Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nokia X6 16 GB - 04

We know that The Indian Geek has had an exaggerated Android focus this week, but for all you Nokia fans out there we decided to publish this long-stewed full review of the Nokia X6 16 GB. We’ve actually seen the Nokia X6 16 GB in action over the past several months (since July 2010, in fact) and there have been several impressive factors about the phone. If you’re wondering why we’re reviewing this phone now - it is still available in the market, and we know many who would purchase this phone “just because” it is a Nokia smartphone. We also wanted to take a look at the Symbian ^1 Operating System, in comparison with its current competition. We’ve already seen and played with Symbian ^3 and felt that it was passable as a mobile phone Operating System, but what about Symbian ^1 which runs on phones such as the 5230, 5233, 5235, X6-00, C6-00, C5-03? We decided to take a good, hard look at the Nokia X6 16 GB in one of our “Full review” sessions. So we did. Was the phone excellent? In some departments, yes. Was it also disappointing? Yes. For more details, there’s that “Read more” button below, awaiting just a click (or tap).

Note: We’ve toned down our usual lengthy sections to focus more on the software side of things - as this phone has been out for some time, and our main objective was to look at the software - Symbian ^1.

Hardware

Nokia X6 16 GB - 13

Nokia has a long history of putting together smartphones with great hardware, and that legacy continues with the X6. The overall feel is plasticky, yet solid. The X6 does have an angular design that you really can’t understand from photos or images. You need to actually hold one in your hand to fully understand how this phone looks. Overall, we would say that it looks good, but a bit on the outdated and bulky side, when compared to other modern smartphones (even when comparing it to phones release at around the same time). The plastics used feel quite premium-quality, far better than the plastics we’ve encountered in the Android phones that we have reviewed. Of course, the X6 can’t beat the N8 in the hardware or the looks department, but that’s just fine when you look at the time gap between the release of the two phones, and the price difference. The two serve different market segments.

Nokia X6 16 GB - 06 Nokia X6 16 GB - 08 Nokia X6 16 GB - 09 Nokia X6 16 GB - 10 Nokia X6 16 GB - 11

Nokia X6 16 GB - 12 Nokia X6 16 GB - 14 Nokia X6 16 GB - 15 Nokia X6 16 GB - 16

Software

Nokia X6 16 GB - 05

Sadly, we can’t say the same about the software. Nokia has by now become (almost) notorious in the tech world for having smartphone software that is generations behind its competitors, such as Apple, Google, HP/Palm, Microsoft and RIM (who make Blackberrys). Symbian ^1 (the OS formerly known as Series 60 v5), which looks like the non-touch version of Series 60 (Series 60 v3), looks like Series 60. The base problem here is, Nokia took the non-touch version of Symbian (Series 60 v3) and slapped on a touch layer atop it, back in 2008 when it released the 5800 XpressMusic (the first Nokia touchscreen phone). While it sold well, it was riddled with several software- and firmware-related issues. Basically, it was a horrible touchscreen mobile OS. Fast-forward to 2010, and you have the X6 16 GB running a well-updated version of the same mobile Operating System. If you’re wondering what kind of issues we are talking about - let’s take the question of tapping to select menu-items. Do you single-tap or double-tap? We thought we had figured it out, but no, the phone suddenly decides to require a double-tap, when previously a single-tap was sufficient. It is extremely frustrating to double-tap a folder, only to realise that the first tap opened the folder and the second tap opened an application within the folder. So the next time around, we’d be extremely careful in single-tapping the folder, only to be waiting around for nothing. We’d then realise the error and double-tap. What adds to the confusion, is that the OS takes several seconds to register and act upon each tap. So you don’t know if the first tap was registered and the OS is acting in the background, or if the OS didn’t register your tap at all. It’s very difficult to use. We shot a basic run-through of the menu interface and a little bit of Maps action in Google Maps on the phone. The video below should explain it all. (Note: Google Maps is being used with a 3G connection for Maps access)

We should, however, note that the speed of operation of the OS could depend on the large number of Apps that had been installed on the phone. But hey - if Nokia plans to deliver a 16 GB built-in storage device, and expect us not to install Apps on it - we’re sorry, that’s something we cannot accept in today’s App-crazy smartphone market. It is also worth mentioning that these issues were prevalent with no other Apps running in the background, and even after we had just rebooted the phone. Speaking of Apps, Symbian has worldwide developer support with the capability of running Java apps. We’ve got hacked versions of touchscreen Java apps meant for 400x240 resolution-devices running quite smoothly on the phone. There are Apps to do almost anything. They don’t usually have the spit and polish of the Apps found in Apple’s iOS App Store or Google’s Android Market, but you can do almost anything with the phone. SPB even has an app to provide a completely different homescreen interface shell; we tried it out a bit. It’s good. Something that we almost forgot to report on, is that the phone comes pre-installed with a mobile version of EA’s Spore. If you like to spend hours on gaming, then yes, this is a good addition. We shot a very quick video of it in action. Check it out below.

