Nokia 6120 classic review: Down-to-earth Symbian

Jaroslav Skrabalek, 31 August 2007. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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Keypad for SMS lovers

The market success of most phones often depends on their keypad. The one in Nokia 6120 is fast and easy to use. Its keys are made of hard plastic; they feature good elevation and precise response, making mistypes a rarity.

Users with larger fingers may be let down by the D-pad. The bulging edges of the keys however are a sort of compensation. The Navi scroll key is remarkably pleasing. Unlike other Symbian Nokia models, the Nokia 6120 lacks a "pencil" key. The "smartness" of the phone is only indicated by the Menu key with the Symbian pictogram.

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Better D-pad layout and denser backlighting would have benefited Nokia 6120 even more.

The keys on the right side of the handset show remarkable rigidity and are thus less comfortable to use than the rest. Keypad backlighting is white and even. The Navi scroll key is not directly illuminated, but is still usable enough thanks to the sufficient lighting around it.

Master of displays, as always

Some readers may disagree, but I dare say that all phone manufacturers should learn from Nokia how to make displays. Nokia uses reflexive surfaces, which enormously improve display legibility under all possible conditions and, above all, in direct sunlight. Having long been used in PDA, reflexive and trans-reflexive folios are no news. In fact, Motorola used to have them in its earlier models. The question is why manufacturers stopped using those folios, or more precisely, why is it only Nokia that uses them.

Nokia 6120 classic has an active TFT display with QVGA resolution of 320x240 pixels, totaling 16.7 million colors on a 2" diagonal. Legibility is brilliant. Backlighting is even, animation is fine, and pixels are almost invisible. Color saturation and contrast are great too.

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Brightness is adjustable in 30 steps from the menu, but satisfactory results are achieved even in the first third of the scale. As usual in S60, you can opt between three font sizes, control the power saving and light timeout, as well as set welcome note or logo.

The screensaver mode is where we came across an unpleasant surprise. The typical bar with time and date, and notifications would just turn off after a few moments. The user is thus unaware about, say, incoming messages. We find that hard to believe given the high level of the phone.

Classic Symbian and Series 60

Nokia 6120 classic is a Series 60 3rd Edition phone running on the latest Symbian 9.2 OS. The same OS is present in other Nokia models like N95, N76, or 6110 Navigator. If you're not new to the Series 60 smartphones, you'll feel comfortable with 6120 classic. The consistently intuitive control is a strong advantage.

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Several views of the Series 60 3rd Edition user interface in different color themes (Tiphone and Vista2 were additionally installed)

The phone is powered by a 369 MHz ARM processor. Applications are assigned approximately 20 MB of RAM. The system is fast and amazingly responsive. The 6120 Classic feels lightning fast compared to other Nokia models. The 6680 or the newer and widely popular N73 would sometimes make you wait before they run an application (the Message Editor, for example).

Status details appearing on the display are the usual stuff: battery status and signal strength, including connection availability (GPRS, EDGE or 3G) are on both ends at the top. In-between are the operator logo, and a digital or analog clock. Date displays in Normal profile, else you get the name of the currently active other profile.

Also available is the active stand-by - a popular feature of smartphones, which is now to be found even in the lowlier Series 40 phones. The active stand-by in Nokia 6120 consists of 6 user-defined shortcuts allowing instant access to frequently used applications. The space beneath the active-standby icons is reserved for displaying calendar events and tasks, message or call notifications, the name of the track or radio station currently playing. The active stand-by mode can be turned off. Alternatively, you can assign a shortcut to each of the four ways of the navigation key. The last thing to note about the display is the context keys, which can also serve as shortcuts. You can choose between 90 functions and locations within the menu.

The main menu can be displayed as a grid of 4 x 3 icons (to us, the best option) and as a list. Horseshow and V-shape views are also available, though their usability is doubtful. The distribution of icons is user-configurable, as well as their location in different menu levels. Intuitive access is enabled, as always, with alphanumeric keys serving as shortcuts, each corresponding to an icon within the grid. Minimized but still active applications have their icons signposted by a blue mark. Active applications are recalled by pressing and holding the Menu key, and are closed by pressing the Clear key.

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The menu can be displayed as a grid, list, horseshoe or V-shape

We were testing a Vodafone-locked handset, which had 5 color schemes. Additional themes can be downloaded from the Internet or obtained via Bluetooth or data cable. Voice control is one of the most helpful options in new Symbian smartphones and Nokia 6120, being no exception, features it too. Voice control works in a simple way: choose from the provided list the application you want to access by a voice command and forget about the rest. The phone configures the voice settings on its own; all you need to do is press and hold the right context key and say the name of the desired application. You'll encounter very little problems with command recognition.

Calls wherever

6120 Classic has quad-band GSM support and dual-band UMTS/HSDPA (2100MHz and 850MHz). If you call another 3G handset, you could try the front QVGA camera for video calls.

Nokia 6120 will not display simultaneously the contacts from the phonebook and the SIM. The number of phonebook entries is practically unlimited, only depending on free memory. There's an unusually wide range of assignable fields for each contact, including PushToTalk and internet telephone. The phonebook is searchable by gradual typing. Contacts can be organized in groups, assigned a ringtone and speed dial.

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Great choice of fields for each contact; contact group; list of ringing profiles

Nokia 6120's doesn't support 3-D tones, as opposed to some of the other Finnish smartphones. The phone still offers an extensive array of profile setup options. Standard calls can be set apart from video calls by ringtone. Audio quality during calling is very good. The voice in the earpiece is clear and balanced. The opposite party expressed no concerns about microphone quality, either.

Messaging

Compared to older Symbian devices, the Messages menu brings no novelties. All messages are managed by one and the same editor. Additional options vary according to the type of message you're composing. There are three font size options to choose from; predictive input goes without saying. Nokia 6120 classic will read out your messages provided they are typed in English. The character counter displays the number remaining for the chunk of text to be sent as a stand-alone message. The number in brackets refers to the count of chunks in a multipart message. The hash key has some of the capabilities of a pencil, which in Nokia 6120 Classic is missing.

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Adding an image as you type automatically switches the SMS editor to MMS; sending a voice message

The phone has an email client, which works with SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4 protocols. It manages several accounts simultaneously and supports attachments. Naturally, it can be configured to download either headers only, or entire messages, as well as to automatically check mail. The built-in Setup Guide will help you configure the email client. PushToTalk and message delivery notifications are here, too.

Storage space for messages is only limited by the available memory, be it phone or card.

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