The Nokia C6 is the latest in a long line of modestly priced touchscreen smartphones with side-sliding keyboards from the Finnish company. Nokia doesn't have a particularly good track record when it comes to touchscreen smartphones, though, so can this model finally put Nokia back on the map?
Not being a flagship phone, it's no surprise that the C6 isn't the most glamorous, with its largely plastic exterior. Indeed the soft plastic screen looks particularly crummy thanks to its wobbly finish and propensity to pick up fingerprints. At least the slide mechanism is made from steel and feels strong.
That said, while it feels strong, due to a combination of the slippery matt surface of the back and the stiff slide mechanism, we found the phone slipped out of our hands every now and then, if we tried to open it one handed.
Adding to this rather mediocre first impression is the mess created by the large number of buttons, flaps, and sockets strewn around the phone's sides. For the most part this is simply down to them being poorly integrated into the design, with no symmetry or aesthetic appeal to their placement.
However, a couple are also completely superfluous. A headphone jack, microUSB socket, microSD slot, volume rocker, and camera button are all essentials, or at least very useful, but the proprietary charging socket and screen lock switch certainly aren't.
The proprietary charging socket is useful for the fact it charges quicker than over microUSB, but not so much that it's really needed. Moreover, you can't charge this phone at all over microUSB, which is downright ridiculous in this day and age. As for the screen lock switch, while it's a hangover from previous similar Nokia phones that some people may be used to, on this model its functions are replicated by other buttons and software gestures – press the middle button on the front then swipe left on the screen to unlock the phone and press the call end button then select screen lock to lock it.
Surprisingly, considering how otherwise mediocre the design and build of this phone seems to be, its keyboard is actually very good. The keys have a really nice light action, so it's easy to type at speed, and the layout, despite a few quirks, is generally easy to get on with. The addition of a directional pad (D-pad) is also very useful. The caveats are a lack of dedicated number keys, the bottom row of letters is shifted left, and the D-pad can sometimes interfere with the right-most keys. All told, though, it's easily good enough to suffice.
In the box you get Nokia's rather funky new charger that has a pop up earth connector that when stowed makes it only half the height of a normal plug, which is very useful for travelling. You also get a very short USB to microUSB cable (for connecting to your PC) and a basic headset, which includes an inline remote with a single button for answering calls and a microphone, and a clip. It's useful for making handsfree calls, but not much cop for listening to music.