Mobile phone

20 Nov 2003

Product: Nokia 6800
Price: €549

It has been done before, although seldom quite so neatly. The Nokia 6800 is a standard size, in fact very neat, mobile phone that opens out to give a small but usable QWERTY keyboard with the colour screen in the middle. So that tells the basic story: this is a mobile aimed at the business user, for whom email on the run is valuable – and sending text messages without having to click three times for a single letter.

Like PC colour screens when they first became common, the primary benefit is clarity. The display on the Nokia 6800 is 128×128 pixels or eight lines of text, more than adequate for short emails. If you are into pretty pictures, they look fine too. In fact the tranquil river scene which is one of the screensaver options will comfort any trout angler through the long winter months. Or you can personalise with a sentimental family snap if that is your predilection.

This is a GPRS phone, incorporating standard GSM of course, and can handle the 900-1800MHz bands if you are crossing the Atlantic. That also means multimedia messaging, if you want to receive images and sounds, and standard Wap internet browsing. There is no camera (thankfully) but you can store and relay MMS messages. The sound quality is particularly good, in normal mode or with earpiece but also in hands-free loudspeaker mode. In fact there is a built-in FM stereo radio, but it only functions when the earphone is plugged in, even on loudspeaker. Reception, tested only in the Dublin area but on the move, was uniformly excellent.

The all-round functionality of the 6800 is very impressive – in fact assuming you don’t want a camera phone, it is hard to think of anything missing. The phonebook and SMS distribution list functions are comprehensive, speed dialling and voice-enabled dialling (10 people) are very convenient, and other functions include a clock with alarm and stopwatch, calculator and even currency converter. The voice recording feature can hold up to about three minutes, useful for notes and numbers.

Battery performance is also state of the art: standby is claimed at up to 150 hours but our test unit managed a full seven days with perhaps 30 minutes maximum talk time. Seven hours of talk time is promised on a single charge. But the keyboard is the star. The keys are just a bit too small for comfortable thumbing but great for ‘hunt and peck’ with finger or pen cap.

PC links are offered through infrared or USB connections (extra) which will then enable personalisation through Java applets and synchronisation through SyncML while other features are downloadable over Wap, GPRS or HSCSD (High Speed Circuit Switched Data) which we will hear more about in the near future from the Irish mobile operators.

If you really want a camera function, by the way, there is an optional Nokia Camera Headset. Perhaps some people in field inspection roles might find it useful.

A very surprising omission is Bluetooth, so that a cordless earpiece is not available, and at the price one would imagine the USB connector could be supplied as standard. Although the Nokia 6800 is €549 without a SIM, customers entitled to an upgrade have some negotiation room and for a sign-on it is ‘just’ €329.

By Leslie Faughnan