Nokia shows once again that a unassuming design can disguise a powerful smartphone
3G with HSDPA
2-megapixel camera and media player
Keypad a touch plasticky
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At first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything very remarkable about Nokia's 6120 Classic. It's a fairly nondescript-looking candybar phone turned out in shiny black plastic offset with metallic trim. It looks like one of the mid-range workhorses that Nokia has always excelled at - solid, reliable, not terribly exciting but still capable of selling in huge quantities.
But look just a little closer and this understated gem might just be one of the best phones the company has produced in ages - a Symbian smartphone for the masses, with tons of mobile know-how packed into its diminutive dimensions, and delivered at a sensible price.
Little effort appears to have been spent on creating a fashion icon handset, though it's available in a choice of black, pearl white, pink and sand gold colourings. The keypad feels a touch plasticky, while the navigation-pad looks functional at best. Functional, however, is the key here - although the 6120 Classic seems to do everything it can to play down its abilities, it can certainly perform where it counts.
The 31 x 41mm screen is beautifully bright and clear, and carries 16 million colours - much more than the human eye can detect, but which reveals a beautifully smooth transition when watching video.
It's a smartphone that runs on the Symbian S60 operating system, familiar from Nokia's more high-end N-series and E-series smartphones, and it offers plenty of scope for adding your own applications.
This is a go-anywhere phone. As well as quad-band GSM connections, it also offers an HSDPA 3G connection. HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) is the latest, fastest variety of 3G and can offer data connections to the internet that are several times faster than standard 3G.
So far it's available in the UK with T-Mobile, Vodafone and, imminently, 3 and no doubt it will join other UK operators' ranges too. There's a full internet browser as well as WAP access on board, and there's a tiny VGA camera on the front for video calling
The VGA camera isn't the main picture-taking tool of course. There's a 2-megapixel version on the back with 4x digital zoom and a proper flash, accessed by a dedicated shutter button on the side. None of Nokia's fancy Carl Zeiss lens partnership here, but it's perfectly good for snaps, which generally came out sharp and clear with very little effort.
The options include a panorama mode which allows you to create wide angle views. You press and hold the shutter button, then move the camera to the left or right and it continues to add images to the original to create a panoramic image. It's clever, if a little clunky in practice, and while it wouldn't pass muster as a useful function for photographers, it is good fun.
The music player is solid without offering anything to make it stand out. It plays all the main audio formats, including MP3, WMA and eAAC Plus and the menu is easy to read and intuitive. There's a very basic five-option equaliser as well as bass boost and stereo widening options, plus a very weird reverb option, which offers a choice of echoey venues for your listening, including 'Alley', 'Bathroom', and 'Underwater' (??!!).
Other handy features include document readers in Quickoffice, so you can view Word, PowerPoint and Excel docs, as well as a PDF reader. It also comes with three games - Marble, City Bloxx (both fairly ingenious Tetris derivatives in different ways) and gambling tutorial Highroller, though you can of course add more Java games.
There's 35MB of memory on board but at least it comes with a 256MB MicroSD memory card (it can handle up to 2GB) so there's plenty of room for videos, pics and music. Transferring files via your PC is easy enough if you drag and drop (and you can use Nokia's PC Suite software), and the USB connection makes transfer fast. The absence of a regular Nokia PopPort connection means it may not fit with standard Nokia car kits. You could use Bluetooth, however.
There's also stereo Bluetooth available for wireless headphones or for transferring files but that's it for wireless connectivity. There's no infrared or Wi-Fi, which would have meant hiking up the price. Nonetheless, the 3G HSDPA connection offers an impressively fast internet connection for browsing and checking emails - albeit one that you have to pay data charges on.
This is a phone that doesn't make any great claims to be fashionable, nor does it have much in the way of fashion-conscious bells or whistles (such as touchscreen or touch sensitive controls, flashing lights or mirrors) to make it stand out. But what it does have, however, is pretty much everything you need from a phone right now.
Business types may need Wi-Fi, but the 6120 Classic will allow you to access the internet quicker than most current 3G phones that don't have Wi-Fi. The 6120 will also let you make video calls, take decent quality pictures, play your music and organise your life.
In short, it's a good, solid Nokia workhorse for 2007, and one that stands a very good chance of becoming the default work and play phone for a great many people - and we'll probably still be seeing them in use for some time. Its combination of good functionality, reliable battery life and quietly understated good looks means it could prove to be a genuine classic.
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