The Nokia 6820 is a true messaging device which really enables the user to use almost every kind of messaging format available to date, and type even quicker messages than using T9 predictive text with the full QWERTY keyboard. This isn’t the only feature of the 6820 however; it does have a reasonably long feature-list including a camera (video and stills), PIM applications, and EDGE data.
Nokia have released several other QWERTY keyboard models in the past, only one or two have been like the 6820 though, that is they fold out like a clam-shell phone to reveal the keyboard. Other QWERTY keypad phones like the to-be-released 9500 and 9210i have had a hinge on the left side which opens to reveal a huge display and the keypad.
The 6820’s specifications list looks great, but does it live up to expectations placed on it? For the most part, yes. Some other aspects could have been designed a little bit better, but read on for everything about this elite messaging device!
The 6280 has a few new features, but the most outstanding is the fold-out QWERTY keypad, complete with symbols, calling buttons and more. Other new and outstanding features is the support for Blackberry (I do believe this is the only phone on the Australian market that supports this), rotating 4,096 colour display, Bluetooth & Infrared wireless technology, EDGE data and Java. Of course there is also a camera, although it is a rather low-end quality camera.
The phone looks like any other Nokia Series 40 device, in the standard form factor. It is clear that something can open, mainly because of the gap between the selection keys and the other keys on the front side. The left and right side also have “arms” which allow the flip to move. When open you will find a full QWERTY keyboard, which has numerical buttons at the top alike any other QWERTY computer keyboard. Even punctuation buttons are included for professional messages which can’t include SMS slang :)! The keypad is only really suitable when typing messages, it’s not very comfortable to use when doing anything other than that, and there is really no need for it.
Blackberry is something that hasn’t really hit off in Australia yet, but is something I’m really looking forward to. It’s very big in America, with many teenagers and professionals alike using the service. Basically, the Blackberry service is push-based technology which delivers emails and other messages directly to a device (in this case the 6820). It integrates seamlessly with your personal and/or work e-mail account(s), so you can send and receive mail directly from your device. You can access this directly from the Messaging menu on the main menu.
The 4,096 colour LCD on the 6820 I personally think is a little small for this type of phone, but never the less does its job reasonably well. It automatically rotates (not physically, the UI just rotates 90°) so that you don’t have to move your head when typing with the keyboard.
Bluetooth and Infrared are the two local connection methods you can pick from when you need to connect the phone to another device. Audio and data transfer protocols are supported with Bluetooth, and the infrared port is able to be activated and transmit data directly from an items menu; ie. An image can be sent directly via infrared by selecting “Send” and “via Infrared” in its menu. USB Bluetooth dongles are now widely available to connect your PC or laptop to a Bluetooth device, and infrared adapters are the same.
For over-the-air connections to wireless services like WAP and MMS messages one of the fastest protocols in 2G networks is supported, namely EDGE data or EGPRS. Although not supported in Australia yet the EDGE protocol lets you connect at speeds reaching 384kbp/s. This “Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution” is a new technique specifically designed to 2G network capacity and data-rates.
The camera on this handset from Nokia sadly isn’t VGA, something that I and many others probably expect on any new camera equipped phone. It supports capturing images of CIF resolution, 352 x 288 pixels. Videos with sound can also be captured on this handset; there are examples of both video & images in the Camera Performance section of this article.
Nokia Series 40 devices all look the same in a general sense, when you look at one you can most probably say “this phone belongs with the other Series 40 phones.” The 6820 is the same; the standard form factor slim-line look so common with other Series 40 devices is there. The only difference from this device and others is that it is still a standard form-factor phone, with one moveable part. Other than that the 6820 isn’t anything new to get used to holding or operating.
There are no removable parts to the 6820, the sales package look is the only look available without opening and damaging the phone. A small section on the back of the phone can be removed to replace the battery and insert SIM cards - other than that there is nothing. The main look of the phone comprises of silver on the front, and white on the back. The far left and far right numerical buttons are a medium shade of blue, including the selection keys. There are three selection keys, and one on/off key which make a rectangle around the display. There are two lines beside the left and right numerical keys, which is a clear plastic which allows the keypads backlight to shine brightly through. The buttons in the middle are grey, and the 5-way directional key is clear.
