I’ve mentioned numerous times already that the mobile phone market are moving away from your regular candy-bar form factor handsets, and towards clam-shells and sliders. To combat this demand manufacturers are pumping out more clam-shell, slider, and other form factor mobiles than ever before. Nokia’s latest slider handset is the 3G-compatible 6280.
Slider handsets allow the main keypad to be hidden from the user when not required – reading messages, receiving (and even making) calls, browsing WAP pages, and listening to music. When you need the keypad for number or text input a quick push on the top section reveals the keypad ready for use. There is definitely a size reduction in sliders (length mainly); but generally these handsets become thicker than your average. Another advantage is more room for a bigger display!
It’s only been in recent times that Nokia have really caught up with other big mobile phone manufacturers in camera quality, and even display quality. It wasn’t long ago when Nokia hadn’t even released a 262,144 colour display yet! The 6280 features a state of the art 2mpx digital camera with video and still image capability. Like all of the high-end camera phones the imaging application is landscape oriented for a true imaging experience.
The camera isn’t everything about the 6280, although it is quite the selling point! The handset also sports a 320 x 240 pixel TFT LCD, miniSD memory card support, video calling support, push-to-talk and an FM stereo radio.
The miniSD memory card slot on the 6280 is hot-swappable, as it is located on the left hand side of the handset. Hot-swappable means you don’t have to turn the handset off and remove the battery to access the memory card. In the sales pack is a 64MB memory card, which should be fine for some users – but the hardcore users will find that this isn’t enough and will have to purchase another, higher capacity card. With the internal memory at a hilarious (for the wrong reasons) 6MB, the external memory card is going to fill quickly.
The 320 x 240 pixel TFT LCD is beautiful to use and the colour representation is amazing. The LCD can display 16-bit colour (262,144 colours). When using the landscape orientated camera viewfinder the true capabilities of the display are realised. Browsing WAP pages with multimedia including images and animations is also a great treat.
Aside from the 2mpx main camera, a small additional VGA lens is included just above the LCD especially for video calling. On most handsets with a similar setup you can access this inward facing camera through the camera application for self-portraits, but on the 6280 this doesn’t appear to be the case. You just have to make do with the small chrome window next to the 2mpx lens.
An FM stereo radio has also made it to the feature list of the 6280. The radio has Visual Radio functionality, which allows you to see the current playing song and interact via WAP. This functionality is operator-dependant, and there doesn’t seem to be any stations in Australia that have adopted this ‘technology’. We’re only just getting the hang of RDS!
The 6280 is a very attractive handset. It comes in a not-so-common form factor and in two great colour schemes that are bound to impress anyone! Plus, I’ll never get sick of the feeling of the handset sliding open and shut – you can’t explain it ;)
The front of the 6280 is occupied mainly by the 262,144 colour TFT LCD that looks great in any lighting condition. Below this are the two soft keys, hang up/pick up keys, and the 5-way navigational pad. You will find the small VGA video-calling camera just above the display. This minimalist design in my opinion looked great, it’s not too busy and definitely sends off a professional vibe!
Turning the 6280 around the Nokia logo is as big as ever, and there’s also a text 2 MEGAPIXEL message underneath. The actual camera is positioned more towards the top of the handset, with a small chrome mirror and the dedicated flash on the left hand side/bottom (depending which way you’re holding it) of the lens. The back is very plain, with mainly black and the basic silver camera border.
Left hand side of the 6280 has the Push-To-Talk key, loudspeaker, infrared window, and RS-MMC memory card slot. The infrared window is hidden very well, as it’s covered by plastic and not distinguishable from the rest of the handset. If you just aim your IrDA receiver at the left hand side of the handset you’ll eventually find it. The opposite side has the dedicated camera key and volume up/down buttons.
As always the Pop-Port™ and charging port are at the bottom of the handset. The 6280 uses the smaller charging port, which seems to be what Nokia are going to stick with. The top of the 6280 just holds the power on/off button.
