Nokia has certainly got itself on the map when it comes to mobile phone satellite navigation. Its line-up of GPS-enabled handsets continues to expand rapidly, while its recently completed megabucks takeover of mapping data company Navteq points clearly to the direction in which it wants its Sat Nav portfolio to go.

The Nokia 6210 Navigator is the successor to last year's 6110 Navigator, and majors on its satellite navigation capabilities, with A-GPS technology inside, plus Nokia Maps mapping software covering the UK and Ireland loaded up on to a supplied 1GB memory card.

Feature-packed

It's a sliderphone model, with a similar design feel and smartphone functionality as Nokia's recent 6220 classic. The 6210 is based on the Symbian S60 smartphone operating system, and is underpinned by high-speed HSDPA 3G connectivity with download speeds rated at up to 3.6Mbps.

Although the 6210 Navigator packs in much of the features and functionality usually seen on Nokia's high-end Nseries models, there's no Wi-Fi on this particular handset.

All the usual audio, video and web-based multimedia functionality you'd expect of an S60 smartphone is included, with a video call camera up front. But the main shooter on the back is a 3.2-megapixel camera – an upgrade to the 6110 Navigator's 2-megapixel snapper, though not as slick as the 6220 classic's Carl Zeiss lens-powered 5-megapixel camera.

Easy to operate

Although it has similar plastic bodywork to the 6220 classic, the 6210 Navigator feels much more substantial in the hand – measuring 103(h) x 49(w) x 14.9(d)mm and weighing a reassuringly hefty 117g. It's got a larger display, a 2.4-inch 16 million-colour QVGA screen on the main body, which is a decent size for mobile phone Sat Nav duties.

Nokia includes its motion sensor accelerometer technology inside this phone, which automatically changes screen orientation between landscape and portrait views in menus and some apps (including the browser and media gallery but not Sat Nav), depending how the phone is being held. It also allows you to reject calls simply by turning the phone face down.

The slider numberpad has large, well spaced buttons that are responsive and easy to press, while the control panel under the display is tidily arranged for fuss-free operation – the navigation D-pad and application Menu key are raised enough from the flush, smooth front panel to make it easy to operate.

Nokia's S60 smartphone user interface is well implemented on the 6210, with no delay as you browse through menus or switch between applications. There are numerous apps to play with, and most of these can be accessed quickly using one of the user-definable shortcut icons at the top of the standby screen.

Satellite navigation

A blue diamond-shaped compass button just below the navigation D-pad activates the 6210 Navigator's headline navigation functionality. Usefully, this key glows blue while the system is on, so you can avoid accidentally running down your battery power with idle GPS in the background.

A quick press, and the Nokia Maps application fires up swiftly. It uses A-GPS (Assisted Global Positioning System) technology, supplementing satellite location finding with mobile network cellsite data to get swift and accurate positioning on onscreen maps.

We found the A-GPS system locked on to satellites very quickly and reliably – it usually took less that 30 seconds (although Nokia says it could take from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on circumstances).

The Nokia Maps user interface is very user-friendly and intuitive. You can search for locations, places of interest, services, businesses, and so on, from a large number of categories. There's even a search facility on the opening screen.

Addtional GPS options

It's easy to plan routes and get them shown onscreen, for pedestrian as well as in-car directions, with 2D, 3D and alternative satellite image views. There's also a useful magnetic compass in the phone to orientate the onscreen view of the map to the direction you're looking in – handy if you're wandering around somewhere you don't know.

Nokia has also included a 6-month licence for its additional Drive and Walk package, which means you get voice-guided turn-by-turn instructions too, just like with an in-car Sat Nav system.

We've found Sat Nav to be an extremely useful feature to have in your phone, especially as it's a device you'd normally carry with you anyway. The Nokia system works very well too, and we were impressed at how smoothly it functions.

You can also choose to download city guides (including the Lonely Planet portfolio), and subscribe to additional services such as traffic information. Nokia Maps can automatically update maps over the air, if you're travelling abroad, though this could incur high data roaming charges; alternatively, additional maps can be downloaded to a PC and transferred across to the phone using supplied Nokia Map Loader software.

