The Nokia E6 is the follow up to last year's Nokia E5. It's a handset with a mini-QWERTY keyboard and a small screen, designed to appeal to business users and consumers with a serious text habit.
For the business user, access to Mail for Exchange, Microsoft Communicator Mobile and SharePoint may appeal, while consumers get the usual range of POP email, Gmail, Windows Live, Hotmail and so on.
This melding is subtly achieved, and is not, in fact, the key selling point of the Nokia E6. That is the presence of Anna — a revamped version of ^3, Nokia's touch friendly, Symbian-based operating system.
We know that Nokia will bring out Windows Phone based handsets before the end of the year, and it also has another touch-based operating system, MeeGo, which will be available in the N9.
But, for now, Anna is the company's best effort at a touch-based OS. It shares much of the look and feel of ^3 so that it does not betray fans of older, no-touch Symbian handsets. Touchscreen aficionados will bemoan the multi-step way you populate the five available home screens with shortcuts and widgets, but Anna still feels slicker than ^3.
Anna combines well with the button-based approach found beneath the screen, which offers Home, Calendar, Messaging and Contacts shortcut buttons each with a long press alternative. All but the Home button can be customised. There's a D-pad for times when pressing at the screen is inconvenient, and we used it and finger-touch about equally.
The QWERTY keyboard is responsive and well made, the latter comment also applying to the chassis as well, which is sturdy. The 8-megapixel main camera is well specified and there's a front-facing camera for video calling. Eight gigabytes of on-board storage can be augmented by a microSD card. GPS, Wi-Fi and HSDPA (up to 10.2Mbps) are present. The 3.5mm headset jack on the top edge of the device supports TV out.
If anything lets the Nokia E6 down, it's the small screen. Resolution is good at 640 by 480, but overall size, at 2.46in. across the diagonal, makes the screen simply too small for squinting at maps or web pages — even reading incoming email is less comfortable than we'd like.
It's not just the screen size that annoyed us, though. The wait icon kicks in far too often when you run apps, leaving you twiddling your thumbs while the handset works out what to do next. The E6 just isn't snappy enough.
Still, the Nokia E6, at around £299.99 (inc. VAT) SIM free, is a serviceable handset that may do enough to keep fans of the Symbian OS happier than ^3 did. We'd like to see it get more outings and hope it doesn't get buried under Windows Phone.