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Nokia E6 - Review


Nokia E6 - Review

The Nokia E6 is a smartphone designed and manufactured by Nokia and features the Symbian mobile operating system. The E6 features a portrait QWERTY keyboard and boasts as much as 15 hours of talk-time. The E6 is available in black, white and silver.

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Review

The Nokia E6 is the latest, greatest and possible last in the covenant E-Series devices from Nokia which is near and dear to the business user. The E-Series in a sense is Nokia's answer to the BlackBerry dominance in the Enterprise sector and found great success in devices like the Nokia E71 and the Nokia E72.

In our review which follows we will take a look at the latest in Nokia's E-Series and see how it stacks up in the current market dominated by iOS and Android. Does Symbian have a place in our hearts? or did Nokia make the right choice with Windows Phone?

The Nokia E6 brings the very best in design and quality with it's premium build quality. The device is available in Black and in White with a metal frame around the it's body and in the back protecting the battery. Lets take a look at some of the featured specifications of this device
  • 2.46 inch capacitive touchscreen display
    • Corning Gorilla Glass protection
    • 640 x 480 pixel resolution
  • QWERTY keyboard
    • dedicated keys to calendar, messaging and contacts
  • 8 megapixel camera
    • dual-LED flash
    • 720p HD video recording
  • 8GB of internal storage which can be expanded through microSD
  • Superior build quality with
    • stainless steel body
    • four row QWERTY keyboard
  •  Symbian OS Anna
    • Video format support (DivX, XVid, MKV)
    • Office document viewer and editor
    • Social network integration
    • Java and Flash Lite support
  • Excellent battery life
Nokia has once again chosen to use a fixed focus camera on the E6 which I continue to find frustrating. Close-up photos generally turn out blurred and distorted. Considering that this device is aimed at the enterprise customer I guess you could argue that the camera is less important on this device.

On the software side Symbian continues to play catch up with iOS and Android, However Symbian is still a very advanced mobile operating system and I appreciate it's quick access to the Alarm which its not available on most other platforms.

The other issue I faced during the review was the small touch-screen. This was only evident in games which we are generally feel the bigger the screen the better the experience. Accessing the controls on games like Angry Birds seams nearly impossible on such a small screen but the high resolution makes everything which is displayed crystal clear.

Official Nokia E6 Photos

Official Nokia E6 video

Now that we have established an idea of what we can expect from the Nokia E6 lets take a closer look at the hardware.


Unboxing and Hands On



The E6 comes in a retail box which is a little larger than what we have started to expect from modern day smartphones.


The contents include a standard Nokia charger, MicroUSB cable for syncing and charging and a 3.5mm headphone.




Device Close up - Hardware

The E6 as part of E-Series family continues the tradition of premium materials and build quality. Our sample device which is white has a silver stainless steel band around it's frame and running around the D Pad. The rear also has a metal plate which protects the battery and SIM card. 

The top of the phone houses the microSD card slot which has a protective plastic cover,the 3.5mm connector and the power button. A short press on the power button presents a menu to switch audio profiles or lock and switch off your device.


The front is made up of several sections. The top section has the earpiece, front facing camera, ambient light sensor and proximity sensor. The Nokia and E6 logos generally stand out but sometimes fade into the white background.


Under that is the 2.64-inch capacitive touchscreen which has a VGA (640x480) resolution. This is double the resolution of the E72 which is quite noticeable in the display's crisp and clear quality. By packing in a high resolution on a small display, the E6 has a pixel density of 326ppi which is almost as much as the Retina Display on the iPhone 4.


The touchscreen is quite responsive but turns out to be a problem when you have to deal with small menus which seam to have shrunk on the E6. However the D Pad plays a part here and helps you get past those pesky menus which are too small to click with your fingers.


The D Pad sits just below the display flanked by messaging and contacts keys on its right and home and calendar keys on it's left. The call receive and end keys are also on either side of the D-Pad.

Next is the QWERTY keyboard which follows the design and layout of the Nokia E5 and Nokia C3. The keys are well spaced and quite easy to use, but I personally prefer the physical keyboard on the Nokia E7 which is much better suited size for someone like me.

