 122 grams. We have also been spoilt by thin and feather light (but more expensive) Android smartphones!

Features
The most important upgrade Nokia could have given the E6 is a better OS than the version of Symbian^3 that arrived with the likes of the N8 and the E7. The Anna update does make a lot of difference. In terms of UI, the icon edges are noticeably rounded, unlike the ones in the first version of Symbian 3. But, the biggest update seems to be with the performance. Before the Anna update, Symbian 3 felt painfully sluggish, partly because of underpowered processors, and mostly because the OS itself wasn’t conducive to good performance. Symbian Anna also brought in an updated browser, mail client, etc.

Click to enlarge

Speaking of processors, this business-oriented smartphone is powered by a 680MHz ARM 11 processor, and paired with 256MB of RAM. While the performance isn’t too bad, the power deficit is certainly there. Symbian OS, despite the Anna update, isn’t as slick as the new Blackberry 6 OS. The Blackberry Bold 9700, with the OS 6 update, feels faster on an even less powerful processor (624MHz) with the same amount of RAM. Nokia needs to do something to make Symbian lumber around less, and needs to do that fast. And move beyond the 680MHz processors, and bring on the speed! Perhaps Belle phones will change all that.

There are not many changes in the interface, when compared to Symbian^3. The UI style, multiple screen navigation, and menu layouts are essentially the same. Everything feels smaller and more cramped on the smaller display, though. The biggest give-away about the fact that this phone carries the latest Symbian version remain the rounded edges on icons. The home screen layout is pretty similar across all the screens. There can be 2 to 3 small widgets to the left, placed vertically. The rest of the space can be taken up by a maximum of 3 rectangular widgets.

The E6 has 8GB built-in storage, with a microSD slot for up to 32GB more.

Read more about the Nokia E6's performance, and our verdict, on the next page...

Also read,

Nokia X5-01 - Palm-sized QWERTY [Review]
Nokia X3-02 - Basic mobile phone, that does quite a bit [Review]

 

 

Performance
While not the only index, the performance of the device is directly based on its processor power. While we can fathom (albeit with a great difficulty) why Nokia loves 680MHz processors so much (maybe they got them in bulk, and need to finish the stock?), it is pretty much unbelievable how 256MB of RAM was considered enough for a phone that will, at any point of time, run multiple applications in the background – mail, IM, social networking, web browser etc. Having said that, the E6 performs well within the narrow boundaries set for it, if you stick to them.

Nokia really needs to focus on making their phones feel actually fast, and not just barely there. The E7 had the same processor with the 2D/3D Graphics hardware accelerator, and we felt that even that phone deserved a more powerful engine to drive it along. Here too, there is a slight but distinct lag and stuttering when you would flick between the multiple screens, or scroll through the menu, when multiple applications are loaded and/or connected to the web.

However, moving on to the more positive things. The QWERTY keypad is an absolute delight to use. The key size is very slightly bigger than what we see in the Blackberry Bold 9700, and the slight bulge on the keys makes typing quickly very easy. The phone is slim enough to allow you to type with the same hand that is holding the phone. The space below the keyboard proves to be critical in this aspect, since the phone doesn’t threaten to slip off when you are trying to access the spacebar or the symbol key or “@”. The number keys are integrated with the alphabets towards the center of the keypad, which carries on which the general tradition followed by E- series smartphones.

[RELATED_ARTICLE]The 2.46-inch screen is a humble TFT display, with capacitive touchscreen capabilities. While we may not find this size of a screen very comfortable for extensive touchscreen use, there is no running away from the fact that the display quality is very good. The resolution of 640x480 pixels is a lot more than what the immediate rivals offer. With the brightness set at barely 20%, the display was good enough for all non-sunlight usage scenarios. In sunlight, the legibility is quite okay, but you will need to work a bit to make out some parts of the text. A theme with lighter colours and background should help. However, you will also need to slightly increase the brightness. The crispness of the display was equally well matched by the colour vividness. Obviously the display technology has its limitations in this case, but for what it has, the E6 puts on a good face, err, display. The touchscreen response is way better than what we expected. The physical keyboard and touchscreen combo does work well, and we believe that’s what makes the E6 worth the moolah.

