There's a reason why Nokia is one of the market leaders in the mobile phone business - and it has nothing to do with that all-too-familiar ringtone. As well as producing some of the best cutting-edge mobile phones on the market - including fantastic super-speedy 3G multimedia models - Nokia manages to keep in touch with customers watching their cash by covering all bases with a selection of solid yet popular budget phones.
The latest entry-level phone to slide into the market, without all the fanfare of the high-end N series or business E series, is the Nokia 6070. Compared to some of Nokia's recent offerings it's a fairly basic model, but at just £70 on pre-pay it's aimed at those looking for a good deal who want something solid and reliable.
With a great deal of competition at the budget end of the mobile market, the 6070 is not likely to sweep all before it, but practical, useful features coupled with its no-nonsense styling - and the Nokia brand of course - will make sure it attracts a good number of entry level buyers.
With its simple, rather blocky styling, the 6070 wins no prizes for head-turning design, and it's not likely to garner you admiring glances. But on the other hand, you don't need a degree in order to fathom out how it works. There's a decent sized 65,536 colour, 128x160 pixel CSTN screen, which is large enough to be able to view messages and menus easily, while the chrome and black casing gives it a modern, if understated, feel.
Arranged in a standard no-gimmicks pattern, the keys are a decent size which makes it easy enough to dial numbers and send text messages. A silver ring around a square central rocker pad offers a quick access option for navigation (pressing top, sides or bottom acts as a shortcut to various features, which can be defi ned by the user); the central pad within this square is used to select options. All of which is very straightforward.
On the rear of the 6070 is the camera lens, plus a small mirrored square which makes it easier to frame yourself if you're taking a self-portrait. Here's where you can spot the budget phone: the camera is a basic VGA affair with a top resolution of just 640x480 pixels. In terms of creative features, the 6070 doesn't boast many - there's a 10 second self-timer, an image sequencer which allows you to take fi ve shots in continuous motion, (although you can't actually see what you're shooting at the time) and night mode.
You can also shoot short videos, too. The quality of the screen isn't fantastic either, so you can't really appreciate the shots until you download them to a PC, and it also makes it difficult to actually see what you're shooting in any great detail. Photos aren't therefore a strong point.
The email client is something that users might find a bit more useful, however. Once you've downloaded the settings from the internet, you can send and receive emails from most web-based email accounts, which is really handy when you're on the move. You can also access Wap sites through the phone's browser, and sites are pretty quick to download.
The 6070 supports flash messaging - you can send a text message which is instantly displayed on the recipient's phone if compatible, while audio messages can also be sent via Nokia Xpress audio messaging. It's a bit like leaving a message on someone's answerphone, yet it's a lot quicker - and cheaper - for the recipient to access.
Being a basic model, simplicity and ease of use is the key for the 6070. Making calls is really easy using voice dialling - you can make a phone call simply by saying a voice tag that's added to a phone number after holding the volume down key, while you can add numbers to the speed dial facility.
For fun, the 6070 features three games: Canal Control, which involves building the longest pipe you can before the water reaches the end (which is actually more fun than it sounds), Golf Tour, great if you like golf, and Snake EX2, the usual snake-eating game. Java games can also be downloaded.
There's also a handy FM radio - you simply plug in the headphones which act as an antenna, and search for your station. Only one earphone is provided, but in any case, reception is great.
There's also a five minute voice recorder, as well as some regular organiser features such as calendar (which can be synchronised with your PC using infrared or a data cable which you need to purchase separately), to-do list, notes, calculator, stopwatch, countdown timer and alarm clock. Applications are basic - you get a converter app plus a world clock.
The phone can be customised with a number of different themes and ringtones, and there are 16 different tones to choose from. In addition, there's plenty of clip-art to add to messages, together with logos, frames, wallpapers and screensavers to give your mobile an individual touch. Connectivity is offered via infrared , though there's no Bluetooth on this particular model.
Although rather clunkier than some of the more sophisticated phones we've tested, the 6070 does the basics well. The menu system is fine, and it's easy enough to find everything you're after. The LCD screen rather lets it down, however, we found the quality to be fairly poor when using the camera, and it actually made it quite difficult to frame up pictures because of that lack of detail presented onscreen.
Call quality was crisp and clear, and the reception consistently good throughout our tests. The battery life came in at the expected target after making a number of calls, videos and taking pictures, while standby offers up to 300 hours before you'll need to recharge.
As far as price is concerned, the 6070 offers most things that an entry-level user might want without springing many surprises. It's hardly the most sophisticated phone Nokia has to offer, but it's easy to use and doesn't require a great deal of brain power to get up and running. If you're looking for something cheap and cheerful, but also reliable and simple to use, it could be on your list. Tracey Smith