Under the keyboard is the microphone pinhole and at the bottom of the phone is the Nokia charging port.

microphone

charging port
The right side of the device features the volume up and volume down buttons with a dedicated key in between them for activating voice commands (short press) or to record audio (long press). The right side also hosts the lock switch which switches the display on or off.



If you hold the slider down for a couple of seconds switches on the dual-LED flash to be used as a flashlight



The left side of the device features the microUSB port which is also protected by a plastic cover. The port can be used for charging, syncing or connecting your USB devices to use the USB on-the-go feature. There is an indicator light next to the port which lights up when the device is being charged.


The back of the device features the speaker grill, dual-LED flash and the 8 megapixel fixed focus camera


Below the camera is a stainless steel plate which protects the 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery. Removing the battery reveals the SIM tray which stays hidden away. The battery boasts 15 hours of talk time and should last around 2 days of regular use.


The result of putting all this hardware together brings us the Nokia E6. Nokia undoubtedly makes great hardware, and we may see a new breed of E-Series spawn into the Windows Phone family someday. The E6 however runs Symbian OS which offers a great user experience itself. So lets now take a look at the guts that is Symbian Anna which makes the E6 tick.

Calls

The Nokia E6 does a good job of what it's meant to do, which is taking calls. The audio and call quality is quite exceptional. You can use the ample loudspeaker or the stereo headphones while you drive


Camera

The Nokia E6 comes with an 8 megapixel camera (3264 x 2448 pixels) with dual-LED flash. Unfortunately you are once again stuck with a fixed focus module. The fixed focus makes it very hard to capture close up pictures which turn out quite blurry.

You can access the camera only through the camera app as there is no dedicated camera button on the E6. 

The user interface is simple with three buttons and the zoom indicated on either side. There is a button to switch to video capture and another to switch the flash on and off. The third button allows you to change various other settings (Scene Mode, ISO, Exposure, Color etc.) for your photos.

You can also choose to store your location information on your photos thanks to the geo-tagging feature. The photo quality is as good as you can expect on an E-Series device.

The photos are reasonably good, but they could have been better. Check out some of our sample below.




Videos on the E6 are captured at 720p HD (25fps). The outcome is of quite good quality as you can see for yourself in the following sample video



Device Close up - Software

The Nokia E6 along with the Nokia X7 which we recently reviewed were the first devices to feature Symbian Anna. The 'Anna' update mainly changes the visual elements of Symbian^3 by introducing a new set of icons along with some added features. You can read all about Symbian Anna and the devices it is available for here.

When you first boot up your E6 you are presented with a collection of four homescreen.



Each homescreen can be customized with a wallpaper and widgets. The date and time along with the profile widgets remain through all the homescreens and cannot be removed.

You can change the wallpapers by selecting 'Options' on the homescreen you are on and change widgets with a long-press on the display and pressing the + symbol. You can select from the group of widgets or download new widgets from the Nokia - Ovi Store.


Clicking the top right side of your device will allow you to view acitve connection or available Wi-Fi access points.



Clicking the time widget will take you into the clock application. From here you can set your alarm, adjust your time and date, and have a collection of world clocks to view and compare.


You will be taken to the main menu by clicking the Menu button on your homescreen or pressing the physical 'Home' key. From here you can access all the applications on your device.
  • Calendar- The Calendar app is the first app on the menu and an important one for any business class user. The calendar is dived into five views which you can access by clicking 'Options' and selecting 'Change View'. The default is the month view and you can see all your day's appointments in the split screen view. Clicking under your appointments allows you to add in a new entry.



  • Contacts- Next is the Contacts app which stores all your contacts information. Each contact is separated into two tabs. One tab will have a summary with access to that contacts Social Networks, Calling and Texting numbers, and e-Mail. The rest of the detailed information is stored in the second tab.Social networking integrates your contact's Facebook and Twitter information and you can follow their status updates directly from within the Contacts app. Each contact can also be mapped geologically through their address which can be very useful.Searching through your contacts is quite easy, all you have to do is start typing the name on your keyboard and you can quickly filter through to the person you want to call. You can mark your regular contacts as favourites and they will be moved to the top of the list for easy access.



