The Nokia E6 is the sequel to the Finnish firm's BlackBerry killer, the Nokia E5. Nokia has gifted this successor with a new operating system, a touch-screen display and an 8-megapixel camera, making it an excellent choice for dedicated mobile typists.
SIM-free, the E6 will set you back around £300, with monthly contracts expected to start at around £15.
Practice makes perfect
Despite its poor screen and less-than-stellar camera, we quite liked the Nokia E5. It boasted fantastic build quality and a great keyboard – two things that have thankfully been carried over to the E6.
Nokia's latest Qwerty-packing phone also benefits from seriously appealing design. From the lush metal bezel to the highly-responsive direction pad, everything about the E6 reminds you that for all its faults, Nokia is a company that certainly knows how to make fantastic hardware.
Although it's not the heaviest handset in the world, the E6 feels much more significant than its 133g weight might suggest. The device is so robust we'd be willing to bet it's capable of surviving plenty of nasty drops – although we're not brave enough to actually put this theory to the test.
The keyboard has changed little from the one we so lovingly caressed on the E5, although the torch shortcut – which fired up the camera's LED flash and was mapped to the 'space' key – has been removed. Instead, holding down the lock switch on the side of the phone for a few seconds achieves the same result.
Because the E6 is sporting Anna – a modified version of Symbian^3 with heavy support for touch input – it should come as no surprise to learn that Nokia has included a capacitive touch-screen. The Gorilla Glass display has an impressive resolution of 640x480 pixels (double that of the E5), but at 2.46 inches, it's uncomfortably cramped.
Still, the OS really comes to life with the addition of finger-friendly controls. Navigating the phone's menu system is much easier, and you've got the added bonus of being able to use the D-pad to select choices.
All about Anna
Although Anna (and Symbian itself) are on borrowed time following Nokia's commitment to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, the OS still provides a decent user experience. You have multiple home screens to play around with, and you can edit the layout of icons and live widgets. It doesn't rival the level of customisation that Android currently offers, but it's a step in the right direction.
It's a shame then that this likeable OS is handicapped by Nokia's decision to use a 600MHz processor in the E6 – the exact same one that was seen in the not-exactly-nippy E5. This choice means the phone grinds to a halt whenever you're loading up a CPU-hungry programme or moving between applications. Needless to say, E6 owners will need to get used to seeing the spinning circle 'loading' icon, as it seems to accompany practically every activity.
Like the vast majority of Nokia's phones these days, the E6 features support for the company's Ovi Store, a repository of applications and games that can be downloaded directly to your handset. You'll need to sign up for an account if you don't have one already, and don't go expecting the same selection of items that Android and iPhone users are currently enjoying.
Focus on this
Many will argue that the mobile megapixel race stopped being relevant many years ago, but Nokia still seems hell-bent on out-doing all of its rivals. The E6 boasts an 8-megapixel snapper capable of shooting 720p HD video. Image quality is decent enough, but the lens is fixed-focus – a bizarre choice with a megapixel count this high.
Like the predecessor, the E6 is gifted with above-average battery performance, and this makes it a great choice for those of you who don't like having your phone constantly connected to your wall charger.
It's also worth noting that the E6 comes with support for 3G and Wi-Fi, although the sluggish CPU can make viewing web pages and videos a jerky experience. Finally, we're pleased to report that pinch-to-zoom is supported by several applications on the E6.
The E6 is most definitely an improvement over the E5, offering a touch-screen interface, improved Symbian^3 'Anna' OS and a more robust and aesthetically-pleasing design. It's just a shame that Nokia didn't see fit to bolster the anaemic processor and add in an auto-focus camera.
The N6's natural rivals are the ageing (yet still popular) BlackBerry 8520 and the BlackBerry 8900, but the presence of a Qwerty keyboard puts it in direct competition with similar phones, such as the Android-powered Acer beTouch E210.
Compared to all of those devices, the E6 fares extremely well, and if you can put up with its faults you'll come away reasonably contented with your purchase
Edited by Jennifer Whitehead