In the smartphone sector the two main platforms are Symbian and Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone.
Nokia has now made three generations of Symbian smartphones. Siemens is soon to release the SX1 and Sendo recently launched the Sendo X. In the Microsoft Smartphone camp, there is the Orange SPV E200 and the Motorola MPx200.
Nokia’s 6600 is the third smartphone based on the Series 60 Symbian platform and uses the second edition. It succeeds the 3650 with the circular keypad, which in turn replaced the 7650.
The first impression you get with the tri-band Nokia 6600 is a distinctly wide yet attractive two-tone handset that thankfully dispenses with the aforementioned round keypad. At 58.2mm, the 6600 is 9.5mm wider than the SPV E200, but that doesn’t detract from the usability of the Nokia which weighs in at a manageable 122g.
The keypad layout still has some idiosyncrasies that take a bit of getting used to. For instance, you are likely to overlook the power button positioned in a thin black rubber strip along the top.
Another design quirk is placing the menu key on the left hand side beneath the green call key. For such a commonly used key you would expect it to be placed centrally but even odder than that is the positioning of the two soft keys. These are conventionally placed directly beneath the screen, but on the 6600 they have been lowered. In practice this means that you find yourself futilely pressing the blank border under the screen where you expect the soft keys to be.
The five-way joystick has the stiffest action I’ve ever encountered; it works well enough but definitely lacks something in the ergonomic department.
Top marks go to Nokia for the large and bright high-resolution 2.1in TFT display that runs 65,000 colours at 176 x 208 pixels.
Themes play a big role in the 6600 display and Nokia now has a 22.6 MB zip file (download it here) to let you edit and create your own with the Series 60 Theme Studio. For anyone with the time or inclination to create personalised mobile graphic interfaces this is a dream solution. The 88 page pdf guide should help the inexperienced user.
On the back of the handset is a VGA 640 x 480 camera with a 2X digital zoom, night mode, and time delay settings. In Video mode you get about nine seconds of recording, now with an audio and zoom option. An embedded RealOne Player provides video streaming and playback. Specify in the settings panel whether to save to the 6MB internal phone memory or to the removable 32MB MMC card supplied.
To play your video clips on your desktop, install the 6600 PC suite and connect via Bluetooth. The suite has contacts and calendar backup, syncing and file transfer. Also bundled is the Nokia Multimedia Player that plays .3gp video files from the 6600 on the desktop.
While the Nokia 6600 is described as a smartphone for business users, both Word and Excel are lacking as standard features, but PowerPoint can be remotely controlled by the Nokia Wireless Presenter via Bluetooth on the 6600, but only after you’ve paid 39 euros for the software download. You can browse presentations and read speaker notes on the 6600 handset.
Other business benefits are that the XHTML browser supports secure email access via 128 bit SSL encryption and a mobile VPN, using permanent TCP/IP currently on O2 and Vodafone networks. A Nokia wallet application stores encrypted personal information. You can record calls or use it like a dictaphone.
Of special interest in the menu is a full version of the Opera 6.1 microbrowser which uses Small-Screen Rendering (SSR) technology to reformat Websites to fit on small screens. You can’t use a WAP gateway as your Internet access point with the Opera browser and will need to specify an 0845 ISP and your password.
A ‘Try & Buy’ folder has nine third-party programs that each give you three tryouts. Included are Wayfinder Mobile Navigator, Photographer, video utilities, a Word converter, a multi lingual text translator, plus a Zip file compression program. It’s a shame that these mostly useful programs come at an additional cost.
Other items of interest in the menu are a Bluetooth print program and support for Java MIDP 2.0 downloads.
The 6600 is available on the O2, Orange and Vodafone networks at prices ranging from ‘free’ to around £480 depending on the tariff you pick.
How the 6600 compares alongside other smartphones depends on your needs, but if you require a tri-band Bluetooth phone with a bright screen, and versatile camera, removable memory, and calendar and contact syncing with your desktop then the 6600 is worth considering. Good points include faultless Bluetooth, video clips with sound, support for Opera, and SSL encryption. The downside is no USB or desktop email syncing and having the MMC card stored under the battery.
Score in detail