After having launched several angular clamshell models made of various materials Nokia comes to surprise us with a pretty average-level phone with rounded edges and plastic cover plates. Yet, the functional equipment of the 6101 model is so rich (i.e. two color displays, MP3 ringing tones, and a radio) it is hard to believe that such a phone will disappear in the crowd of mobile devices.
Nokia''s clamshells have always been somewhat special due to their original design concepts, whose main strength is the application of non-traditional materials and generally sharp edges. The launching campaign of every Nokia clamshell model was welcomed as an infusion of fresh air on the background of the torrent of silver, rounded clamshell phones offered by Asian manufacturers. On the other hand, exactly that type of mobile phones is being currently fancied by a great amount of mass users - a lesson Nokia and its share holders seem to have learned well. As a result, the Finnish giant has created the new 6101 clamshell, which is neatly rounded, has a tiny antenna, jutting out of the phone''s surface, but lacks any metal or leather-covered surfaces.
Elegant, decent outlook
Two color displays, the inside of which is of exceptional quality
Effortless communication with PC, fast data transfers
Low quality of the MP3 sound
Small memory capacity
Small memory capacity
Nokia is known for its brave experiments in the area of clamshell phones. Let us mention, for example, the 7200 model with its covers made of cloth, the 6170 metal cuboid or the flexible 2650 model, which did not even have the traditional joint structure. At present, the top one among the phones with a clamshell construction is Nokia''s 6260 model equipped with Symbian operational system, a swivel joint and metal cover plates. Slightly more expensive is, however, the stylish 7270 model with removable leather-covered plates and remarkable functional equipment.
You can imagine how big our surprise was when in February this year we first saw Nokia''s new rounded clamshell phone with plastic covers; it looked like any other common mobile phone on the market. No matter if we like it or not, however, this phone is surely going to have even bigger market success than its stylish competitors.
The unicorn devil
The phone''s surface is made of three types of materials - matt silver plastics, glossy black plastics and chromium-plated extra details. Most of the front cover is black and is therefore extremely susceptible to dirt left by finger prints. On the other hand, the phone''s design is jazzed up by elements like the square slot of the camera and the outer display surrounded by a chromium-plated frame. As usual, the manufacturer''s logo is situated above the display. The black area of the front cover is surrounded by a chromium-plated frame. It passes the front cover''s top edge and continues up to the phone''s top side. Another color version of the phone with a white instead of a black touch will also be available.
The margins of the front cover are silver. They continue to the top part of the device, fence the joint and melt into the back cover, which is entirely carried out in silver tone. The only ginger element here is the manufacturer''s logo engraved on black background. A black strip stretches along the middle line of the side parts. This effect is a result of the dominating black color, which not only creates the inside atmosphere of the device, but also reaches as far as its side parts.
The left side is gingered by a narrow chromium-plated double button, which regulates the volume; on the phone''s right side you will find an identical button, which controls the Push to talk function, complementing at the same time the dark slot of the infrared port. There is no switch-off button - just like in the 6170 and 7270 models- which means that there is practically no possibility to easily switch profiles when the phone is closed. The Pop-Port system connector, which complements the charger connector, is mounted on the bottom side of the device. The charger connector is smaller than the connectors of the present-day Nokia models. Utterly new is also the charger of Nokia 6101.
On the top side you will find the unobtrusive plate grid of the loud speaker and - of course - the jotting out antenna, which is really hard to miss. I wonder what made Nokia leave the antenna pop out of the phone''s contours, since in its 2650 model it proved that eliminating such a detail is a child-play. The external antenna is not cool anymore these days.
A single shake closes the phone
Those users, who like carrying their phone hung on a strip, could have got scared they would not be able to connect one to Nokia 6101. No fears, the phone is equipped with a strip that is hidden behind its back cover. To take the strip out, first interlace it through the slot next to the connector. The back cover also hides a lithium-ion accumulator of a 760 mAh capacity, which is supposed to guarantee the device 240 minutes of call duration and 350 hours of a stand-by time.
Not only does the design make this phone look very solid. The construction of the device is of high quality, as well, so do not lose your time waiting for creaky sounds. Yet, I have certain reservations concerning the catch of the swivel portion of the device. Even though it is solid enough when the phone is closed and needs no help to bottom its final location from an angle as big as 60°, its locking hook in a closed position is quite weak, which makes the construction of the phone act somewhat unstable. In the process of every day use, however, this detail does not hamper at all. On the contrary, it gives you the advantage of closing the phone by a single shake of your hand.
As for its size, Nokia 6101 ranges somewhere in the mean: it is not easy to loose, but will not hamper your movements either. Here are the numeric details: 85 × 45 × 24 mm. The weight of 97 g is a little bit bigger compared to the competition of Asian origin. You may need some training before you master the one-hand opening move, but the accentuated groove set along the dividing line of both portions of the phone facilitates this action considerably.
Silver-black atmosphere reigns inside the device. The big display mounted in the phone''s top part is imbedded into a silver surface surrounded by a black frame. Even more interesting is the keypad in the phone''s bottom part, and particularly its functional block. All four standard functional keys have been united to create a compact frame surrounding the control button. In order to create yourself a better idea of the design effect reached by using a suitable combination of silver and black color tones, please see the following pictures.
