With such a big focus on the latest and greatest technology, it’s often easy to forget about the other consumers who don’t require high-end features in their handset of choice. In my opinion some of the major manufacturers have been a little lack in recent times when it comes to keeping their mid- and low-range handsets up to today’s standards – Nokia is not one of these companies!
Nokia announced the 6300 in late November, and it has just arrived on the Australian market. It is a mid-range handset with some high-end features: a 16.7 million colour display, stainless steel panels, and wide multimedia format support.
As I just mentioned, the standout features for the Nokia 6300 include the 16.7 million colour display, the stainless steel design, and the enhanced Series 40 user interface. Other than those three things, the rest of the features are the stock-standard for a mid-range handset.
The 6300’s display is a top-of-the range QVGA resolution panel, capable of displaying what is known as ‘true colour’ – 16.7 million colours. This is the latest advancement in mobile phone displays, and it’s great to see Nokia including this in mid-range handsets. The quality of this display really must be seen to be believed!
The 6300 runs the Nokia Series 40 3rd edition platform. It is responsive and very easy to navigate around with the 5-way navigational pad and additional two soft keys. The handset has a wide range of built-in applications (calendar, media players, web browser, and so on), but more can be added thanks to the Java MIDP 2.0 application environment.
Weighing 91 grams and measuring 106.4 x 43.6 x 13.1 mm, the 6300 is around the average for a candy bar handset. The stainless steel panels give the 6300 a professional touch. The QVGA display occupies most of the front of the handset, with the keypad beneath it.
The battery cover is stainless steel, and slides on and off with ease. On the left and right of the handset are two blue ‘reminder lights’, which fade in and out to notify of missed calls and unread messages. The only buttons on the side of the 6300 are the volume up and down keys on the right. The on/off button is located at the top of the handset.
The entire numerical keypad is made of plastic (which looks like stainless steel), and is extremely comfortable to use. Above the numerical keypad are two soft keys, the 5-way navigational keypad, and the hang-up and pick-up buttons. All keys are backlit by bright blue LED’s.
In an unusual change, the Nokia 6300 does not have the proprietary Pop-Port interface. Instead, there is a miniUSB port, charging port, and a port for the Nokia stereo headset. This could possibly indicate a move away from the Pop-Port interface for Nokia, but I can’t see why!
The miniSD memory card slot is located underneath the battery cover. The battery itself does not need to be removed to access the memory card, so the port is classed as hot swappable.
User interface & display
Running the Nokia Series 40 3rd edition user interface, the Nokia 6300 is stable and easy to use. Series 40 is a tried and tested platform, and I find it to be one of the most bug free non-smartphone platforms out there. It is the most widely used by Nokia in their non-smartphone range, and is just as functional as Series 60 except it does not run a Symbian operating system.
The Series 40 interface is highly customizable by themes, but also allows the colour and size of the font to be changed via the settings menu. Only one theme was pre-installed on my 6300, but there are many more online. Wallpapers and screensavers are all configurable, and high resolution images look absolutely stunning on the 16.7 million colour display.
Active standby is an ingenious feature by Nokia that displays a wealth of information on the standby screen. Like the rest of the user interface, it can be personalized to suit individual tastes. Active standby splits the standby screen into four panels, and these panels can be assigned to display upcoming calendar entries, countdown timers, general indicators, notes, the radio & music player, or the shortcut bar. The shortcut bar is a scrolling bar of icons which can be selected from a list of 55 different functions. By default the bar shows 5 icons, but this can be increased or decreased as desired.
The 6300 also has a ‘Go To’ menu (by default this is the left soft icon when in standby mode), which can also display any of the 55 shortcuts that are available for the shortcut bar. By default Go To has a link to the keyboard lock, the camera, the music player, and the radio application.
The main menu can be displayed in a list, grid, grid with labels, or tab view. The 10 icons (messaging, contacts, log, settings, gallery, media, web, organiser, applications, and Push-To-Talk) can be arranged according to personal preference. Additional icons cannot be added to the main menu.
