Nokia C6 review: A playful character

GSMArena team, 28 July 2010.
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Retail package

The retail box covers the essentials and leaves it at that. You have the charger plus a (short) data cable. The charger is absolutely tiny – a good thing since you’ll have to carry it when you travel, as the Nokia C6 doesn’t charge off USB.

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Nokia C6 retail package

The included headset is one-piece, so replacing the headphones while keeping the remote is not an option. There isn't a stylus included in the Nokia C6 retail package but we don’t miss that too much.

A 2GB microSD card is supplied, but keep in mind that unlike the Nokia N97 and N97 mini, the C6 doesn’t have much of a built-in memory. You can use a bigger microSD card to compensate, the C6 supports cards of up to 16GB.

Nokia C6 spins 360-degrees

The Nokia C6 is somewhere between the Nokia N97 and the N97 mini in terms of size. It’s got a 3.2” touchscreen just like the N97 mini and the front face dimensions are about equal, too.

However, the C6 stands at 113 x 53 x 16.8 mm and weighs a hefty 150 g. It’s quite a bit thicker than the mini (and heavier). That’s almost a full millimeter thicker too than the regular N97.

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Nokia C6 vs. the Motorola MILESTONE (DROID)

Unlike the N97 mini, the Nokia C6 has room on the keyboard for a D-pad (like the big N97). The downside here is that while the keys on both keyboards are about the same size, the ones on the C6 keyboard are cramped together.

We’ll discuss the keyboard in more detail later. For now, let’s just say that the Nokia C6 is on the chubby side of side-sliding QWERTY phones, but it’s not the chubbiest by far. For comparison purposes, the “petite” Sony Ericsson X10 mini pro is 17 mm thick and the Motorola MILESTONE weighs a hefty 165 grams.

Design and construction

It’s more than obvious the C6 is similar to the N97 in many ways. When closed however, it is a dead ringer for the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, the phone which very much set the overall look and feel for many of Nokia’s touch phones. Sliding it open is where the comparisons with the Nokia N97 duo begin.

And it should be where they end, at least regarding the keyboard itself. In many ways, it’s much closer to the Nokia E75 – no tilting display and a four-row QWERTY with no margin between the keys.

The C6 has a 3.2” resistive touchscreen of nHD resolution – the popular choice among Symbian phones. The 360 x 640 pixel resolution is quite right for that size, though obviously no match for the pixel-dense screens of high-end touch phones. The response of the resistive display is good enough, but not as good as capacitive displays are.

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The 3.2" display is pretty good

The sunlight legibility on the other hand is poor – taking the Nokia C6 outside on a sunny day means you’ll have to shield the display against bright sunlight if you want to see anything on the screen. That’s quite unlike Nokia N97.

Bellow the screen is the usual trio of green and red receiver keys and the menu key. The menu key is placed in the middle, like on the Nokia 5800. We liked the N97 solution better though of putting it on the side, skewed 45 degrees. That made the key equally easy to use in both portrait and landscape orientation. With the Nokia C6, you have to aim right between the call keys, but you’ll get used to it quickly.

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Three keys and a touchscreen

There’s a lot going on above the screen with a bunch of sensors placed around the earpiece at the center. The C6 has an ambient light and a proximity sensor, and a dedicated QVGA video-call camera.

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A couple of sensors, a video-call camera and the earpiece are on top

The controls on the sides of the Nokia C6 have a similar layout to that of the 5800 XpressMusic. On the right side, from top to bottom there’re the volume rocker, the lock/hold key and the shutter key. The left side features the protected microSD card slot.

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The sides of the Nokia C6

At the top of the Nokia C6 is the sealed microUSB port. Right next to it is the 3.5mm audio jack, which is left exposed. The bottom of Nokia C6 holds the 2mm charger plug, the mouthpiece and the lanyard eyelet.

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The audio jack and microUSB port on top • Charger plug, mic and lanyard eyelet the bottom

One important thing to note here is that the Nokia C6 doesn’t charge off USB – so, you’ll have to carry the charger (which is very compact, but still) when you travel.

The 5 megapixel camera lens is on the back of the Nokia C6, right next to the LED flash. Those aren't protected by anything, so you’ll have to take care not to scratch them. To the right of the camera we find the single loudspeaker (no stereo speakers here).

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The 5 megapixel camera and the LED flash are unprotected

Under the battery cover, there’s the SIM card compartment and a BL-4J battery rated at 1200mAh. It is the same capacity as the battery in the N97 mini and is quoted at 384 hours of standby (both 2G and 3G) and up to 7 hours (2G) or 5 hours (3G) of talk time.

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The 1200 mAh battery

The Nokia C6 rear cover has a small latch that makes it very easy to open. The rear panel itself is quite wobbly however, which doesn’t make a very good impression.

The badly fitting battery cover aside, the build quality of the Nokia C6 is satisfactory. The matte plastic on the back is nice to the touch and, more importantly, fingerprint resistant. The front, with the touchscreen and all, will inevitably gather smudges, but that’s par for the course these days.

The QWERTY keyboard left a positive impression as did the smooth, spring-assisted slider. There’s an option to lock the phone when you close the slider, but you can’t set it to launch an app (say, the SMS composer) when you open it.

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The Nokia C6 held in hand

Handling the Nokia C6 isn’t a problem – the phone allows comfortable one-handed operation and the weight balance is good. Its thickness is a bit of problem for pocketability though.

Comfortable QWERTY keyboard

So far the C6 basically sounds like a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic with a better camera. The major feature that the Nokia C6 has over its older cousin, however, is the QWERTY keyboard. The screen doesn’t tilt like it did on the N97 duo, but you can still comfortably hold the keyboard and look at the screen head on.

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Opening the Nokia C6 – no tilting action here

The keyboard is comparable to the one on the Motorola MILESTONE (or DROID in the US) – and that’s quite a compliment. The keys are about the same size, but not as flat and with good feedback, making the keyboard very comfortable to use. The top row is somewhat cramped against the top half of the slider though.

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The keyboard is pretty comfy and with good illumination • C6 vs. MILESTONE

The four-row QWERTY on the Nokia C6 has more keys and fewer symbols per key compared to the three-row keyboard of the N97, so occasions where you need to use the function key are rarer.

The backlighting of the keyboard is strong and quite even, so you won’t have problems using it in the dark.

The keyboard is accompanied by a D-pad – it’s on the right side this time rather than the left like it was on the N97. The Nokia N97 mini omitted the D-pad to leave more room for the rest of the keyboard. On the other hand, the wider borders between the keys on the N97 mini improved the typing experience.

We compared the C6 to the Nokia E75, another keyboard we quite liked. The two keyboards are very similar, however the keys on the C6 are smaller – because of the D-pad.

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