First looks: Nokia E6
The Symbian Anna Messenger
It is evident that the hot favorites of the mobile market today are your touchscreen smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone and the kaleidoscope of Android handsets. However, there is still demand for QWERTY messenger smartphones, a market that's dominated by BlackBerry and Nokia. It has been more than a year since we reviewed the Nokia E72; it was a success due to its premium design, good battery life and great QWERTY keyboard. Since then, we have not seen a competent successor and it is about time that Nokia comes up with one to keep up with the competition. Nokia's response is the E6, which runs on the latest Symbian Anna operating system (OS) and is the first QWERTY touchscreen model from the company. So, is it good enough to replicate the success of the E72 in the midst of stiff competition?
If It Ain't Broken, Don't Fix It
If you have seen the E72, you'd notice that the E6 looks very similar to it. It comes in a sleek package and is adorned with premium materials such as glass and stainless steel. As expected, the build quality is excellent; the E6 feels solid in the hand. At 133g, it has the right heft, being neither too heavy nor too light.
While the E72 comes with a 2.36-inch screen, we see a small upgrade to 2.46 inches on the E6. While there's nothing special about it being the first Nokia handset to come with a VGA (640 x 480 pixels) screen, the main highlight is its pixel density. The size of the screen means that the E6 has a pixel density of 328ppi, which is slightly higher than the iPhone 4's 326ppi. Hence, the E6 displays sharp images and vivid colors, making viewing a pleasure. Of course, it would have been even better if the screen is larger.
The E6 retains the full four-row QWERTY keyboard that the E-series models are renowned for. The keys are soft and sufficiently raised, requiring no extra effort to press them.
New Symbian Look
The Symbian Anna user interface is now better optimized for a touchscreen, and features redesigned rounded icons. You now have five home screen panels (that's the maximum number of home screens you can have too) to place widgets and app shortcuts.
Nokia has also added notification popup for Symbian Anna. When you tap on the top right hand corner of the screen, you can access the Connectivity menu, battery information and other notifications such as missed calls.
The web browser has a performance boost as well; loading time is now faster. The browser sports improved tab management; you can now scroll, add or delete tabs easily.
The E6 is powered by a 680MHz ARM11 processor with 256MB of RAM, which we feel is sufficient for users who use it primarily as a business phone.
The E6 is not all about work. It's equipped with an 8.0-megapixel camera, 8GB of internal memory and a 3.5mm audio jack. The 8GB memory will come in handy for storing your music files. If you need more space, there is a microSD slot that supports up to 32GB microSD cards.
Usability and Performance
Generally, navigating the Symbian Anna user interface feels smooth and fluid, though it's not as snappy as the iPhone 4. One thing is for certain: gone are the days where you swiped and the phone would take a couple of seconds to react.
In terms of camera performance, despite the 8-megapixel sensor, the camera is a fixed focus one (Nokia calls it full focus). This makes it unsuitable for taking close-up shots. Image quality is above average under well-lit conditions. The presence of a dual LED flash means that you can use the E6 in low light conditions.
We have no problems using the QWERTY keyboard; the typing experience is for the most part a comfortable one, and the buttons provide good tactile feedback. Within minutes of trying out the E6, we were able to type out messages swiftly and with minimal errors.
Battery life has always been the strength of the E series and the E6 is no different. Compared to the E72, the E6 is miles ahead, clocking an impressive 8 hours 23 minutes in our battery test suite. As such, it should be able to last more than a day of moderate usage on a single charge.
The Nokia E6 is a very competent QWERTY messenger phone and will have no problem taking over the throne from the E72. Although it suffers from average camera performance and a rather small touchscreen (albeit a high resolution one), the premium build quality, comfortable QWERTY keyboard, killer battery life, and a refined Symbian Anna OS more than make up for it. We have no hesitation recommending it to anyone looking for a lasting, business-centric QWERTY phone. The Nokia E72 has a retail price of S$545.