User Interface & display
The Nokia 6280 runs on the Nokia Series 40 3rd edition platform. I really expected a Symbian interface on this handset – the 6280 could really be classed as a Smartphone, and Symbian would have been a great addition to this handset. Never the less, the Series 40 interface does as it should, with an icon-based main menu and with the use of a 5-way navigational pad and two soft keys. The display on this handset is your high-end 320 x 240 pixel TFT LCD with 262,144 colour capability.
The 6280 has three operational modes: closed, open, and camera. They’re all pretty self explanatory so I won’t go into much detail, but when in the closed mode you still have access too all the features of the handset except you won’t be able to input any numbers or letters, as the keypad is hidden. You can still make/receive calls, read messages, view images, and more.
Sliding the 6280 open gives you full access to the 6280’s numerical keypad for number and letter input for calling and messaging. The camera mode is only used when capturing images and video, and is started by pushing the dedicated camera key on the right hand side of the handset. This will open the application which runs in landscape orientation. The camera key is therefore in prime position, just like a regular camera! When you close the camera application everything returns to the normal portrait orientation.
The interface is very fast and responsive, which is always a good thing. The main menu is by default in a grid view, but you can change this to a list, grid with labels, or tabbed. The tabbed menu is good, but it only works to one level – for example going to the Settings tab and opening up “Tones” brings up a list view. You can move around any of the main menu icons according to your own tastes.
Themes can be applied to the user-interface of the 6280 to give it a whole new look and feel. The physical styling of the 6280 is very universal, that is, whatever colour scheme you choose for the user interface should match with the physical side of things.
The idle screen of the 6280 (some people like to call it the ‘home screen’) displays the operator, reception, time, date (if selected), and all other icon indicators (Bluetooth, infrared, alarm, etc). You can display a set of quick-icons on the idle screen which list your most recently used applications. You can also have the day view of the calendar displayed!
When viewing images in a gallery you can view a list with details, list, or grid. I find the list with details the best, but it all depends on personal preference!
Making and receiving calls
Video calling and your regular audio-only calls are both supported on the 6280. The dedicated inward-facing VGA camera is placed in the perfect position for video calling, and the 262,144 colour LCD is another plus. The 6280 has stereo loudspeakers for great quality conference calls.
Some 3G phones have the space to incorporate a dedicated video call button, but Nokia have not done so and stuck with the one pick up/dial button and one hang-up/cancel button. The green button, by default, starts an audio call. Unfortunately this cannot be changed but for the most part you’re going to be making audio calls. If you need to make a video call you’ll have to access the options menu and select video call. You can do this in the contacts, when you input a number, or when you find a number in a message.
When in a video call the options menu gives you the ability to go to the main menu (say if you needed to find a message during the call), adjust the contrast, video quality settings, and a bunch of other features. It doesn’t however allow you to flip the video so the video you’re sending is bigger than the video you’re receiving. On the actual video call window there are two buttons at the bottom of the video which give you quick access to mute audio and stop sending your video. A big cross will appear over your video window when you’ve activated this function. To end a video call just push the red hang up button as usual.
Audio calling is just as you’d expect with any handset. I experienced great audio quality both with the earpiece and the loudspeaker.
The Nokia 6280 has all of the messaging standards you’d expect in today’s high-tech world. There are basic SMS/EMS messages, multimedia MMS messages and the latest in e-mail sending and receiving. The 2mpx camera is great fun for video and still image MMS messages, and with T9 predictive text you can say what you want to say faster.
The 6280’s messaging interface is just like your average. There’s a separate section for text messages and MMS messages, and e-mail messages also come under their own separate heading. When you select a new message you can select text, audio, or multimedia (some international handsets may have other options, like flash and postcard). The message input menu for text messages gives you a recipient(s) box, and then a larger box below for the actual body of the message. You can enter names or numbers into the recipient box, and also access the contacts if you don’t know the number off by heart.