However, we also experienced the issue of the phone restarting itself a tad too often - something we’ve seen quite frequently on the smartphones of this generation of Nokia’s Symbian^1 devices. The 5230, 5233, 5235 and the X6 16 GB - all suffer from constant restarts. A couple of things that helped this specific issue was to clear the RAM, keep as much free space as possible in the phone’s built-in storage (the 16 GB of the X6 is split into a tiny amount for “on-phone” storage, and the rest is accessed quite like an integrated memory card), and to update to Nokia’s latest firmware version for the phone. We’ve actually found these three steps to help any phone struggling along on Nokia’s Symbian ^1 Operating System. The issues are minimized - but they’re all still there. The phone was heavily slowed down after installing some apps which were a mix of Java apps and native Symbian apps. The constant restarts remained. At its worst, we counted 5 restarts within the space of a single 20 hour-period. If you have gone through these same experiences of ours, you would be able to clearly understand why Nokia’s CEO felt that partnering with Microsoft was the only option. Another video showing couple of the issues we experienced is below (Hey, we didn’t shoot the videos to showcase the issues – they were recorded while attempting to shoot a demo of Angry Birds on the phone)

Camera

Nokia X6 16 GB - 19

If you know of Nokia’s reputation in making excellent cameras, then you will be unfazed to learn that the X6 16 GB carries on with that tradition. The camera quality is above-par any other phone we have used in this price range. It shocks us that many other phone manufacturers tout 5 MP Autofocus cameras that can’t even come close the quality that the X6 16 GB offers. If we had this phone with us, we would happily leave our point-and-shoot digital camera at home and head out for all those light-moment snaps. Maybe for a high-profile function/gathering, we would want to bring along a full-fledged camera.

The camera can take some amazing macro shots too. It has the requisite flash, effects, and other adjustments that can help you tweak your photos just a bit to give slightly better output quality. We have to say this - full points to Nokia for the camera on the X6 16 GB.

Music

If you want to get really technical, then the X6 16 GB is a music-oriented phone. It is a carryover of Nokia’s XpressMusic brand from previous generations. We have to say, that the X6 16 GB did not disappoint when it came to music. Music playback was good, and the included headphones are premium-quality; stuff that is better than what is included in most other phones in the market. The built-in stereo speakers are good quality too, providing loud enough sound to have the X6 16 GB playing music on your desk while you work (provided you’re in a quite environment).

We did have a few nagging issues though. The Ovi Music Unlimited (Remember those “Become a music millionaire” Ads?) subscription is fairly simple and easy to use. However, there are times when downloading from the Ovi Music store is extremely slow and other times when it just doesn’t happen at all. We were at a loss as to why. We can’t really slight Nokia for this too much - after all, Nokia is giving away unlimited music tracks for free for a year. It’s a great feature, and one of the selling points of the phone. It’s just that we would have liked the whole experience to have been a bit more polished. The other nagging factor was the 3.5 mm headset that Nokia uses (what they call the A/V jack or port). From our own amateur tests, it seems that Apple and most other phone manufacturers make their headsets according to one design, and Nokia uses another. You won’t have any problems if you try connecting a simple pair of headphones to the port; the issues arise if you try to use Nokia’s provided A/V 3.5 mm premium headset (with the headphones + mic) with another phone’s 3.5 mm headset port - you get a nice buzz. Headsets (with the headphones+mic) from other phone manufacturers don’t work with the X6 outright, either. Again, this is not something that’s a deal-breaker or anything for the X6 16 GB. We found this out during our review, and felt it was noteworthy.

Bluetooth/Wi-Fi/3G

Nokia X6 16 GB - 01

We are very happy to report that we had zero issues with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity on the X6 16 GB. You can do almost anything that you may require using the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functions. We were able to swap files, connect to the Internet, and other things to be expected. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about 3G connectivity. It was again a case of now it works, now it doesn’t. There were times when it didn’t work at all, even after restarting the X6 fully. Internet on the built-in web browser is good, but the speed is not spectacular. It’s just that we’re used to a very speedy connection on our Android phones, even when using EDGE. Why, Nokia’s own Symbian ^3 running N8 is much faster in web browsing.

Nokia X6 16 GB - 17

With respect to video calling, we found it to be a pleasure to use mostly. The video call quality - both audio and video - is quite acceptable. It was a little moody, but that was just once and we suspect it was due to network issues. The several times that we have attempted video calling from the X6 16 GB, we ended up feeling that it was worth the 5p/s (that’s Rs. 3/min) that Airtel bills us.

Final thoughts

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Being Indians (with an inherent love for Nokia devices), we began this review with a view to outline the salient features of this semi-premium offering from Nokia, while attempting to list out the issues with the phone’s software and encouraging our readers to purchase Nokia’s Symbian ^3 offerings. Sadly, our review of the Nokia X6 16 GB has thrown into stark reality the dire state that Nokia was really in, requiring it to enter that alliance with Microsoft. If you are thinking of buying a Nokia phone now, we would strongly suggest that you wait and see what the Finnish company is going to do with it’s new-found relationship with Microsoft before deciding. Nokia’s Windows Phone 7 devices are expected by the end of this year. If you simply must have a Nokia smartphone, we would highly recommend going in for a Symbian ^3-based handset instead of a Symbian ^1-based handset. The four that are currently available in India are the high-end E7 and N8, and the mid-range C7 and C6-01. They’ve all got good displays, and better hardware (CPU + RAM) than all other Symbian ^1-series phone. Or just get an Android phone.



Thanks to Esther Archana for her contributions to various portions of this review.

6 comments:

JonesSandy said...

Please Suggest any Andriod phone with following features:
1. Andriod 2.2 (or above)
2. slider QWERTY
3. Dual camers, with vedio calling.

coming soon one may be cosidered

Thanks,
Sandy

The Indian Geek said...

Hi JonesSandy,

Just in case you missed it - we replied to your comment here - http://disq.us/1ttqv9

Cheers!

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- dual sim
- latest android
- good battery life

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