Despite the designers'' non-traditional solution, all functional keys are easy to access and are operated with absolute certainty. Pressing is low, its contra reaction is reasonable. Fortunately, the typical clicks are not so loud to disturb the ones around. The same holds true for the keys of the numeric part of the keypad. Thanks to their size and slight embossment the risk of error pressing is extremely low.
What is praiseworthy indeed is the four-way control button with its central confirming part. It is not only big enough, but also all four ways are easily and unmistakably selected even if your thumb is not one the smallest. The central confirming button is slightly punched out, which facilitates its pressing. The only thing the confirming button lacks is sufficient backlighting. The rest of the keys are enlightened in rich blue.
The keypad of Nokia 6101 is one of the best I have ever held in my hand. I did not even need time to become used to writing SMS for with this phone it turned to be an easy and high-speed activity.
A right clamshell has two displays
Nokia 6101 has two color displays, which seem to be utterly identical with those of the 6170 and 7270 models. This means the outer one is passive and able to show 4K colors in a resolution of 96 × 65 pixels. The inside display is of a notably higher quality, offering a resolution of 128 × 160 pixels, a support of 65K colors and the TFT technology.
The outer display alerts you about all missed events. Praiseworthy is also the fact that it never goes out completely. After a certain period of inactivity a clock, which is clearly readable even without the help of the back lights, shows up. Somewhat worse is the situation with reading the display at a direct daylight.
Feel free to place any kind of wallpaper or screen saver on the display. What''s more, you can pick up a color scheme at your will. The font however stays always black. I do not know what lead Nokia to designing the numbers, which show the time, in a way that they reach the upper margin of the display when the latter is lid up. It looks very unaesthetic.
As expected, the outer display shows the name of the caller as well as mini images. It also works as a view finder when the process of creating self-portraits is on.
No more boring grayness
The way data are arranged on the inside display has remained unchanged and is identical to the one of the rest of Nokia models. The phone offers an interesting option for setting the font color of the characters on the stand-by display. Such an option is still offered by very few Nokia mobile phones. Most mobile phones of the Series 40 do not offer a dark background option for the display for the font used on it is almost always black.
There are several changes waiting for you in the menu, as well. Once again, following the example of Nokia 6230i, menu''s icons are colored and cutely animated. Still, they are quite far from the coloring books typical for most Samsung mobiles, for example. There are two menus to choose between: the classic matrix menu or the line menu with smaller icons. To quicken your selection, use the numeric option for choosing the right item.
The most frequently used functions can be sorted into a list that is accessible by pressing the left context key. As for the right context key as well as all the ways of the control key, it is up to you to decide which functions they will be assigned. For the most frequently used functions the phone offers the voice control of numerous functions option, which is very helpful if you spend a lot of time driving.
Surprisingly, when I got into deeper levels of the menu I found not only the text legends of the items, but a graphic icon at the beginning of each line, as well. Although this element looks nice, apparently it is also the main cause of the notable slow-down of the phone (when compared to its less colorful forerunners). Nokia 6101 offers an option for changing the color of the menu as well as several schemes for a short-cut change of the current wallpaper, screen saver and melody.
Phone calls and phonebook
One of the lures of the new Nokia is the option for creating ringing melodies in a MP3 format. As a result, the 24-voice polyphonic melodies become somewhat marginal. Unfortunately, the quality of the sound performance is lamentable. Not only does the sound lack the bass element, but the heights are much distorted. When the volume is set at its maximum, listening becomes extremely unpleasant, not to say annoying, with the speaker giving out shrill croaky sounds. There is no doubt the quality of the sound depends on the type of music that is being listened to. Yet, even rock fans will be left disappointed for the sound of the electric guitars performed by Nokia 6101 is murderous for one''s ears.
The lack of the bass elements can be noticed during any loud playing. As for pronounced words alone, they are easy to hear even at the highest volume levels. The sound performance of the ear-phones is much better and can be hardly pointed out for something.
When the phone is ringing you can turn down the conversation sound by pressing one of the volume buttons on the phone''s sides. To deny a call you will need to open the phone and quickly press the red button. The obligatory opening of the device is also the reason any phone call to be received with a delay of approximately two seconds.
The phonebook takes in up to 500 names, each of which can be assigned 5 types of phone numbers, an identification for the Push to talk function, an email, a web and a street address, a note or a picture. A matter of course are the options for sorting all contacts into groups, for searching the contact list by gradual entering the initial letters of each name, for a quick choice and voice dialing. It is not possible to assign melodies to individual names. This option is reserved for organized groups of contacts only.
The phonebook itself can show all contacts available at a time, no matter whether they were saved in the phone or on the SIM card, or display them separately. You can choose out of 4 types of presentation: a standard list of names distributed on 6 lines, a list with numbers or pictures on 3 lines and a list displayed in a bigger font created with the objective of simplifying the work of users with sight difficulties.
