The new Nokia 6110 Navigator sliderphone is the first GPS-enabled Nokia mobile to offer real out-of-the box satellite navigation.
Not only does it have a built-in GPS aerial, but it also comes supplied with inbuilt voice-prompted navigation, and a smartcard with complete UK and Ireland road maps. You don't even need to put in a SIM for it to start telling you where to go.
The difference between this and previous Nokia satnav GPS-equipped phones - such as the N95 and E90 - is that there's no need to download maps at each location, or pay for a full step-by-direction service. You get everything you need in the box. Rather than using Nokia's own Nokia Maps service, the 6110 Navigator uses Route 66's software and Navteq's mapping in conjunction with the built-in GPS antenna.
It's the ease of use of this approach that we found the most pleasing. It really is like having a standalone GPS device in your pocket. And even though it is powered by Nokia's trusty S60 smartphone platform, you can get the road navigation device fired up by simply pressing the large, central, dedicated button.
We tested the navigation facility extensively during a weekend of driving and walking in central England, and were very impressed with its operation. Even when fired up for the first time, it works out your position within a minute or two.
You can then zoom in and out without any fuss using the * and # keys. Just as with a standalone TomTom in-car system, you can pick your destination using postcode or name, and it finds where you are looking to go to without any difficulty or huge delay.
Instructions are clear and precise - and you get a good amount of customisation options. You can choose to navigate by foot or by car, elect to avoid motorways, have maps displayed in 3D or 2D mode, or change colour schemes.
A reasonable amount of points of interest can also be overlaid over the maps. If you want more - you can pay for a higher level of services, subscribing to traffic alerts, for instance, or downloading alternative voices for the spoken instructions. You can, of course, buy further route maps for other parts of the world.
Note, however, is that maritime charts or OS-style topographical maps are not available, making the device much better suited to the driver than the outdoor adventurer. However, you are free to use other Symbian S60 compatible navigation solutions with the phone's GPS antenna. Whatever software option you go for, however, you will need to buy some form of cradle to hold the screen in a suitable position if you're driving.
Given its route-planning credentials, this is a remarkably compact handset. It tips the scales at 125g, but it is an extremely manageable piece of kit. It offers a full range of cellular radio frequencies to connect you with voice and data services around the world. In addition to quad-band GSM operation and full 3G connectivity, it also offers top-speed video, web and software downloads using HSDPA mobile broadband speeds.
In addition to the range of 3G services that your network may offer you, the phone also has a rather good web browser. A useful facility of this is that you can rotate the screen through 90° to view in landscape mode, taking much better advantage of the QVGA 16-million-colour LCD screen.
When it comes to view emails on the move, users will also be glad to have Quickoffice software onboard, so that you can read Word, Excel and Powerpoint attachments. A PDF viewer is also supplied as standard.
A proficient music player is also part of the onboard software. MP3 playback through the speakerphone is surprisingly loud, capable of very high volumes through the closely-spaced stereo speakers. Quality is not bad either, although tonality does improve if you don't go too heavy on the volume.
Playback through the supplied headset is a okay, but would be a lot better with a decent set of headphones. A 2.5mm socket is included which could be used with an adapter for regular headphones, or a Bluetooth stereo headset would be a sensible additional purchase.
The equaliser, to be fair, does give you a wide range of controls for getting as close to the sound your want as possible. In addition to the usual presets, you can tweak the channel sliders yourself - and add weird reverb or pseudo-surround effects to the playback. An added, and possibly more useful, feature is a built-in FM radio tuner.
There are two built-in cameras. The first is a relatively standard 2 megapixel affair. The maximum resolution falls short of the best cameraphones currently around, and it also lacks any form of focus controls, which means that it is not of any use for close-ups. However, is does have a lens shield, which acts as a simple way to get into the photo mode. It also benefits from a useful flash.
The second camera is a low-resolution affair designed for video conferencing, positioned on the front panel, although you can use it for stills shooting should you choose.
Images taken by the 6110 can be stored on the Micro SD memory card that is supplied with the phone. Although this stores the GPS road maps, there is adequate space for your media files and any other program that you should wish to download for use on the phone. A more capacious card can, of course, also be bought, which would be a particularly sensible option for the music fan.
The 6110 Navigator is a very sensible handset, providing everything that you need from a modern phone. As a smartphone and 3G handset, there is practically nothing that it can't do or be made to handle.
But the killer punch with the 6110 Navigator is the satnav set-up. This is probably the best integration of GPS into a mobile that we have yet seen. You get the full navigation and street-by-street mapping but you still get a phone that looks and handles like a regular phone.
And it is also oh-so affordable. It can be bought SIM-free for around £295. This may sound steep for a competent 3G phone but factor in the cost of the mapping and the onboard GPS system and you have something of a bargain.