Nokia's 6680 is a 3G handset –- quite a rarity for the company. It updates the lacklustre 6630, which fell down for us because it lacked a front camera for video calls and because we weren't happy with either its quirky shape or its poor keypad and navigator.
Fortunately for Nokia, the 6680 addresses all those points. In all departments it's a better 3G handset than its predecessor, and capable of giving the currently available range a run for their money.
We got our review unit operator-free, and so without any operator software tweaks. This means some of the features we mention might not come with your handset. Check with your operator if there are features you specifically want.
Operator-free, we found the Nokia 6680 online for around £360. At the low end of the price range we found it for free on Vodafone's Anytime 350 and Anytime 500, both of which are £40 per month (for 18 months). We also found it for £80 on a £20 per month contract from 3.
The Nokia 6680 has an encouragingly normal look about it. Nokia has, in the recent past, sometimes gone over the top with handset design, occasionally leaving us wondering if the company ever talks to its users (read our reviews of the idiosyncratic 7280 and 7710 if you need evidence).
So it is encouraging for us to find that the 6680 is a very phone-like phone. Perhaps slightly too wide, too tall and too heavy, but then Nokia has had to squeeze cameras on the front and back and a slot for a Reduced Size MultiMedia Card, as well as 3G capability, so we are inclined to forgive that.
The back camera shoots at 1.3 megapixels and has its own flash unit. There is a somewhat tacky cover for the lens and flash that occupies the full width of the back of the casing and about half its height. You slide this down and the camera software starts to run, with the handset's navigation pad providing for zoom, image capture and switching between video and stills mode. It's just the kind of quick, easy system you want from a handset.
On the downside, the back camera lacks a mirror, so pics of yourself need to be taken with the front camera, whose resolution is a less-than-impressive VGA (640x480 pixels).
The screen shows off your shots to good advantage -– where this handset's predecessor offered only 64K colours, the 6680 has 262K and the improved quality is welcome.
We weren't happy with the curved numberpad on the 6630. This time around there is still some curve, but it is less pronounced, and consequently the buttons are easier to hit. The softkeys are very large, and the navigator feels firm under the thumb. It's not all good news, though. The vertically arranged buttons for Call and End as well as access to Nokia's Menu, Clear and Edit keys are rather fiddly.
Side buttons are sparse. On the left edge is one that activates the speakerphone during a call and voice commands otherwise, on the right the power button. The right edge also houses the memory card slot, protected by a nicely designed, very sturdy hinged metal cover that is far better than rubberised protectors and seems unlikely to break off.
Overall, we found the Nokia 6680 a comfortable handset to use. The ergonomics are a vast improvement on those of the 6630.
Nokia's 6680 is being presented first and foremost as a 3G phone, but it's also a smart phone. It earns the title thanks to its Symbian Series 60 operating system and PC connectivity, which, via the provided PC Suite software, allows it to synchronise contacts, diary, to-do list and notes with a desktop PC. The smart phone features mean it should appeal to professionals, and Nokia has done a good job of catering for them as well as to anyone looking for some fun from their handset.
There's a good set of software extras on the RS-MMC if you want to use this handset for personal productivity. Pop the card into its slot and you get the Adobe Acrobat reader as well as QuickWord, QuickSheet and QuickPoint readers for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, and a utility for setting up Bluetooth keyboards.
The card also provides an application called Info Print that you can use to print notes, messages contacts and calendar items via Bluetooth (assuming you have a Bluetooth printer). This sits alongside Nokia's image-printing system, XpressPrint, which allows you to churn out prints direct from the handset, even via Bluetooth. You also get photo- and video-editing applications so you can improve and enhance your shots and movies, and to round things off, you'll find the Kodak Mobile Service for ordering prints over the air.
If you're into personalisation, heading straight for the Tools option will reveal Themes with which you can skin your handset. Our review unit was operator-free, so we don't know what theme options operators will provide, but we had none pre-installed. We downloaded a free theme and applied it without any trouble, proving the system works.
It's good to see Nokia providing a stereo headset to complement the AAC and MP3-compliant music player. Sound quality is only so-so, though, and if you want better you'll need a headset with a Pop-Port connector. This is annoying, but the real pity is that with just 10MB of internal memory and a meagre 64MB RS-MMC card provided to augment it, you'll need to invest in a bigger card if you do want to use the 6680 as a mobile music machine.
A nice extra is the Active Standby Mode. This is a screen offering shortcuts to five applications and showing your upcoming calendar events as well as the two softkey-based shortcuts. Personalise all these and you have a nifty route into your most frequently used aspects of the handset. Note that you may not get this feature from your operator –- we understand that Orange uses its own home screen instead, for example.
Web browsing was smooth -– with the usual caveats that the small screen of a handset is clearly not appropriate for every Web site you may visit from your desktop.
Video calling was good and it could be rather fun to use the video-sharing service which allows you to share live or saved videos during a voice call -- network and handsets willing. 3G reception with our Vodafone SIM was not a problem, though we didn't stray beyond the confines of the M25 during testing.
Battery life, one of the notorious problems with 3G handsets, was fair. Nokia's estimates for 3G usage are low, but you aren't going to be surfing and making video calls all the time, and we found ourselves easily able to go for 48 hours between charges.
Nokia seems to have redeemed the errors of the 6630 nicely and produced a good no-nonsense 3G handset.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide
Thanks to Expansys for providing a review sample of this phone