The 6600 is the most powerful phone we have seen from Nokia to date. The peculiarly-shaped 9210i may have been considered the ultimate Nokia but it is outdated compared to the 6600.
The specs list is hefty and so is the 6600's body, especially around the middle. Measuring 108.6 x 58.2 x 23.7 mm and weighing 125 grams, it is not a petite phone. Its plump appearance may turn some punters away but they'll be missing out on the 6600's crowd-pleasing feature set.
A large 65,000-colour (16 bit) TFT display graces the front of the handset. Colours appear bright and we saw very little degradation in direct sunlight. The only oddity we observed with the screen was a hint of iridescence when sunlight hits the screen -- like when colours are reflected off a soap bubble -- but this wasn't a major hindrance.
Streaming video is possible on the 6600 through the RealOne player clips stored in memory of the phone or on MultiMedia Cards. Using the recently launched OptusZoo service we were able to watch live television streams of SBS, ABC and CNNi broadcasts. The quality of the stream is a bit blocky, however catching the evening news when you're going home on a train is a genuinely impressive feat for a GSM/GPRS phone. Thankfully, Nokia includes a mono headset so other passengers aren't subjected to the noise coming from the 6600, which can get impressively loud.
The camera captures still shots at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and Nokia touts its 2x zoom. One caveat: it uses a digital zoom so images captured using it aren't the best quality. The 6600 records video with sound at a resolution of 176 x 144-pixels. During testing, photos taken using the standard day and night settings all ended up with a slight blue tinge. This was not so apparent on the 6600's small screen, but viewing the photos on a monitor and printing them out shows this flaw quite markedly.
Housed beneath the battery and beside the SIM card is the MMC slot. A 32MB card is supplied but the 6600 supports higher capacity cards. On the O2 Xphone the MMC slot is conveniently located on the side of the handset, which allows quick access. However, the internal placement of the MMC on the 6600 makes it cumbersome to remove the card as it requires removing the back cover and the battery first (and of course the reverse to switch the phone on) in the style of the Nokia N-Gage.
Following in the footsteps of the 3650, the 7650 and the N-Gage, the 6600 is based on the Series 60 platform -- a customisation of the Symbian operating system. Series 60 is gaining support from other vendors, such as Samsung and Siemens, and competes in the smartphone market with mobiles running Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system. It is easy to get the hang of the 6600's icon-based user interface and Nokia devotees will have no trouble making the switch.
Keys are laid out much more practically than the circular keypad found on the 3650. The one curious change is with the menu key. Most Nokia mobiles center the menu key under the display, but on the 6600 it's located on the left of the keypad between the answer and edit key, a factor that took us some getting used to.
Fans of Opera -- the alternative Internet browser -- will be pleased to see the software has been developed for the 6600 (and other Series 60 mobile phones) with a feature that reformats Web sites to fit on small screens. Nokia supplies Opera as a complimentary application to European and African markets and Australian users can download the application here.
Nokia is pushing the imaging capabilities of the 6600 in Australia through partnerships with Hewlett-Packard and Fujifilm. Consequently, customers are being wooed by promotions offering free prints through Fujifilm Digital Photo Centres where you can insert your MMC card and select photos to print through DIY touch-screen kiosks.
To test the printing application bundled with the 6600, we were also supplied with an HP Deskjet 450cbi and Bluetooth CompactFlash card. After attaching the battery and inserting the Bluetooth card to the back of the printer, the 6600 had no trouble connecting to it wirelessly. With this totally mobile printing setup it is a breeze to print out photos, e-mails, messages, and contacts anywhere and the printing application professionally formats the printouts.
Themes, applications and games can be downloaded through operator sites or going to the Nokia bookmark in the 6600's browser. Contact details can be thoroughly filled out in the numerous fields of the address book and the 6600 has a suite of personal information management (PIM) tools, like a calendar, notes, voice recorder and a currency converter. Tri-band support enables the 6600 to be used in Australia, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Africa.
This cutting edge smartphone will appeal to business users and tech enthusiasts alike and this market is bound to use the handset to its full potential. The high retail price will restrain mainstream users and others will simply find the 6600 too bulky.
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