When composing an MMS message the layout is a little different. You have to select “options” and then add the data you wish – image, video, animation, sound, and so on. Then the appropriate windows will appear to select the data. There are smaller boxes at the top of the MMS window which give you the To:, Subject: and other miscellaneous inputs. MMS messages cannot exceed 300KB each.
If you have trouble seeing the 6280’s standard font size you can change the size of messages in the options menu. The large size is much easier too see but of course takes up more space.
The 6280 has built in emoticons which are automatically inserted into your text/MMS messages. For example typing :) would change to a small (somewhat demonic looking!) emoticon face, as would typing :(. You can turn these off; as they are not actually sent with the message the 6280’s operating system just converts them into graphical emoticons. Several templates are pre-installed on the handset.
The e-mail client on the 6280 supports attachments of many file formats, including jpeg, MP3, PPT, DOC, XLS, PDF, and 3GPP, for both sending and receiving. For business users on the go this is great news, as you can keep updated without having to access a PC and go online. The application is compatible with SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4 e-mail servers.
Bluetooth, Infrared, and USB 2.0 are the local connectivity options you’re given on the 6280. When you need to connect over-the-air for WAP or MMS, there’s a wide range of choices depending on whether you’re in 2G (GPRS, EDGE, HSCSD) or 3G (WCDMA data) network coverage. Either way you’re guaranteed to have connectivity wherever you are – remember the 6280 is tri-band GSM compatible too!
Nokia’s interface connector on most of their handsets these days is known as the Pop-Port™. This port brings together all connectors (instead of having one for data, one for audio, and so on) making it a lot easier to connect accessories. The Pop-Port™ is USB 2.0 compatible for high-speed data transfer.
An infrared port on the 6280 can be utilized to send data to/from another mobile device or to connect with a PC for synchronization and general data transfer. Given that you have an infrared port on your PC/laptop infrared connectivity is very easy to get working.
The Bluetooth wireless connectivity on the 6280 is an easy, secure way to connect to a PC or other accessory. With up to 10m range (with some reaching 100m on the new version, but that’s another story!) you can connect to devices that are not in the line-of-sight of the handset, like you had to with Infrared. The 6280’s PC Suite software fully supports infrared, Bluetooth, and USB connections so whichever you choose you’ll be given full functionality.
WCDMA data on a 3G network gives you enough bandwidth to stream video, download full-length MP3’s, and opens the doors to much more than simple text WAP pages. With up to 384kbp/s (theoretical) speed, it’s faster than some broadband connections!
If you happen to roam into a 2G network, you can still access WAP pages and all the rest that comes with over-the-air data transfer. EDGE (not yet implemented here in Australia) and GPRS data are the two protocols the 6280 supports. There’s also HSCSD for using the handset as a modem.
I wouldn’t expect anything but the best from Nokia! The 6280’s build quality is excellent, even with a problem-prone sliding mechanism. It appears that the 6280 has two metal rails on each side which the bottom sliding section is attached onto. This gives a smooth feeling when opening and closing the handset. When fully opened a little bit of force must be applied to close it – it clicks into place to ensure that the keys aren’t going to slip under your fingertips when messaging! This is similar when closed; the keypad isn’t just going to slide out without helping it along.
The back cover of the 6280 is rounded at the top and is easily removed if you push down on the bottom whilst pushing up. The battery will only fit one-way into the back of the handset, and the small SIM holder can be lifted up by flicking the small tab on the left hand side.
A lithium-ion 970mAh battery which will give you around 250 hours (~10 days) of standby time on a single charge, and 3/4 hours of talk time on 3G/2G networks, respectively. For a phone like the 6280 these battery estimates are quite acceptable.
Applications like the media player and camera viewfinder will chew up the battery life like no tomorrow. Unless you’re going to be able to charge the handset easily I would refrain from using the camera when battery level is running low.