The 6300’s display is a top of the line QVGA LCD, capable of true colour representation (up to 16.7 million colours). This display cannot be complimented enough, and really needs to be seen - screen captures don’t do it any justice! Nokia should be commended on including this type of display in a mid-range handset, ensuring that those who cannot afford high-end handsets (or just don’t need them) don’t get left behind in advancements in technology.
Making and receiving calls
The Nokia 6300 is compatible with the GSM 900, 1800, and 1900MHz networks. These three bands are the most commonly used across the globe, except in some continents where the 800MHz band is widely used. The 6300 automatically switches between network bands when necessary.
Inside the 6300’s sales package is a stereo headset, which can be used for calls, listening to music, or listening to the radio. The earpiece or the integrated loudspeaker can also be used for calls. Bluetooth headsets can be used, but they need to be purchased separately. Volume through all mediums is adequate, and is adjusted by using the up and down keys on the right hand side of the handset (or the volume keys on the Bluetooth headset, if any).
The contact book supports multiple entries when the contacts are stored in the handset memory. Additional numbers (including PTT numbers), e-mail addresses, web addresses, company names, job title, formal name, nick name, postal address, birthday, personal notes, images and video can be added to each contact.
If you constantly make calls in noisy environments, the 6300’s voice clarity functionality may be of some help. It is activated through the call settings menu, and enhances speech intelligibility. The handset has 6 ring tone profiles, including a flight profile, which disables all radio features so the handset can be used in radio-sensitive areas. The silent profile can quickly be activated by holding down the hash (#) key.
MP3, AAC, and MIDI files can be used as ring tones. The 6300 has 10 pre-installed AAC files, but any compatible file format on the internal or external memory can be used.
The Series 40 messaging functionality is very similar to that of Nokia handsets running the Symbian operating system. There is a shared inbox for SMS and MMS messages, while e-mail messages are handled by their own Java application. T9 predictive text input is supported for all message formats.
By default, pressing the left navigation key from the standby menu will open the new text message window. Going through the menu system and selecting New Message will prompt for a selection between text message, multimedia message, multimedia plus message, flash message, or audio message.
The text message composition window is straight forward – a box for recipient(s), and a text box for the message body. A character counter is displayed in the top right hand corner, indicating the amount of characters left and how many SMS messages the current message spans. Messages up to 1000 characters can be linked together into a single message.
Multimedia messaging is very similar: each slide has three input sections where text, an image, a video clip, a sound clip, business card, or calendar node can be inserted. New slides can be added as desired, but the size limit for MMS messages is set to 300KB. Objects pushing the total over this limit will be refused.
Flash messaging is something I haven’t seen in quite some time. It was popular back in the days of the Nokia 33xx series – quite some time ago now!! A flash message is like a text message, however it is limited to 70 characters and has a special ‘blinking’ character which makes some (or all) of the text in the message blink. Most handsets support this type of message, but only a few provide composition for them.
I thoroughly enjoyed messaging on the 6300. The keypad is tactile and comfortable to use, and although the buttons are small they each have their definite boundaries from the buttons surrounding them. The 6300 just misses out on the full 5 stars because it does not support push e-mail services. It excels in every messaging format it does support, though.
Nokia have done away with Infrared on the 6300, instead just offering Bluetooth and USB for local connectivity. The handset is compatible with the GSM 900, 1800, and 1900MHz networks with EDGE and GPRS protocols for packet data.
Bluetooth, packet data, and USB connection settings can be accessed under the “Connectivity” tab in the main settings menu. The USB settings menu is only accessible when a data-cable is connected.
The Bluetooth 2.0 support on the 6300 has support for the most popular profiles, including headset, hands free, and stereo headset. The context menu of the file browser has “Send via Bluetooth” for easy transfer of files wirelessly to supported devices. The included PC Suite software can transfer data to and from the 6300 using a Bluetooth connection.
