Nokia 6681 review: Extra style

Marek Lutonský, 08 May 2005. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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Tags: Nokia

It looks good

My critical comments on Nokia 6630's design ran into a quite negative response from numerous readers. I did not like it and continue not to like it, even after having actively used the phone for about half a year. It is just a "snowman" and will stay such forever.

Nokia 6681. Click to zoom Nokia 6681. Click to zoom
Good design work from Nokia

Nokia 6681 is a step forwards in terms of design. It looks both elegant and simple. I had the chance to test its blue version, which catches the eye more than the silver or the white one, and I liked it a lot. The blue covers have a slight silver nuance; chromium elements decorate many parts of the phone. All vertical strips of the keys, the narrow lines on both sides of the display, the ribbons on the side parts of the phone and the tiny plates on the back cover are glossy.

262K colors: you will not see the difference

The display has the same size (35 × 41 mm) and resolution (176 × 208) as many other mobiles of Series 60. However, it is for the first time that Nokia offers a display supporting 262K colors. This detail will probably stands out during the advertisement campaign only for you have no chance to recognize the difference by just looking at the display. You will not make it even if you happen to simultaneously look at the same picture on the displays of both Nokia 6681 and 6630. I expect the 262K support to start being visible on displays of extremely high resolution.

Nokia 6681. Click to zoom Nokia 6681. Click to zoom
Display (as if) in daylight • View at the display at night

Except for this single remark, the display of the new Nokia model is very good. It is clear. It does not distort the picture a lot, even if you look at it from an angle. Compared to the 6630 model, the white color of Nokia 6681 is a bit yellowish - or I would better say the white of 6630 is much too "cold" and bluish. Just like in the forerunner, the uneven backlighting causes that patches appear in the top part of the display. They become visible right after you switch on the phone, then disappear.

The display saves the battery by going out a bit after the preset time (from 5 to 60 s) runs out. After a moment or so the backlighting goes out completely. The screensaver - a strip with the date and the clock - appears after a minute to half an hour from the last work with the keypad.

In the left corner of the phone there is a tiny transparent circle, which is in fact a sensor measuring the intensity of the rays that fall on the phone. It sends signals to the mobile, which then regulates the intensity of the backlighting of both display and keypad. I would not mind if it was possible to turn this function off. Unfortunately it is not. The unpredictable changes of the brightness of the display are thus sometimes rather annoying.

Nokia 6681. Click to zoom
Light sensor at the phone's left corner

Nokia has used graphic themes since it launched its 6600 model. The new model has only one. If you need more, you can always find some in internet, download them and install them into the device. However, due to a function, whose official name is Active standby mode and which I call Today for short - according to the other rival smartphones and PDA, not all themes suit Nokia 6681. The ones that are incompatible with the phone are, unfortunately, almost all those, which have wallpaper with a bit more pronounced element - the menu just covers it over. The problem is caused also by the fact that many themes do not count with written words being viewed on the stand-by display and thus select the wrong font color.


Different graphic themes; texts in the second picture are almost unreadable

Today screen at last

The Active standby mode function deserves a closer look and a detailed description. Nokia has finally inclined its ear to the critical comments claiming that in a mobile designed for work users would prefer to have a direct access to the list of the oncoming planned events rather than having a cute picture on the display. As a result, in the 6681 model - and let us hope in all future mobiles - right below the operator's name you will see the most urgent items in the calendar and the number of uncompleted tasks.


Active standby mode • a selected line with tasks

The display shows the events for the day only. Events planned for the following day appear only if the calendar for the day given is empty. The calendar is displayed in four lines; you can see maximum four events at a time, provided their content can fit into one line. Marking the block and confirming it gets you straight to the calendar or the task manager.


A tap sends you to the calendar

In the top part of the stand-by display there are 5 icons of quick-start programs. Unlike Windows Mobile for Smartphone, where the display shows the last used programs automatically, here it views the applications you have selected. You can choose among all standard applications and the ones you yourself have additionally installed. If you tend to use lighter graphic themes, you may find it difficult to make out where the cursor is, since the icons do not get highlighted enough when selected.


Setup of the Active standby mode • icons setup

The possibility to set a view at the most frequently used programs on the display does not extend the options for personalizing of the phone. For example, you lose the functions assigned to the four ways of the control button while using Today, for the button serves for switching between the items on the main display.

The Active stand-by mode is a very helpful application. It would have been nice if Nokia had designed it as an independent one. Given the fact, however, that the manufacturer has to sustain at least some differences between its models, I doubt Nokia will come to a resolution to make changes. It would have also been handy if the set of items placed on the main display could be possible to edit - just like in Windows Mobile.

If you do not like this function - let's say because the text blinks every now and then, you can easily deactivate it and place just a standard simple picture back on the display.


Main display without the Active standby mode

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