At first glance you'd never guess that the Nokia 6280 is a 3G handset. Yes, it's a little on the fat side and it's larger overall than other sliders, such as the lovely Samsung SGH-D600, but hey, it is a slider, and it doesn't look out of place sitting among of non-3G handsets.
3G might not even be the killer feature for you. There's an FM radio, a reasonably good camera and bundled PC synchronising software to take into account too. And the price is pretty attractive.
The 6280 should be available from several operators soon, but at time of publication 3 has it exclusively for free on a range of Pay Monthly tariffs including under £20 per month. We found it SIM-free online for around £280.
If you read our review of the Nokia 6111, you'll have already had a sneak preview of the look of the 6280, as the two share a similar screen-dominated outside and front-button design.
The 6280 feels chunky in the hand. One of the benefits of sliders is the saving on size from hiding the number pad. But that becomes a non-factor when the handset measures 46 by 100 by 21mm in your pocket, and stretches the 100mm to 135mm when you reveal the numberpad. This makes it taller than most handsets, including another Nokia 3G handset we rather like, the N70.
Still, the 6280 hardly ever needs to show off its full height as you can achieve a great deal with the sliding mechanism closed -- you can take calls, for a start. The front keys give access to the full range of built-in software via the central Select button within the navigation key, as pressing this takes you to the complete applications menu. And you can use any software listed on the Active Standby screen -- which we'll explain later.
The screen itself is vast at 33 by 44mm, and its 240x320 pixels and 262k colours combine to give a very positive experience.
A fair array of connectors and buttons sit around the edges of the Nokia 6280. The right edge has a volume rocker and camera quick-launch and shutter button. The lens, flash unit and self-portrait mirror are on the back.
The left edge has a covered slot for miniSD cards, which can be used to expand the built-in memory, a push-to-talk key, which is mapped to the built-in voice recorder out of the box, and an infrared port, which we're pleased to see. Yes, you can use Bluetooth for data sharing, but infrared is great for a quick, one-off beaming between devices -- for example, sending a picture to a friend's phone.
The slide mechanism is fairly smooth, and has enough resistance that it shouldn't activate by accident when you are carrying the 6280 in a pocket or bag. There's a ridge across the full width of the front of the handset that you can latch onto with your thumb to push the top and bottom sections apart, but if you find this awkward you're going to have to push against the screen and risk finger-smudges, because going beneath the ridged area means you'll hit a key.
The numberpad is reasonably large, but its top row of keys are far too close to the upper section, and anyone with large thumbs might find it difficult to hit them successfully.