Inside the 6300’s sales package is a USB data-cable for connection with a computer. When connected, the 6300 displays a prompt asking for selection of Nokia mode, printing & media mode, or data storage mode. Nokia mode is used for communicating with the handset via the PC Suite software, and the printing & media mode is for usage with a PictBridge compatible printer. Data Storage mode is simply the Mass Storage Device profile for USB, which means that the PC Suite software does not need to be installed to transfer files to and from the handset. Only the memory card can be accessed in data storage mode.
EDGE and GPRS (both Class 10) protocols are used for packet data connectivity. The 6300 also has an integrated modem which can be used to connect a PC to the internet, over the HSCSD protocol.
A range of video and audio formats are supported by the 6300’s multimedia players. The Media Player application is for video, and the Music Player is… you guessed it - exclusively for audio! All files stored on the memory card and internal memory can be accessed through the gallery application.
The Music Player on the 6300 has library functionality for cataloguing all audio files stored in the memory. The library can be sorted by artist, album, genre, composer, or by playlist. The equaliser has 7 pre-sets: Normal, Pop, Rock, Jazz, Classical, and two user customizable pre-sets.
The Media Player is capable of playing back locally stored video (on the memory card or internal memory), or streaming video over a GPRS/EDGE connection. Full screen playback is supported.
The Media Player and Music Player applications can be found in the Media folder from the main menu. However, browsing to a file in the gallery and opening it will automatically launch the correct application. The Music Player can even play music in the background while writing a text message or accessing another feature of the handset.
An FM stereo radio tuner is built in to the 6300, but to use it the stereo headset must be connected – it acts as the aerial. Radio stations can be programmed to numerical keys, and the audio can be played back through the stereo headset or the loudspeaker. The application has an automatic search feature, or stations can be manually entered. Mono or stereo output is also supported. The player is compatible with Nokia’s Visual Radio service; however this is not used in Australia.
The usual Nokia PIM applications come pre-installed on the 6300. There’s an alarm clock, calendar, to-do list, notes application, calculator, countdown timer, and stopwatch. Synchronization is supported over the air (by SyncML) or by using the PC Suite software via USB or Bluetooth.
The calendar application is very easy to use and has support for several different appointment types: meeting, call, birthday, memo, and reminder. The calendar can be viewed by month, week, or day, and can even be displayed on the idle screen through the active standby functionality.
The calculator is a small Java application, which has exchange rate conversions and advanced mathematical functionality including SIN, TAN, COS, square root, Pi, and others.
On the miniSD memory card that came with my 6300 there were four additional Java applications which have some PIM-like functionality. The first is Converter II, which makes conversion between a range of measurements easy. Conversions for temperature, currency, weight, length, area, and volume are offered.
The Presenter application is used to control PowerPoint presentations and many other Windows applications via Bluetooth. The software required can be found on the CD in the sales package, but the computer being used must have Bluetooth connectivity. The Nokia Wireless Presenter application is a little tricky to set up as you must know the COM port used by the Bluetooth adapter, but once that’s done everything worked correctly!
I couldn’t quite figure out what the Sensor application was, but it seems to be some way of communicating with nearby devices via Bluetooth. The other devices must also have the Sensor application, and when connected files from the ‘My Collection’ folder can be accessed and notes can be sent between users.
The World Clock application is pretty self explanatory!
No problems here! The 6300 is an extremely solid handset in every regard, and there is no creaking or loose parts. The back battery cover and front decal of the handset is made of stainless steel, the rest is a glossy black plastic.
The battery cover slides off by pushing the bottom of it in and sliding it down. The microSD memory card slot is on the right hand side of the battery; the battery does not need to be removed to access it. Removing the battery when necessary is easy, just slide your finger into the indent and pull upwards. Underneath is the SIM card slot.
Powered by a 860mAh lithium-ion battery, Nokia say the 6300 should last for around 3.5 hours talk time and up to 336 hours standby time. In my testing I could go about three days of regular SMS/MMS messaging and several 10-20 minute calls before the handset started warning me of low battery.
Using the included battery charger, it takes around 2 hours to charge from near-empty. The 6300 uses the now standard mini charging port. The 6300’s battery is not charged while it is connected via USB.