When you manage to open the flip and reveal the QWERTY keypad you will notice that the same style on the outside has been continued onto the inside. The top and bottom layer of buttons are that medium shade of blue, and the middle 3 rows are the same silver on the outside. There are a total of 54 keys on the left and right flip combined, and it includes all punctuation, numbers, and operational keys. If it’s dark and you can’t see the keys properly hit the very far top left key (labelled with a light globe) and activate the backlight of the keypad. Every single button is clearly lit up and you can see everything.
Although the buttons are small, they’re not ridiculously tiny so that you can’t press one without pressing a range of others. During my long trial of the 6820 I never pressed a button I didn’t want to when using the QWERTY keypad. Generally your two thumbs are used to type with the keypad, and my thumbs fit perfectly on the buttons.
The battery back on the 6820 fits fine into the back of the handset, and an improvement from other Nokia devices is that the whole back cover does not have to be removed to access the battery and SIM card. As you’ll see from the photos in this review the grey part is the only bit that is removed, and the plastic is a holder for the battery, so when you remove the back cover the battery comes with it. This is much better than having to use a small object to lever the battery out like in some other models. A small catch at the bottom of the 6820 allows removal of the battery pack.
The Pop-Port™ and charging ports are located on the bottom of the phone as always, neatly tucked away, and for those who need it the wrist/neck strap insert is located on the top left hand corner of the handset.
The 6820 is a reasonably nice looking phone, but the design is keeping in within safe boundaries. Many companies are going all out with new designs, but with Series 40 devices Nokia is playing it safe.
User Interface & display
The Nokia 6610, 7250, 7210, and countless others use the same UI as the 6820 - so if you have had contact with any other Series 40 device there are no major changes with this handset - the age old 9 icon display is back. A returning Nokia user or a newbie to Nokia’s UI will have no problems getting accustomed to the 6820. The single LCD display on the 6820 will act as the viewfinder as well as its normal job.
Well thought out menus make the 6820 easy to operate and find what you need without having to consult the menu tree in the manual. Messages, Call Register, Contacts, Settings, Gallery, Camera, Organizer, Applications, and Services are the 9 main menus, with text sub-menus underneath them which are ideal. The main menu’s can be displayed in either grid or list form, something we first saw in the 7250i. The list menu takes up the whole screen for each animated menu icon, and the grid view will show all 9 smaller icons in the one screen (an extra 10th icon will be accessible if you have SIM Services on your SIM card).
The main and only display on the 6820 is a little low-class for me; I would have liked to have seen a 65,536 colour LCD like in the Nokia 6230. The display is 128 x 128 pixels, nothing surprisingly large or shockingly small. It does do its job well, but when displaying images or scrolling through the animated menus, or playing Java games the quality (or lack of) can be seen. Never the less when typing messages or whatnot the display is fine and shouldn’t cause hassle - except for the little delay in most functions.
Wallpaper can be attached to the idle screen; any picture on the phones memory can be used. Pictures are pre-installed on the phone for you to use and you can download some from MMS messages, WAP pages or Bluetooth/Infrared data transfers. A range of colour schemes will change some aspects of the UI, you can choose from many primary colours and other nice colours like Violet. The screensaver timeout and display contrast can also be changed from the Display Settings sub-menu in the Settings main menu.
Making and receiving calls
Phones these days do so much more than just make and receive calls, this section is almost forgotten about! Most phones are so simple to use for calling that very little explanation is needed. The 6820 is so simple to use for calling that there is absolutely no way you could get it wrong!
When the flip is closed and the phone is idle the main buttons for calling are the red hang up and green pick up buttons. Dial in a number and press the green button to start the call, or display a number on the screen from the phonebook or from a message and press that same button to start the call also. When you’re done, or a call is coming in which you don’t want to accept just press the red decline/hang-up button. Simple huh!
Sometimes you will receive calls when the flip is open, and because you can’t put the phone up to your ear when the flip is open the audio is directly routed to the speakerphone. The same green and red buttons are on the open flip too, so just follow the above instructions to accept and start or decline calls. If you need to enter in a number when the flip is open just press the numerical keys on the top row of buttons, and press the green key.
The speakerphone could have been louder on this model, but when using it normally next to the ear the audio volume is fine and the microphone is placed nicely so that not much background sound gets in.
Now, this is the section where the 6820 performs better than most other models, because it’s what the phone is designed for! Aside from the full QWERTY keyboard this Nokia model also supports the yet to take off Blackberry service, E-mail, MMS, SMS, and EMS. Instant messaging and presence enhanced contacts are also supported - Nokia have really given birth to a real messaging superstar!
