Nokia’s latest model for the mid-range market looks to be a cut-priced N95. While it misses out on the larger screen and WiFi radio, it holds onto the 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera, HSDPA radio and built-in GPS, at around half the price of the N95. The recommened retail for the 6220 is $689, but as is often the way with these things it will likely be cheaper in-store. I’ve been using one as my main phone for the last week, and I am very impressed…almost.
Unlike the N95 the 6220c is a regular candy-bar phone, no funny business there. The display is a 2.2″ QVGA affair, with a fabulous 16 million colours for applications to choose from. It’s noticably smaller than the 2.8″ display I’ve become accustomed to on the N95 8GB, but it does look a lot nicer, thanks to it’s higher DPI. The resolution is the identical meaning the same amount information is displayed on screen, so it’s not much of an adjustment.
The 6220c feels quite small in the hand, largely thanks to it’s very slender profile. Unlike the N82, this is a sleek phone, and doesn’t look out of place in a jeans pocket. The whole phone is made of plastic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I did notice a few issues on my review unit. The keypad wasn’t clipped into the front of the phone properly (???), quickly sorted by giving it a good mashing, and the camera cover is rubbish, never opens properly. I’ve had two of these units now, and while the keyboard was fine on the second, the camera lens cover is still terrible.
It’s also very discrete, I’d actually say it’s a bit too discrete. I looks like a much cheaper phone than it is. Sure some people don’t want to show off, but it doesn’t look that great in a business meeting when you pull out what looks like a $99 pre-paid phone. It’s very smudgy too (I must appologise for the fingerprints all over the phone in the photos, it was impossible to clean). Nokia have a habit of this: making some really great, snazzy phones with excellent build quality, and then rummaging in the left over parts bin to make something sub-par (Nokia N73, I’m looking straight at you…).
The keypad is a nice size, with large buttons and a standard layout. They do have tacky-looking blue labels though, which seem out of place on a phone likely to be bought by business people. White would have looked a lot nicer against the black keys, but nevermind. At least the keys aren’t stupid little silver bars that are hard to press…
At the top of the face the phone speaker is flanked by a low-res video calling camera and a light sensor for auto-adjusting the display brightness.
The power button is on top of the phone, with the single loudspeaker below it. No stereo speakers here unforunately.
On the left side you’ll find a user-assignable shortcut key (default is the Nokia Maps application), with a blue indicator above to show if you have a GPS signal. Why, I’m not quite sure, just seems like another blue LED to annoy people to me. The microSD slot is there too behind a plastic door.
At the bottom you’ll find THREE plugs: a microUSB (pretty much standard on new Nokia’s now), a 2mm power jack and a 2.5mm headphone/headset jack. I want to berate the 2.5mm jack, but it’s better than some of the alternative plugs that could be used. I had a 2.5mm to 3.5mm laying around from my old N-Gage (yup, I owned one of those) and sound quality was excellent.
On the right side is the volume control and the camera button. Like other Nokia’s with good cameras, the button allows for a half-press to auto-focus.
Flipping over to the back, you will find Nokia’s frankly outstanding 5MP auto-focus camera with Carl Zeiss optics. Anything that says Carl Zeiss must be good, just sounds cool. The camera also has a proper xenon flash, to illuminate your photos like a real camera would.
The camera is just like the one on the N82, able to capture clear images during the day, and able to tough it out at night with the xenon flash. Puts the LED light on the N95 to shame.
The 6220c runs Nokia’s excellent Series 60v3 FP2 operating system. Over the past few months it’s been my mobile OS of choice and with my recent ventures back to Windows Mobile, I think I’ll be sticking around (especially since I just bought an awesome new S60v3 device, but that’s for another post…). It’s fast and it’s stable, simple as that. It’s also simple, so it can be used by complete phone novices right up to power users.
Nokia have added transitions to the interface, so that screens fade into view as opposed to just appearing. Personally, I don’t like it. It feels exactly what it is: tacked on. It also slows down the menus, as you wait for this fade transition to happen. It would be fine if it could be disabled, but I couldn’t find any option to do so.
Apart from that, it appears to be the same OS that Nokia have been using for quite a while. All the standard applications are there including Quickoffice for Word, Excel, PowerPoint documents, and Adobe PDF Reader. The latest version of Nokia’s excellent browser makes web surfing over HSDPA a breeze, with excellent rendering and page layout adjustment. Even so, one of the first things I loaded onto the phone (and indeed every phone I use) is the Opera Mini browser. Using a combo of the two makes for a perfect mobile browsing experience. Opera Mini makes regular page browsing super fast and easy on bandwidth (I’m on a limited data allowance per month), while the Nokia browser takes care of the heavy lifting like flash and Java pages.
Loading up Mail for Exchange (free from Nokia), I was quickly in business with all my calendar, contacts and emails synced up ready to go. Emails arrived instantly over HSDPA with this setup. Sending emails isn’t so great, since you have to make do with the T9 text input, but if you want to do that (and I do), you’ll be very interested in my E71 review (coming soon!).
Speaking of HSDPA, signal is fanastic, as you’d expect from a Nokia. Data speeds were swift, and calls were loud and clear. The 6220c is packed with all but one of the major radios: HSDPA, Bluetooth, GPS and FM. WiFi is noticably absent from that list, but that isn’t surprising considering the lower price point of this phone. It’s not a problem if you have a data plan and HSDPA coverage, but if you don’t your out of luck for internet/email.
I was all ready to praise the 6220c, since it does pretty much everything that my N95 8GB did, but for half the price and half the size, but there is one crucial area where it falls down: battery life. Using the 6220c the same way I use my N95 8GB, I wasn’t even able to get a day out of it. I take my phone off charge at 7am when I leave for work, and some days it was dead in my pocket by 6pm. It brings back bad memories of my battery experiences with the original N95. I honestly thought it must be broken. I’d received a defective phone or a defective battery. Alas the replacement Nokia sent out (with great expediency) has the same flaw.
Apart from the battery life, I really like this phone. It has almost all of the features of Nokia’s more expensive handsets, packaged in a slim, compact package. If they can release a firmware update or something then this will be a great phone, but until then owners better have a charger handy, or they are going to see a black screen before the end of the day.
What I Like: Features, excellent camera, bright screen, size
What Needs Improvement: Build quality a bit iffy, battery life is poor, wouldn’t mind another $100 dropping off the RRP.