What is really annoying is that Symbian still uses the archaic small/normal/large method of changing text size. For someone who doesn’t have very good eyesight, that can be a bit of a faff. Blackberry and iPhones use the font size method (10pt, 11pt etc) allowing users to set the text size they are comfortable with. Nokia has preloaded the phone with the Text Magnifier app, but that has two problems. First, it only magnifies certain text in the UI, and a text message isn’t one of them! Secondly, the text sometimes doesn’t fit very well once it has been magnified.

Battery life has for long been the issue with smartphones. What if we tell you that the E6 battery lasts 2 full days, and a bit more? Don’t believe us yet? Trust us when we say it, but even we were quite surprised. With mails syncing, Facebook pulling in updates, a few Gtalk chats strewn across, a couple of app downloads from the Ovi Store and a few voice calls – all in all, the battery does hold up very well. For someone who will be travelling a lot, that does make a lot of sense.

We are grateful that Blackberry and Nokia have finally realizing that crappy cameras won’t do any more on business phones. The 8MP clicker on this one is surprisingly good. Nokia uses the same 8MP imaging engine that was used in the Nokia E7, so while there is no autofocus again, you get a fixed focus, EDoF (Extended Depth of Field) system. The results aren’t as good as the Nokia N8, but...for a business phone, it performed above our expectations. Even in very low lighting conditions, the resulting pictures are surprisingly noise free. The colour depth is quite good, and the sharpness levels are satisfactory. Photos can be clicked up to a max size of 3264x2448. The dual LED flash does make its presence felt when needed the most. The 720p HD video capabilities are extremely useful, since the videos are actually worth calling good!

Click to enlarge

The web browser that has been rolled out with the Anna update is much better than the predecessor. Pages load faster, and the OSD is laid out clearly. The browser self cleans itself of any temp files upon exit. The minor interface changes are welcome, but the biggest relief is the enhanced web page rendering speed.

The in-call audio quality is pretty crisp, yet remains soft on the ears. Volume levels are quite good, making listening easy in noisy situations. The speaker tends to run out of steam, if there is a lot of noise around. But if you are using it in a room with not too many people, then it does the job.

Since this is a business phone, that also gives an aura of knowing what fun is, it is expected to handle serious email stuff as well as the fun social networking equally well. The email client is pretty simple to set up and use. The accompanying widget can be used to see whom the latest mail(s) is from, and access the inbox directly from there. The mail app supports account from Google, Windows Live Mail, Yahoo mail and Mail For Exchange. The Social app allows you to sign in and keep up with the updates from Facebook and Twitter. No integration with the E6’s built-in messaging app, like a lot of Android phones are doing. You would be forgiven (and sympathized with!) if you were furiously searching for an IM client, but are unable to find one. Surprisingly, Nokia doesn’t preload the phone with their IM app- Nokia Chat. Download that from the Ovi Store, and you can sign in to Gtalk, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo, ICQ and Ovi Chat.

Nokia has a lot of hopes resting on the Symbian Anna update, particularly after the first version of Symbian^3 bombed spectacularly at the box office. A few changes have been made to the UI, but these changes are minimal. The performance has definitely seen a change for the better. Flicking between the multiple screens is smoother, despite each of them being full of widgets. The menu navigation is also smoother, and the response time taken by apps is lesser than what we noticed on Symbian^3 pre-Anna update. We will be doing a deeper analysis on Symbian Anna very soon, so stay tuned for that.

Our Take
The E6 has a lot going for it, and that is something we haven’t said about most Nokia phones for quite a while now. A slim form factor, high quality build, very comfortable keypad, good display with a sure touchscreen, much better than expected camera and an excellent battery life – the list of positives is quite long. On the flipside, the E6 is surprisingly heavy. However, that really shouldn’t put you off.

We have seen the E6 retailing for about Rs 17k, and what you get is a well-built smartphone with the touchscreen and physical QWERTY keypad, running on the latest Symbian Anna OS. While it is often said that the E-series competes directly with Blackberry smartphones, it is interesting to note that the E6 falls slam bang between two Blackberry smartphones (the Curve 3G @ Rs 14k and the Bold 9700 @ Rs 19k), and isn’t really competing with either of them. Neither does Blackberry offer, as yet, a smartphone at this price that has both a touchscreen and a QWERTY keypad. If this falls within your budget, we would strongly urge you to check out this phone.

