The Nokia 6125 might not have launched with the fanfare afforded to the company's latest N-series handsets, but this compact clamshell is another in an ever-growing range of unfussy practical mobiles.

It isn't a 3G handset, it doesn't offer video calling, and it isn't pencil-slim. Instead, it's a clutter-free mobile designed for those who want good messaging and call options, plus a few essential multimedia applications, such as a megapixel camera and MP3 playback.

The handset, finished in black, aluminium and silver, has very few external controls, so first impressions are of a simple and clean product.

There is a good-quality 1.4in, 65k-colour screen (96x65 pixels) at the front, which displays a wide range of information such as incoming calls, text alerts, and time-and-date options which can be customised to present info in a way that suits you.

Features

Above the external display is the lens for the camera. Cleverly, this can be used for self-portraits when the clamshell is closed. Fold out the handset and you'll be able to use the 1.8in colour, 262k (128x160 pixels) main display for framing other shots.

Opening out the clamshell reveals an intuitive and easy-to-use keypad with large, well-spaced buttons that's great for messaging. Menu browsing is also effortless, due to a combination of a four-way navigation pad and selection keys.

If you're looking at features that will sell the Nokia 6125, its camera and music player are the headliners here. It's an intriguing blend of applications on a device of this kind, in that while they don't quite have the excitement or value associated with more sophisticated handsets or 3G models, they still add some versatility.

In order to get the most out of the camera and music player you'll need to invest in a sizeable microSD card. The 6125 has an 11MB internal memory, which means it won't take a lot of downloads to fill it.

The microSD card fits into a slot on the right side of the 6125, making it hot-swappable - in other words, you can insert and remove cards without having to take out the battery or switch the phone off.

The 1.3-megapixel camera is towards the lower end of resolutions available at the moment; it's pretty much what we've come to expect of all but the lowliest of new budget handsets. Users can select from High, Normal or Basic image settings, and can choose to shoot at 1280x1024, 800x600, 640x480 and 320x240 resolutions.

The handset doesn't feature exposure settings or any form of fl ash, but it does incorporate an 8x digital zoom. We found this to be easy-to-use while shooting, and surprisingly smooth. Even at the maximum resolution, our digital stills still look grainy at times and colour reproduction isn't as accurate as it could be.

Video clips

Video clips can be stored, too, though there is a significant drop in image quality. Settings of High, Normal and Basic are again available, and there are two resolution options: 176x144 and 128x96. The first of these shoots at a frame-rate of 15fps (frames per second).

We found this provided relatively smooth and stable video, for a mobile, while also keeping fi le sizes at a decent level.

The 6125 offers compatibility with a wide range of music fi les (including MP3, MP4, WMA and AAC), so you shouldn't find any problems getting your favourite tunes on there. Sound quality isn't bad either, with a reasonable bass response to boot. Nokia has kitted out the 6125 with a flight mode too - increasingly common on music playing mobiles - which means you can listen to your tracks in the air with the phone part disengaged while you're travelling.

There are several ways to get music on your 6125. You can transfer songs using Bluetooth, via the memory card, or import them from a Windows PC. The handset isn't supplied with a USB cable, though it does feature a USB 1.1 Pop-port interface, so you'll have to buy a cable if you want to import tracks this way.

What is very welcome is the inclusion of a stereo FM radio in the spec, offering free music or other entertainment whenever you want it. It's a decent extra to find, and you could discover it's one of your most used entertainment functions. Nokia's Visual Radio function is also included.

The mobile is equipped with a Wap 2.0 browser so you can search the mobile web, add to the range of ringtones, and download extra content to the handset. You can also bookmark favourite sites and quickly re-visit the last web address you were on.

Quad-band

Back to more conventional phone functions and this quad-band handset still has enough to offer, including the usual array of calendar, calculator, world clock, stopwatch etc. It features MMS and SMS messaging, as well as an email application that enables users to send and read email, and to save and delete email on a compatible (Windows) PC.

Three games are pre-installed - Backgammon, Golf Tour and Rally 3D - which are very different selections, but good quality for freebies.

Rounding out this diverse range of features is the inclusion of Push-To-Talk (PTT) - a two-way walkie-talkie style service that's big in the States but only provided in the UK on a limited basis by Orange, so not particularly handy on these shores.

Performance

Starting with a full charge, we got around three days running time from the phone, having made good use of its functions (including over half-an-hour of calls, listening to audio tracks and playing the FM radio, plus a bit of gaming). That made for a reasonably good performance under real-life network conditions.

Call quality is very good, with few glitches and a generally pleasant tone. However, there was an overly bassy sound on callers' voices, which left some calls sounding 'muddy' or undefined. That said, callers confirm the tonal quality from the handset for them is excellent.

The 6125 is a tidy handset that avoids the spectacular but does a great job with a decent spread of features. Taken in isolation, though, the 6125 is an easy-to-use handset with interesting and useful functions, and comes replete with Nokia's mark of quality. Defi nitely worth investigating if you're after a practical handset. Robert Hull

Camera: A 1.3-megapixel camera is perched on the outside of the clamshell, above the external display

Keypad: The 6125 goes for simple and effective; large squarish keys make for straightforward texting

Memory card slot: Usefully, the 6125's card slot is hot-swappable, tucked away on the right-hand side of the handset

External display: You can see who's calling, what track's playing, or use it as a viewfinder for self-portraits