Nokia C6-01 review: Clear as black

GSMArena team, 17 November 2010.
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The fixed focus cripples all the 8 megapixels

The Nokia C6-01 is equipped with an 8 megapixel camera for a maximum image resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. Unfortunately the C6-01 camera is also fixed-focus, just like the C7. Again, there’s a dual LED flash.

We already know that high resolution and fixed-focus is a combo that doesn’t seem to make much sense. The produced images turned out as bad as we expected. On top of that, the camera interface is still far from user-friendly.

There are only three shortcuts available in the viewfinder. Those allow you to toggle camcorder and still camera, set the flash and access the rest of the customizable settings.

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Nokia C6-01 Nokia C6-01
The C6-01 camera user interface

It would have made much more sense if some of those settings were brought on the sides of the viewfinder too as it would have saved us a few clicks, but Nokia engineers didn't think so. Not to mention that the extra camera settings are the only part of the interface where you can still “enjoy” the single-tap-double-tap routine that plagued the previous version of the Symbian touch interface.

On the other hand, the basic functionality is mostly there. On the C6-01 you’re in charge of white balance, color tone, exposure, ISO, contrast and sharpness. You can also go for one of the preset scene modes and there is an option for creating a custom scene.

Face detection is also available on the Nokia C6-01. As for geo-tagging, it lets you record your current location in the EXIF information of the photos, using the built-in GPS.

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Nokia C6-01 Nokia C6-01 Nokia C6-01
Nokia C6-01 camera samples

As for the image quality, it turned out exactly what we’ve expected. The aggressive noise reduction smudges fine detail, but there is still plenty of noise. On top of that, there’s that greenish tint in the upper half of the images which somehow gradates into pink tint in the lower half. It’s most easily visible on the chart photos below.

However the major missing feature – autofocus – becomes apparent when you try taking a close-up shot. Anything closer than 50cm is a no-go and to give you a perspective, to fill the frame with a standard A4 sheet you need to get as close as 30cm.

In fact due to the strong noise reduction smaller text fonts are hardly legible even when the text is in focus, so making nice shots of documents and leaflets is a challenge.

Theoretically, the 8 megapixel sensor allows you to shoot from further way and then crop (or zoom in) to see the details you're interested in. You can't do that with a 3 megapixel fixed focus camera. But the heavy noise reduction on the C6-01 is harsh on the fine details (such as fine print) so it's still not up to the task.

Photo quality comparison

This is one of the first reviews in which we'll offer you the benefit of our latest Photo Compare Tool. You can see how the Nokia C6-01 image quality compares to that of some of the other handsets we have reviewed. Clicking any of the following three images will take you to our dedicated page for some pixel-peeping pleasure.

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Nokia C6-01 compared to Nokia C7 and Nokia N8

Very good HD camcorder

The Nokia C6-01 shoots in 720p resolution at 25 fps and offers digital image stabilization. Clips are stored as MP4 files. Since the Nokia C7 did good with the camcorder we expected nothing more but the same. Fortunately the video quality is again a lot better than the image one.

The videos shot with the Nokia C6-01 managed to impress us. The amount of resolved detail is good enough, colors look nice, noise levels are kept reasonably low. They are perhaps even better than those produced by the XPERIA X10 after it got its HD-touting 2.1 update.

The price of the lower compression affects the file size – 10 seconds of video take about 16 MB.

The video-recording capabilities of the C6-01 make up big time for the poor still imaging. Plus you get the smart digital zoom of the N8, which is actually pretty impressive for a handset in this price range.

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Nokia C6-01 Nokia C6-01
Video recorder interface

Here’s a video sample from the Nokia C6-01 – 720p@25fps.

Video quality comparison

The Nokia C6-01 was also included in our Video Compare Tool database. Check it out – the tool’s page includes a quick walkthrough on how to use it and what to look for.

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Nokia C6-01 in the Video Compare Tool

And here’s a 720p video sample from our new test setup. Pay attention to the second half of the video where we lower the light to show you how the the camcorder performs in more challenging conditions.

Connectivity

Nokia C6-01 offers all kinds of network connectivity options - GPRS, EDGE and 3G with HSPA (10.2 Mbps HSDPA and 2.0 Mbps HSUPA). The GSM/EDGE networking comes in quad-band flavor and there are two different options for the 3G radio. The European C6-01 will come with quad-band 3G (900/1700/1900/2100 MHz), while the American and Asian version covers all the five bands available worldwide – 850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz.

USB is version 2.0, with the standard microUSB port capable of charging the phones besides transferring data.

We already covered the USB on-the-go functionality, but just for the record, we had almost 100% success of connecting USB flash drives and other Nokia phones, but that’s about it. The Nokia C6-01 didn’t connect to card readers and phones by other makers. Unlike the N8, though, the C6-01 doesn’t come along with an USB on-the-go adapter.

Bluetooth connectivity is version 3.0 with stereo support and there's a WirelessN-enabled Wi-Fi radio.

The microSD card slot can be used for transferring data to and from your C6-01 and it’s hot-swappable. Also both the memory card and the internal memory are accessible when you connect the handset to a computer in Mass storage mode.

For the record, the Nokia C6-01 lacks the microHDMI port, found on the N8.

Web browser needs lots of tweaking

Unfortunately, Symbian^3 didn’t deliver the browser overhaul that the platform needs desperately. Despite the added multi-touch and FlashLite 4.0 support, the C6-01 can just watch helplessly as the Android Froyo speeds away.

Update, 24.08.2011: We installed Symbian Anna - check out our impressions of the new web browser over here.

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The Symbian^3 web browser is functional but its UI needs polishing

Starting with the good things, the Nokia C6-01 browser has good page rendering and offers some nice features such as different font sizes (5 options), auto fill-in of web forms and a password manager.

The Flash Lite 4.0 support is enough for playing Flash videos, but it’s not quite as impressive a performer as the desktop-grade Adobe Flash 10.1 for Android Froyo. You can also choose to switch Flash off to cut down on loading times and save some data traffic.

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Going landscape • the context menu

The Find-on-page feature enables keyword search. The visual history is a nice bonus that can help you find a page you've visited more easily. There's also a popup blocker.

The web browser won’t let you open a new tab unless you hit a pop-up link. We'd have really preferred to see an option to open links in a new window.

Double tapping on a chunk of text zooms it in on screen, but again, the text doesn't auto fit to the smaller viewport and you still need to scroll sideways.

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Digging deeper into the settings menu

One of the worst parts of the C6-01 web browser is entering a web address, which can take up to four steps, while most competing platforms do it with one – hell, some even do it with voice commands.

So, generally speaking, the Symbian^3 browser is hardly a better copy of its S60 predecessor and that’s certainly to the C6-01 detriment. Internet browsing has never been more popular and until Nokia did something about the usability of their browser, their smartphones will be getting quite a lot of stick for it. Sure, we’ve heard Nokia has plans to update it on all Symbian ^3 devices in the future. We’re yet to see how it goes then.

For now, if we could give you an advice here, we’d say get the latest Opera Mobile up and running on you C6-01 and use the default browser only when you need to access Flash content. The hassle of using two apps for the same purpose is still better than having to deal with the S^3 web browser shortcomings.

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