  • Music- The music application is next and is broken down into Music Player, Radio and Ovi Music.
    • Music Player- Your music is stored and presented in a cover flow mode similar to the iPhone. You can scroll using your D-Pad or flick through on the touch screen. Your music is organized by album, genre or artist and you can take advantage of the five equaliser presets based on your choice or mood.The music app can be minimised and controlled from the music widget on your homescreen.


              
    • Radio- The radio requires your headphones to be connected and uses it as it's antenna. You will be asked to select your region on first launch and you can scan and save your favorite stations.

               
    • Ovi Music - We unfortunately could not text the Ovi Music service, as it is not available in the U.S. You can learn more about Ovi Music here.
  • Messaging- The messaging app is pretty much what you are used to on Symbian devices. The messaging has a common inbox which can be sorted as conversations or as a threaded view.Messaging has one common editor which changes your message type based on your content. You can attach various file types to convert it into an MMS.The QWERTY keyboard plays a huge role in your messaging experience, showing you why the E Series is preferred by anyone who takes messaging seriously.


  • EMail- The email client on the E6 has support for multiple inboxes including GMail, Yahoo, Exchange and more. Messages can be sorted by data, sender, subject or priority and you can even send attachments or add your signature to an email.


  • Web- The Web browser on Symbian Anna is one of the most significant improvements in the Symbian update.  It features a refined minimal UI, with several performance improvements over it's predecessor.


    Other features include search engine integration into the address bar, improved tabs support and Flash Lite support for Adobe Flash videos



  • Photos- Next is the Photos app which stores all the photos on the device which can include those captured from your device camera or others you may have synced from your computer. You can tage and share your photos to your favorite social networks from within the photos app.

  • Maps- The Nokia Maps application which comes with all Nokia devices is one of the best alternates to Google Maps. It included voice guided navigation for both pedestrians and drivers. You can download your favourite maps right onto your device and browse them while you travel without the need of a data connection. The maps app support additional features like check in, weather etc.



  • Office - The E6 comes with the full version of QuickOffice Pro preinstalled. Documents saved in the Microsoft office 2007 docx, xlsx and pptx formats.


    The Office collection also includes the following apps.
    • Adobe Reader -You can view and edit your Word, Excel, PowerPoint documents and even view your PDF files.

    • Dictionary
    • Notes
    • Zip - allows you to browse and manage your compressed zip files
    • Calculator
    • Recorder - Voice recordings
    • Message Reader - Read your messages out loud
    • F-Secure - Included antivirus suite to protect your device from malicious files and attacks.
    • Communicator
  • Photo Editor - The image editor allows you to crop, resize, rotate, remove red-eyes and apply effects etc. to your captured photos. The interface is touch optimized but that may be a problem on the small display of the E6.


  • Video Editor - The video editor allows you to edit existing videos or make videos from your own photo and video collection. You can even create a video slide-show from your photos.

  • Videos - The videos app is hidden away under the applications folder. The E6 comes with support for video formats like DivX and XVid out of the box. general MP4 and AVI files should not be a problem.

  • Social - The Nokia social app allows you to add your Facebook and Twitter accounts and follow your contacts news feeds. You can also add a homscreen widget to follow the feeds on your homescreen.

The fun with your Nokia E6 does not end with the preinstalled apps. You can expand your experience by download applications and games from the Nokia (Ovi) Store.


The app collection may not be as illustrious as the Apple iOS store or the Android Market but you can find a good selection of useful apps and games, including the popular Angry Birds.


Conclusion

The Nokia E6 picks up the reigns from the Nokia E72 as the new kid on the block and is a great combination of hardware and software. It sits on a three tiered throne taking second place with the Nokia E7 on top and the Nokia E5 sitting below it.

The E6 will get one more moment of glory as it welcomes the significant Symbian Belle update before it bows away to leave room for new things to come from Nokia's labs.

With Symbian end drawing near we may be seeing the last of the once great E-Series. We can only hope that Nokia's E-Series lives on in a new Windows Phone persona someday.

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