Brick or the Nokia 6600 Picture Phone

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There comes a time in a phone’s life (usually after a couple of years) when it just can’t handle it any more. We all know the symptoms. The frustration of a fully charged battery in the morning, and the damn thing conking out by the afternoon; that stupid “number 8” button which only works when you press it really hard; switching on your phone and getting “Please Insert Sim” or “Sim Card Not Ready” - yes indeed. You need an upgrade. The chances are that when you go in search of your new pocket-sized pride and joy, you’ll end up being ushered towards the latest multi-media picture phone. But will the Nokia 6600 be the right multi-media phone for you? Well read on then, that’s what you want to find out isn’t it?

First of all, I’ll try to break the review down in to more digestible portions.
Phone specification and technical ability are of course important, but it’s the practicality and usability that should be, in my opinion, the main preoccupation of a prospective buyer. That is therefore what this review tends to focus on.

So, as I see it, there are some distinct categories of mobile phone user.


"The Texter”

Looking at it from a man’s perspective, although the phone is relatively large and chunky leading you to believe it would be better suited for a man, the buttons are rather awkwardly situated towards the bottom third of the phone. It’s like the 6600 is saying, “look at my lovely 65k colour screen…oh, and by the way there are some buttons squeezed in at the bottom just because they are needed”. Sure the phone is marketed as a multi-media phone, but when it comes down to it studies have shown that the majority of people use their phone for texting much more than talking or other functions.
One other gripe related to messaging is the fact that the buttons have no real definable feel. That, couple d with them being very close together, means messaging doesn’t really bode well if you are already of the one-handed speed texting breed. At I guess, I’d say I text at about half the rate I used to with my previous 3210, 3310 and 6210 phones.
To put it bluntly, if you’re mad about “texting” then this probably isn’t the phone for you.

"The Casual User"

If you want a new phone, one that looks quite stylish, allows you to do all that you need to (which is talk and text) and aren’t bothered about features then this phone will suit you fine. I will state however that battery life in my experience means 2 days heavy usage, 3 days of moderate usage and perhaps 4 days light usage. It does last noticeably shorter than previous phones I have had, and with its features and gadgets, it is very power thirsty. If you are a casual user, and perhaps casual about the way you look after your phone, you might find that being a bit of a problem. The Nokia 6600 has a screen ½ the size of the phone. It can be very easy to scratch it, and since you can’t replace the fascias you’ll have to live with any damage that might occur. Another problem is that the lens of the camera is not shielded in any way, so the chance of it becoming scratched is certainly worrying. There is no leather/protective case available for this phone at present. The phone has a good build quality, and is solid and robust. I would suggest however that the fairer sex would perhaps not feel at ease using the 6600, it is considerably heavier than many newer phones and isn’t the most petit, slinky model around.

“Inspector Gadget”

Until extendable arms and hats with propellers are invented for real; the gadget enthusiasts amongst us will have to suffice with the latest in mobile phone technology. The Nokia 6600 will not disappoint when it comes to features. The inbuilt camera has a x2 zoom facility (a lbeit x2 digital as oppose to optical, i.e. your picture is magnified by a factor of 2 rather that zooming in twice as far), it has night-vision and portrait options as well. The video capture clips include sound, but unfortunately only last up to 10 seconds which is rather disappointing, especially with the generous 36Mb of memory included when you get the phone and expandability option of this if you wanted to buy a larger memory card (e.g. 256Mb). You can also record sound clips up to 1 minute in length, with the audio quality, as you’d expect from a mobile phone. Video clips pictures and audio files can all be sent as MMS to compatible phones. If you want, you can also attach an audio clip to a picture and send it as one message. Picture quality is good, but if you happen to own a fairly decent digital camera (even 1 mega pixel) then don’t expect any surprises. Trial software for improved camera ability (a greater zoom capacity) is included with the phone, but sustained usage will mean downloading and paying for the program.

With this phone, connectivity is a big thing. WAP, GPRS, AIM, ICQ, MC HAMMER, well ok maybe not Mc Hammer, but the others are all there. I don’t know many people who actually use Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) to get information. In this day and age surely everyone has access to a computer for the net or a TV for the news. WAP isn’t a selling feature of this phone. What might be however is being able to effectively get mobile access via the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) to the internet, and surf the ‘net in full, unrestricted colour. Accessing web-based e-mail accounts, use ICQ or the America Online Instant Messenger service, can all be achieved anywhere you want, anytime. Access is a bit slow, taking about 1-2 minutes to download a full page to the phone for browsing. If you get a monthly bill, try to get one with inclusive SMS/MMS/GPRS messages and minutes as an MMS generally costs 4 times an SMS (normal text) and GPRS is charged either by the minute, or by the amount of data downloaded when online (per Mb).

Other novelties include Bluetooth and Infrared connection. These allow data transfer between compatible devices, whether another phone, or a PC. Even the right digital photo printer can be used with Bluetooth to receive a picture and print it directly, cutting out the need for going via a PC.

All the other standard features that you’d expect come with the 6600. Calendar, clock, money converter, calculator - all the usual. The games included are disappointing. A graphically updated version of Snake, and Mix-Pix, which is as exciting as it sounds – you “un-mix” some, jumbled up “pics”. Oh how they thought hard on coming up with that name.

Summary

No major flaws with this phone. It’s rather bulky, but packed full of features. You can pick it up on a decent talk plan for between £100 and £200 (then £20-£30 per month after that), spending a bit more on the cash price will likely mean inclusive talk time, sms, mms and gprs, so if you can afford to this extra initial outlay it might mean better value in the long run. You can pick the Nokia 6600 up sim-free for around £350 if you know where to look.

Verdict

* Want a feature-packed phone and don’t mind the bulk? Go for it.

* Want to text madly, or have butter fingers? Maybe pass on this one.


You could do a lot worse than the Nokia 6600.
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