There are quite a number of similarities in Nokia’s current colour handset line-up - but the looks department is always an exception (this is probably what Nokia does best for each of their models!) The new 6100 model follows this same tradition - having nearly the same built-in features as the 6610 and 7210 models but looking very much different. Oh, and not forgetting to mention that the 6100 is Nokia’s lightest and smallest phone (based on overall volume) ever made!
Alike the 6610/7210, the 6100 comes with the new feature sets supporting colour (4096-colour LCD screen and menus), polyphonic tones and speakerphone, multimedia messaging (MMS), tri-band support (GSM 900/1800/1900) and the new 4-way navigational key. In addition to infrared (IR), it also comes with Nokia’s new Pop-Port proprietary interface connector allowing accessory connectivity as well as a data cable connection with the PC via USB.
If you are already familiar with both the 6610 and 7210, what you may want to focus on here is the slightly-more-different physical characteristics of the phone plus the replacement of the FM radio option with the electronic wallet feature, which was similarly available on the 6510.
Considered as being one of the smallest Nokia phones ever made (based on its overall volume), I did find the 6100 to have quite a comfortable hold in my hands. Its sizing is proportionally smaller to that of the 6610/7210 - and if you are concerned about size when choosing your next phone, the 6100 will probably be the better pick of the three.
The 6100 does share several design similarities with the 6510/8310. For a start, it adopts a very similar keypad layout especially in the shaping, locality and angling for each button (with the exception of the 4-way key) - while being illuminated by a light-blue backlight similar to that used on the 6510. Additionally, the 6100’s main body design follows very closely with that of both 6510 and 8310 - its antenna section at the back of the phone is not covered by its Xpress-on cover (being white on the 6100, instead of black on the 6510/8310), and the IR port is located on the phone’s right side.
Remember that complaint I had with the 7210’s power and volume buttons being hard to press? Well, both of these sets of buttons have been made extremely easy to press on the 6100! Love the big size of the volume buttons, which controls both earpiece and speakerphone volumes… :)
And finally, yes - you can replace the snug-fit front Xpress-on cover of the 6100 to be of another colour. Simply remove the back cover from the phone, which locks-in the front cover in place, and push the two clips on each sides in to raise the front cover from the 6100’s body. Removal and replacement of the Xpress-on cover is very much easier than that of either 6610 or 7210!
User Interface & display
The 4096-colour LCD display of the 6100, used similarly on the 6610/7210, goes a good job with displaying simple colours and graphics - like those used for each of the sub-menus. But once you have too many or variations in colours displayed on-screen, the screen has a hard time in coping and to provide a sharp and high-definition image. This is one of the disadvantages in using an STN-based LCD screen - while on the other hand, out of most colour LCD screens available, it is one the most economical to power.
If you’ve seen the 6610/7210 menus, you will notice that the 6100 carries a different genre of icons for each menu item. There’s no difference in how the menu items are ordered, it’s just all about cosmetics really.
Making and receiving calls
Probably the only comment I have to make about the 6100 in terms of voice calls is the improved speakerphone performance.
Since Nokia first introduced this feature onto the 7650, there have been problems where the speaker’s volume was just too soft to feasibly conduct a handsfree conversation. On the 6610/7210, this problem was addressed - but on the 6100, you could say that the speakerphone system has finally been perfected. One can now conduct a handsfree conversation loud and clear!
All the new colour Nokia models come with support for concatenated SMS messaging, as well as the ability to send and receive MMS messages. The 6100 is no exception, offering a comfortable keypad layout for words to be quickly typed out (with T9 enabled) for either basic SMS, picture and MMS messages.
A new feature available on the 6100, which is not included on either 6610 or 7210, is the ability to create and manage distribution lists for SMS messages. This becomes a handy feature if you send SMS-based messages to a group of people on a frequent basis. For each distribution list (a maximum of 7 lists possible), you can have up to 20 numbers or recipients.
For some of those quick T9 typists out there, the 6100 reacts sufficiently to every keystroke and buffers those that cannot be displayed in time. But I did find that the 6100 was very marginally slower than that of either 6610 or 7210 in this area (and in one or two normal standard phone browsing situations as well), which should not be a problem.
Most of the new Nokia models have improved build quality both in the actual body of the phone and how snug the Xpress-on covers are when on the phone. The 6100 not only boasted a solid build - but had easy-to-exchange Xpress-on covers while keeping overall rigidity.
However, as the back cover didn’t encase the phone’s entire backing, there was a bit of squeaking when I depressed the top-centre of the back cover. Other than that, it fitted securely to the back of the phone and did not budge unless I pressed the release button.
Using a new battery design that helps minimise the depth of the phone, the 6100 also performed quite well performance-wise gaining around 2-3 hours talk time and 3-4 days standby time.