Left alone the graphic icons, the changes the message menu has undergone when compared to the message menus of Nokia 6101''s forerunners of Series 40 are relatively minor. Text messages are written in a well-organized editor, which is equipped with a character allowance option and provides information about the number of the used messages. The editor offers three font sizes to choose from. A built-in T9 dictionary helps you write your messages. The phone''s memory takes in up to 150 SMS.
No modifications are to be found in the multimedia messages editor either. It still does not let you see the attached pictures when creating your message. If you invoke the preview option, the created message shows up and can be seen and heard in the format, in which the addressee is going to receive it. Text, sounds, images as well as videos can also be inserted.
A piece of news is the so-called sound message. It is a simple multimedia message, which carries nothing else but sound. The main advantage of these messages is that they are created and sent really quickly. In the menu, select creating a new sound message; this will take you directly into the voice mailbox environment. Press the key once to start the record, press it again to end the record, the third press gives a send order, then you need to select the addressee and the message is on the way.
Nor is the email client missing. It is however a java application, which is built into the phone''s menu. It is basically an improved version of the email client, which first appeared in Nokia 6230i. It works with attachments and uses email addresses from the phone''s phonebook. Do not, however, expect any revolutionary functions for the client is actually very simple and is thus able to manage one mailbox only.
Camera and entertainment
The built-in camera features VGA resolution. An additional smaller format, prepared especially for creating portraits for the phonebook, can also be set up. In reference to compression the image quality can be set up in three gradual steps. The camera is equipped with a self-timer and a night mode. Unfortunately, Nokia 6101 does not offer exposure compensation or color balance. Nor is a digital zoom available. The quality of the pictures is above-average when compared to the one of the images taken with other photo mobiles with VGA resolution.
The phone also records videos
Nokia 6101 offers 4.4 MB of memory for work with images. If this capacity was to be used for saving pictures only, it would be adequate. The memory is however shared by MP3 ringing files as well, which quickly use up most of it. Due to the size of the memory capacity, any hope to use the phone as a MP3 player is simply waist of time. Searching files in the phone is facilitated by a very well-organized manager. Files can be copied, moved, deleted or sorted into newly created folders.
Even though Nokia 6101 does not have a MP3 player, you still have the built-in radio, which can be listened to through a pair of ear-phones. Beside their standard function, the ear-phones also serve like an antenna and are delivered together with the phone. The radio''s environment is identical to the ones of the older Nokia models. You can tune it both manually and automatically; a maximum of 20 radio stations accompanied by a text description can fit into the phone''s memory. The quality of the sound is far from stunning with the lack of the bass element turning to be the most notable minus. Failing this, the sound is relatively clear and undistorted.
If not even the radio provides you with enough fun, then go for the 3 java games Nokia has prepared for you. The first one invites you to construct tubular systems, the second lets you play golf, and the third is a card game. More games can be found in internet and easily downloaded.
Organizing time, extras and data
Nokia 6101''s calendar is identical to the calendars in the other Nokia models of this Series. It features a month, week and a day view and enables for a record of 5 types of notes. You can enter a certain interval of event repeating as well as an alert in advance. The phone also has a task manager and a note editor. A note alone takes in up to 3000 characters. As for the alarm clock, there are two main setup options: a repetition of the alarm and an interval between the individual repetitions. Another available option is the setting of a favorite melody of yours as an alarm ringing.
Being a modern middle-class phone, Nokia 6101 can not afford to lack extras like a dictaphone, a calculator, a stopwatch and a countdown timer. Within the main menu a special place has been reserved for the Push to talk (PTT) function. We did not have the time to test its functionality in Nokia 6101, but it is set up in just the same way as the PTT of other Nokia models. I am sure PTT will be possible to use when the clamshell is closed - just like in the 6170 or 7270 models.
The phone can be connected to a computer through the infrared port or with the help of a data cable. To manage the device, you will need to use the Nokia PC Suite software package, which can be freely downloaded from the manufacturer''s web site. Work with this software is very easy and requires almost nothing but intuition. Nor will multimedia data transfers between the computer and the phone or synchronizing contact details from the phonebook and the calendar with Outlook cause difficulties to a regular non-experienced user.
Nokia 6101 can also work as a hardware modem. Data transfers are assisted by EDGE Class 10. If EDGE is not accessible, then turn to the standard GPRS Class 10 - it will back you up for sure. A WAP browser for surfing the net directly in the phone is also available.
Nokia 6101 evokes controversial feelings in me. On one hand, it is a middle-class phone with an excellent equipment and attractive design; on the other hand, the round forms as well as the silver plastic surfaces do not match my idea of Nokia mobile phones. If I was to choose which model to buy, I would probably go for the 6170 model or pay a little bit more and get myself a Nokia 7270. Whatsoever, Nokia 6101 is not an ugly or - even worse - a copied mobile phone. It is recognizable at a first sight and will hardly leave unnoticed among its clamshell competitors. What''s more, the majority of users will definitely like it.
The phone hit the market just days ago. The street prices should be around 270 euros, which is still a relatively big amount of money for a mobile phone. Even though the equipment of the new Nokia 6101 is rich, it lacks an important application like Bluetooth, for example. Many users would have also appreciated a memory of bigger capacity