Having covered the Nokia 6131’s imaging capabilities let’s return to the design. With the clamshell closed there is a small button on the right side of the hinge. Press this in and the clam flicks open with a rather reassuring click. I like this, though I think it could do with a little refining - perhaps a smaller button would have been good.
Inside the clam the keypad is large and uncluttered. Enormous number keys, a big navigation pad, and large softmenu and Call and End keys are features every clamshell handset maker would do well to learn from (including Nokia itself if you refer back to the N71 review). The main screen is perhaps a little small at 2.2 diagonal inches, but its 320 x 240 pixels and 16 million colour support is particularly good for viewing multimedia content.
One thing I am not overly excited about is the fact that the 6131 runs Nokia’s S40 platform. This means it looks and feels rather different to other Nokia handset. There is an Active Standby mode for the main screen which you can set up to offer application shortcuts, or you can stick with a plainer home screen which itself offers six configurable quick-launches – four for the navigation pad plus the two softmenus. Hit the navigation pad’s central select button and the main menu screen opens.
Despite its somewhat rare Operating System the 6131 offers the kinds of things you’d expect from a modern, capable phone. These include diary and contact management, email support, and the ability to synchronise with a PC using the PC Suite software, though you get neither the software nor a cable for that last task in the box.
Java is supported and it is great to see an FM radio on board, though perhaps being told to ‘connect an enhancement’ when switching it on isn’t them most polite way to remind the user to attach the antenna-containing headset.
There is a music player here too and an equaliser with two user definable settings, as well as a voice recorder, countdown timer stopwatch and three games - Snake III, Soccer 3D and a version of Sudoku.
Oddly for a handset which is not particularly aimed at professional users there is also a utility to control PowerPoint presentations via the handset’s Bluetooth. You’ll need to download the PC component of this software if you want to use it, as that is not provided.
I started off rather liking the 6131 because of its hardware design, and then going off it because of its Nokia S40 operating system, which is rather rare in the UK. In the end, though, I have come back around to liking it again. As a mid-range handset the 6131 is functional yet practical, even if you do have to download software to synchronise it with a PC and buy a cable for the job too. If you are keen to try the mobile Web on an ad-hoc basis and want a Pay-As-You-Go phone, T-Mobile’s £1 a day fee is excellent value.