Camera quality

Nokia may not have loaded up the 6210 Navigator with its top-of-the-range camera, but the 3.2-megapixel shooter used here– with autofocus system and LED flash - is capable of a taking decent quality images. It captures an acceptably pleasing level of detail for a 3.2-megapixel camerarphone. Close-ups look good too.

It has a reasonable set of settings controls to override the auto metering system, though this generally works well. Colour rendition is usually good, but occasionally we noticed images taken in average light looking a touch washed out. The flash adds a bit more illumination for low-light shots, though not with the power of the 6220 classic's top-grade xenon flash.

Video shooting is at VGA quality – better than average resolution – but at 15 frames per second isn't particularly smooth.

Anyone keen to share their images or video can upload them straight to a supported site – including Flickr, Vox and Nokia's own Ovi service – using a Share online feature. Some basic image editing software is included in the phone too, should you want to do some work on shots or video.

Multimedia prowess

The 6210 Navigator has an extensive set of applications inside, and with its S60 smartphone OS, it's capable of being customised with plenty of other apps (some of which are available via the preloaded Nokia Downloads! tool). Naturally, it has a music player, while a RealPlayer video player and a decent FM radio are built in too.

The music player is standard, easy-to-use S60 fare. It does the job, producing a reasonably good sound through the average earphones supplied in-box. You could upgrade them to better headphones, but you'll need to source a 2.5-to-3.5mm adapter if you want to try your own Bose or Sennheiser earwear, as there's no standard 3.5mm socket on the phone – a shame.

The phone's internal memory provides 120MB of user storage, but you can use the supplied 1GB MicroSD card for racking up tracks. Although it's loaded with Nokia Maps mapping info, it still has around 750MB of free capacity for tunes, images, and so on.

Usefully, the video player has motion sensing autoflip action, so you can watch video content you've downloaded or copied over to the phone in fullscreen landscape mode by turning the phone.

Web-based services

HSDPA connectivity cranks up the data rates for downloading tunes and videos over the air. Getting full tracks from a mobile operator portal, or via the embedded Nokia Music Store browse-and-buy application, is very nippy indeed – it takes just a few seconds.

Browsing too is a satisfyingly hassle-free experience, with webpages rendered reasonably quickly onscreen using the Nokia full web browser. RSS web feeds are supported too. Nokia has added further web-based apps, including its WidSets widgets software, and the Yahoo! Go useful web email, information and services aggregator package.

Nokia S60 phones don't normally skimp on office tools, and the 6210 Navigator is no exception. A generous helping includes the usual calendar, notes, active notes, calculator, clock and convertor functions.

On top of those, there's a dictionary/translator tool and Quickoffice and Adobe PDF document readers for viewing standard format files (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDFs, jpegs) sent to you as email attachments, or which you've loaded up to the phone. It's possible to upgrade these for editing documents as well.

Three reasonable games are included on the phone, one of which – Jelly Chase - uses a bit of motion sensor action.

Draining battery

The nuts and bolts voice calling performance of the 6210 Navigator was absolutely fine, with good quality audio and reliable network holding in a variety of situations. Battery life for a GPS-enabled phone is always going to depend on how intensively you use the Sat Nav, as it can be a power-sapper.

Nokia reckons the 6210 Navigator can manage talktime of 3 to 5 hours between charges, depending on 3G or GSM network coverage, with standby time ranging between 231 to 244 hours. Of course, using other gadgetry, like the music and video player, will affect battery performance too.

In our tests, with average amounts of usage and a small amount of Sat Nav operation, we got around 2 days of battery life out of it.

Top sat nav phone

You may have you look further up the Nokia range if you want a top-class cameraphone experience or have Wi-Fi connectivity, but otherwise the 6210 Navigator delivers much of the extensive 3G, HSDPA-powered smartphone functionality you'd get from an Nseries device like the N78.

Having Sat Nav in your phone is a real bonus, as Nokia understands. Its 6210 Navigator implements its mobile-based location-finding package in an intuitive, user-friendly way that looks good onscreen and which delivers a spot-on performance. The 6210 Navigator is another attractive addition to Nokia's Sat Nav roster.

Network availability: Initially Vodafone exclusive, others TBC

Looks: 4/5
Ease of use: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Call quality: 4.5/5
Value: 4.5/5