The main attraction in this section is the full QWERTY keyboard that can be used when the 6820’s flip is open. It gives the user faster text input, and when you have used the phone for a while and become used to the keyboard messaging is so simple and fast T9 predictive text it put to shame. Once you open the keyboard flip the display adjusts for you, and T9 predictive text is disabled because there is really no need for it. If you immediately start typing on the keypad the phone will think you are typing a note, not a message - so you must either scroll to the message menu and create a new message, or just move the directional key to the left. It’s that simple - just start typing your message on the keypad, the far left and right buttons in the lowest set of keys acts like the shift key for special characters, or you can press the button on the far left with 4 rows of dots to go to the symbols menu.
If at any time you don’t wish to continue typing using the keypad flip you can simply close it and the phone display will revert back to the normal side and T9 text will be re-enabled for you to use, and you can continue with your message. To change between text and number input, as always, press the hash key. There is a little delay when typing with T9 text, however I didn’t notice any delay when using the keyboard flip.
Now onto Blackberry, the service I partly explained earlier in the article. Simply, instead of you having to check your mail on your mobile like normal email clients, messages are immediately pushed to your handset without any input on your part. When someone sends you a message and the server receives it, it’s delivered to your phone with very little delay - meaning you can get information quicker than ever before. Blackberry is e-mail based, so they’re not a 160 character text limit or anything like that. With the added help of the keyboard flip Blackberry messages can be replied to or created in an instant. Blackberry can be set up by selecting it in the main Messages menu.
SMS/EMS messages are all supported on the 6820, and the extra long messages can be both sent and received. MMS message are also supported for sending and receiving of video MMS - as well as the normal picture, text, and sound MMS messages. A Java e-mail client will support your other non-Blackberry e-mail services over several protocols.
So you can send SMS and EMS messages, MMS message, use Blackberry, and e-mail messaging - but what enables the 6820 to perform these services at high speeds? GPRS and EDGE to that job, EDGE being the fastest wireless data protocol out of the two. A WAP browser performs the downloading of information and display of that data on the screen in a friendly manner. Bluetooth and infrared, as well as the Nokia Pop-Port™ interface are for other connections.
The EDGE data protocol can establish connections of up to 384kbp/s in selected areas - unfortunately Australia doesn’t have EDGE supported area’s as yet, but in the future it will most probably be implemented. The 6820 is tri-band, so if you go to a country that supports EDGE you can use it there. A faster connection means more data in less time in a simple sense, so the 384kbp/s bandwidth in EDGE will make a difference to any download. GPRS is supported most widely, and can reach speeds of 48kbp/s, which is no where near EDGE!
The WAP browser on the Nokia 6820 has built in decoding of xHTML pages, allowing multimedia rich pages to be displayed comfortably and brightly on the 6820’s display. This browser can download Java games & applications, ring tones, pictures, and heaps more - just check out one of the pre-set bookmarks to see what’s available for your phone!
Bluetooth and Infrared are the wireless connections for other short-range devices like a PDA or a computer. Bluetooth and Infrared connections to a PC can download and synchronize data on the phone, and transfer files/install applications - all with the Nokia PC Suite software available from the Nokia website. Bluetooth profiles for an audio headset are implemented for your convenience. A USB Pop-Port™ interface data-cable is available from Nokia for high-speed USB connections.
Good quality phones on the inside and out are some Nokia usually produce, and in most areas the 6820 is fine. There are some little things though, discussed in further detail in the Problems/Issues section of this article.
The two most noticeable problems related to the build quality is the movement of the flip when using the phone normally without it open. The flip tends to move from one side to the other as you’re typing messages which can be annoying. The other thing is the buttons on the outside of the handset, buttons inside the keypad flip don’t seem to have this problem - they’re too soft! The actual buttons themselves are hard, but the mechanism underneath it way too soft, the buttons don’t “click” in, they merely touch.
As always, battery life on this Nokia phone was great. There was no major drainage from using the camera on the handset; battery management over at Nokia seems to be pretty well established. The 6820 uses a standard lithium-ion BL-5C battery at 850mAh. It should support the phone for about 7 hours talk time and around 10 days standby time.
Activating the lights for the keypad flip for a prolonged time may cause slight loss of standby/talk time, but these lights are deactivated by default when the keypad is opened so you have no one to blame other than yourself if you leave it on! :)