Nokia 6230

14 Oct 2004

Product: mobile phone
Price: €199/€436 SIM-free

Given the effort Nokia and others are putting in to fill their phones with features and applications it’s always worth remembering that these devices are first and foremost phones and it’s good to see that the 6230 acquits itself well at handling the essentials. Call quality is very good and although the keypad seems small at first glance, the phone passed the crucial one-handed texting test with honours.

On a full charge, the battery life is good. It takes several phone calls, text messages and general use before making any serious dent in the device’s power consumption display. Nokia’s own promise for likely battery use is broad enough to cover all bases, but most moderate mobile users should comfortably get three or four days from a single charge.

For such a feature-rich phone the wonder is how such an array of applications can be crammed into a small device. The 6230’s 97gram weight belies its size; at 103mm x 44mm x 20mm you almost expect the phone to be heavier.

The colour TFT screen is sharp and bright, measuring 27.3mm x 27.3mm. The main screen can be customised from a series of pre-installed graphics or a new image that can be downloaded or sent to the phone. The phone also has ample memory capacity, shared between applications.

The most impressive part of the 6230’s armoury is the excellent connectivity that really does beg the question why you would want a PDA, especially when this phone can synchronise directly with a PC through infrared or Bluetooth. I was able to swap files in both directions quickly and painlessly. Add that to an organiser and calendar application on the phone and there’s not much of a business case for keeping a clunky handheld as well when a sleeker mobile can pretty much do the same job.

An email client is included for connecting to private and business email and you can also send emails via SMS. It synchronises with Outlook on the PC so there’s no unnecessary duplication between the mobile device and the desktop. Connecting the phone’s calendar with the PC was simplicity itself and this was a major plus point in favour of the 6230.

On the multimedia side of things, the 6230 is well served with a radio, audio player and a camera capable of taking still and moving images. On balance, the audio side of things comes out on top. The radio option, which works when the headphones are plugged into the phone, is very serviceable. The device can also play streamed media files.

I’ve yet to be convinced that having a camera on a phone is much more than a gimmick and this device isn’t going to make me change my mind. The 640 x 480 pixel resolution from the 6230 is nothing special and doesn’t bear comparison even with bog-standard digital cameras. Pictures saved in standard mode were grainy when viewed on the phone and even more so when transferred to the PC — even the highest resolution settings don’t produce stellar results.

The video mode is marginally more successful and obviously that relies on the camera as well. The sound quality is better than the picture when the phone is in capture mode and the playback doesn’t skip too many frames.

For example, it did a very good job of recording 35,000 Irish fans in full voice at the Stade de France recently, but some points were dropped for a somewhat poor display (the phone that is, not the match). Personally I’d have happily traded the camera feature to shave a few euro off the asking price as it’s still a very strong product without it.

The only question mark remains over its identity — the extensive connectivity options make it ideal for the business user but the multimedia features hint at more of a consumer leaning, perhaps priced just above what you could expect to pay for a pure ‘entertainment’ phone. Available for €199 including Vat on contract or €436 including Vat SIM-free, when everything is taken into account this is a phone worth stretching the budget for.

By Gordon Smith