Price: Rs. 18,679

Specs
Platform: Symbian Anna; Processor: 680MHz ARM11 processor; Display: 2.46-inch TFT Display, 640x480 pixel resolution, capacitive touchscreen, Gorilla Glass; Storage: 8GB internal, microSD up to 32GB; Camera: 8MP with 720p HD video; Battery: 1500 mAh

Test Scores Log Sheet

Brand

Nokia

Model
E6
Street Prices (Rs)
17,000
Price (MRP, Rs)
18,679
Features
 
Physical Specs
 
Form Factor
Bar
2G Network Bands

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900

3G Network Bands

HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100

Screen Resolution

640 x 480 pixels

Screen Size (inches)

2.46 inches

Maximum Screen colours
16M

Touchscreen / Dual Screen (Y/N)

Y/N
Battery Rating

1500 mAh

Dimensions (L x W x H)

115.5 x 59 x 10.5 mm

Weight
133g
Expandable Memory Type
microSD
RAM (in MB)
256
SoC (CPU, GPU)

ARM 11 processor, 2D/3D Graphics HW Accelerator with OpenVG1.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0

CPU Clock speed
680MHz
No. of CPU cores
1
Hot Swappable (Y/N)
Y
Available Colours

Black, silver, gray

Other Features
 

Operating System (Tested with)

Symbian Anna

Charging via USB (Y/N)
Y

Hardware Keypad (Regular/QWERTY)

QWERTY

Accelerometer (For auto rotate)

Y
Address Book Capacity
Unlimited
No of calls in register
Unlimited

Talk Time / Standby Time (3G) *

Up to 7.30 hrs/Up to 744 hrs

No of Profiles # / Customisable

6/Y

Offline Opearability (Y/N)

Y

Inbuilt GPS / A-GPS support (Y / N)

Y
Connectivity
 
Browsing (GPRS/EDGE/3G)
Y/Y/Y
EDGE max speed (in kbps)
236.8
3G max speed (in mbps)
10.2

Connectivity (WiFi/Bluetooth/IR/USB)

Y/Y/N/Y

Bluetooth Version/A2DP support

3.0/Y
Camera Specs
 

Camera Resolution (Mega Pixels)

8
Video Capture Resolution
1280X720
Auto focus / flash
Y/Y
Type of flash

Dual LED

Secondary camera for video chat

Y

Mirror for self portrait (Y / N)

N
Camera Settings (So 10)
6.5
Zoom (Optical/Digital)
Digital
Multimedia
 
Music Formats supported
MP3/WMA/WAV/RA/eAAC
Video formats supported
MP4/H.264/H.263/RV
FM Radio / RDS (Y/N)
Y/Y
Accessories
 
Bundled Accessories

USB Cable, wall charger, handsfree, microSD card

Size of memory card provided

8GB

Build and Ergonomics (So 10)

 
Surface materials used
7.5

Overall build and in-hand feel

7.5
Quality of moving parts
7
Design and ergonomics
6.5

Keypad design (on-screen or hardware)

7
Menu and interface
7

Settings and ease of navigating menus

7
Camera menu options
6.5
Performance
 

Signal Reception and Voice Clarity (So 10)

 
Zone 1
7
Zone 2
5
Zone 3
4
Handsfree Clarity
6
Loudspeaker Clarity
6
Earpiece Clarity
7.5
Handsfree Volume
6
Loudspeaker Volume
6.5
Earpiece Volume
7.5

Bluetooth Transfer Speed (in KBps)

199

Imaging and multimedia tests

 
Captured Photo Colour
7.5
Captured Photo Crispness
7.5
Captuted Photo Detail
7
Captured Video Quality
7

Effectiveness of integrated flash

7

Music Quality (loudspeaker)

5.5
Music Quality (handsfree)
5

Volume levels (loudspeaker)

6.5
Volume levels (handsfree)
6
Display (So 10)
 
Crispness
7
Colour
7
Contrast
7
Font rendition
6.5

Legibility in bright sunlight

6
Video playback
6.5
 
 
* Manufacturer Rated
 

Contact: Nokia India
Phone: 91 (city code) 30303838
Email: http://www.nokia.co.in/support/ask-nokia

Also read,

Nokia X5-01 - Palm-sized QWERTY [Review]
Nokia X3-02 - Basic mobile phone, that does quite a bit [Review]

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Vishal Mathur

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107637899696060330891/posts

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Nokia E6

Price : ₹17655

Nokia E6

Price : ₹17655

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