The last time I looked at a clamshell handset from Nokia I was not exactly bowled over by the design. The N71 was just too big and cumbersome for me. But this week I have decided to try another clamshell from Nokia, the 6131. This was sent to me by T-Mobile, keen to publicise the fact that its web’n’walk service has recently become available on some pay as go you go handsets.
The deal is that you buy your handset, £159.99 in this case, choose your pay as you go tariff, and then on top of that use the web’n’walk service to browse the Web. You will be charged no more than £1 a day, however much you browse. Info on T-Mobile’s pay as you go tariffs and fair use policy is here.
Anyone who has used Web’n’walk before won’t find any surprises here. Choosing the service from the handset menu options takes you to the Web’n’walk home screen, where you can enter a Web address, drop a search term into a Google search bar or choose from a number of preconfigured links that includes eBay, Amazon, National Rail travel information, BBC and the Guardian for news, and plenty more. It is a very easy way to get to grips with the mobile Web with a minimum of fuss.
The 6131 isn’t exclusive to T-Mobile though, so check out other operators. You can also get it direct from the Nokia shop for £199 in various colour combinations: black, red and silver, sand and silver, white and sliver.
There were two things I liked immediately about this handset before even opening the clam. It is quite small, thin and light (92 x 47 x 20mm, 90g) and it has a fairly large front screen (1.36in corner to corner, 128 x 160 pixels, 262,000 colours). The screen size and resolution are reasonable for Web browsing, as they are for viewing other screen space hungry content.
Other plus points became apparent very quickly. In standby mode the front display just shows the time, but pop the camera button on the right edge and it becomes a viewfinder. The 1.3 megapixel camera’s lens is front mounted, so the front display can be used to frame pictures of yourself. While you have the camera running open the clam and the main screen becomes the viewfinder. Pop the camera side button again, and your shot is taken.
This system makes it exceptionally easy to take pictures and as someone who can often only be bothered with using a cameraphone if it really is just as easy as pressing one button, I appreciate that a lot.
The camera has no flash or autofocus with zooming limited to a maximum of 8x digital. There is a little bit of shutter lag, though I have definitely seen worse.
Image quality is reasonable but I’d only want to use the camera for ‘shoot and dispose of’ snaps. Indoor shots were a little dark while outdoor ones were often over exposed. Among my test images, the flower has lost its vibrant purple and green tones (the shot was taken on a sunny autumn morning). Some of the brown tones on the cat picture are tending to pink and you can see the effect of the shutter lag on the blurred paw.
Images can be stored either in the internal memory, of which there is only about 11MB free, or on microSD cards. It is good that cards can be hot swapped but not so good that you have to remove the battery cover to do so, as the slot is hidden behind it on the left edge of the handset.