When it comes to mobiles there are the haves and the have-nots.
The Nokia 6600 Slide definitely belongs to the latter category – but with its rather stunning looks, it doesn't really care. Not for the 6600 the likes of HSDPA and push email.
No, this is a more simple beast that harks back to a time when phones fitted in your pocket and looking good was the name of the game.
Shiny, black and with a flash of metallic blue around the D-pad, the 6600 Slide is one of those handsets you just love to roll around in your hand.
Whether it's reassuringly heavy or unnecessarily brick-like depends on your point of view: lets just say it'll do nothing for the lines of your trousers but will survive a few knocks. The slide action is also incredibly smooth, complementing the build quality.
Push the handset open and you reveal a generous keypad, although the top row is a little too close to the screen for comfortable texting or dialling numbers that happen to incorporate 1, 2 or 3. There's the usual Nokia D-pad for navigation on the front, just beneath the screen, flanked by two rockers with hot keys and call/end buttons. These are practically flat, but a hit-and-hope technique works surprisingly well.
The interface itself is a familiar Series 40 affair, with Active Standby on hand to offer quick access to features. A carousel of user-configurable icons appears at the top, with options for other features and summaries below – all providing glowing examples of Nokia's famed ease of use.
Behind the mirror-like 2.2in screen lays an accelerometer that enables a quirky tap function: tap twice and the phone vibrates and shows a large digital clock; tap while receiving a call and you'll mute the ring.
Well, we say 'tap' but in practice it was more of an agitated jab. Of course, muting the ring is handy if you want to silence your mobile without your caller thinking you've binned them off, but by the time you've successfully activated the accelerometer they've probably rung off anyway.
As a Series 40 handset, the 6600 Slide doesn't come with the smartphone power – or feature-set – of its Symbian S60 stable-mates. There's still a good smattering of key features though, most of which are handled in Nokia's usual reliable fashion.
When it comes to web browsing, the handset is not exactly optimised for viewing web pages due to the screen's proportions. That said, it's not just going to roll over and proves as much by coming with the Opera Mini web browser pre-installed.
With 3G, web surfing should be fairly speedy but we found it to be a relatively laboured process. Things improved using the more streamlined Opera Mini, but in general the 6600 Slide isn't the quickest off the mark.
Underwhelming multimedia features
The Fins have made a name for themselves by packing quality optics into leading handsets, and while the 6600 Slide won't trouble those higher up the tree its 3.2-megapixel camera is proficient nonetheless.
A powerful dual LED means low-light scenarios aren't off limits, and the autofocus helps keep things clear. The handset also makes a decent stab at video (for a mobile), recording either VGA at 15fps or QVGA at 30fps.
We should also mention at this juncture that there is a second camera for video calls, but as the technology is about as popular as Guy Ritchie in Madonna's household we'll leave it at that.
All of which leads us seamlessly to the music player. The 6600 Slide comes with Nokia's standard player, with everything kept clean and organised – if not particularly inspiring. There's also an FM radio for fans of the old-fashioned wireless.
Unsurprisingly there's still no 3.5mm jack, but a microUSB is on hand for both transfer and charging duties.
Leading the way
One surprise bonus chanced upon in the menu is the presence of Nokia Maps.
There's no GPS onboard, so you' need to invest in the optional Nokia Bluetooth GPS Module to give you pinpoint positionings. You can, however, get directions and search for maps using postcodes.
Another highlight of the 6600's added extras is the Flickr app, which complements the 3.2-megapixel camera and allows you to upload photos straight to your account. Aside from this there is Flickr's benefactor Yahoo! Go and the usual host of organizer functions and tools to get you through day-to-day life.
Ultimately, you know where you are with a Nokia and the 6600 Slide ticks all the standard Nokia boxes.
Call quality is excellent, with the metal casing proving no obstacle to securing a strong 3G signal in most areas. Battery life, too, is healthy and you're unlikely to find yourself caught short over a few days' use.
For those who like their phones to be phones with a little added support for multimedia dabbling, the 6600 Slide is a perfect fit.
Great looks combined with solid build quality and performance make it an attractive proposition – just don't expect too much by way of added extras.
Network availability: 3, Orange, O2, T-Mobile
Ease of use: 4/5
Call quality: 4.5/5