Once again, style has triumphed over substance but if you've got money burning a hole in your pocket and you're after a trophy phone look no further
No expandable memory
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Nokia's premium range has had everyone from city boys to students drooling since the chrome-clad 8810 first hit the shelves five years ago, and its appeal shows no sign of being different with the latest luxury model - the 8600 Luna.
The big question, though, is whether the Nokia 8600 Luna can tackle the style-over-substance argument that's been levelled against some of Nokia's high-end range in the past.
Heading the current luxury line-up, the Nokia 8800 Sirocco represents a step too far financially for most of us - which is where the 8600 Luna comes in. Aimed at aspiring Sirocco owners, the 8600 makes a style statement all of its own with a smoked glass sliding cover and a weightyness that says clearly "I'm expensive".
Despite this, you can actually get your hands on its sleek form for free on some of the higher-usage contracts and online offers, making it a much more agreeable option. On its own however, you can expect to pay around £500 for a SIM-free handset.
Like previous luxury Nokia models, the Luna is largely encased by its stainless steel chassis but has one important difference: the slider is made from semi-opaque smoked glass that leaves the keypad to glow through, rather ethereally. It glides open with a smooth slide-action, and closes with a reassuring click.
Two long loudspeaker grills add to the overall impression of luxury, and little else is allowed to clutter the edges of the handset save for the microUSB port. This is used for the charger, data cable and stereo headset, conveniently ridding the need for extra connections.
Opening the handset reveals a decent-sized keypad, larger than its predecessor and plenty big enough for man-sized digits, although the lower row is a bit close set to the slider for comfort. Nokia users will be immediately familiar with the standard layout of the Series 40 graphic interface and four-way navigational pad, but will have to have fairly good eyesight as the default font is rather small.
Luckily, the 2-inch screen is incredibly clear thanks to the 16-million colour QVGA resolution, so the small print is less of a problem. Users can also choose to make the most of the screen when it's idle by switching on Active Standby to list commonly used features on the standby screen for quick access.
The menu is a fairly straightforward affair in terms of content, and nothing really stands out screaming innovation at you. Nokia has put in a regular 2-megapixel camera, which is pretty much standard issue now for mid-tier phones. Pictures can be taken at resolutions of up to 1600x1200, but the lack of auto focus and any form of flash is a hindrance to their quality.
There are a few camera settings you can tinker with, including white balance and effects, and there's even a night mode. But the inescapable fact is that the lens unit is just not that good, and as a result pictures have a noticeable amount of noise and lack the crispness of other 2-megapixel models.
Light colours tend to appear blown-out in bright conditions, and colours seem washed-out. Video, too, is nothing to write home about at 176x144 pixels resolution.
Another downside to the handset - especially when it comes to multimedia features - is that you can't expand the 128MB internal memory as there's no provision for a memory card. This obviously has an impact on both the number of images and clips you can store, not to mention the Luna's music playing abilities.
Such memory limitations are made all the more frustrating considering that the onboard music player actually offers good sound quality. There's even support for stereo audio streaming via A2DP Bluetooth, so if you're unhappy with the bundled proprietary headset you can go wireless instead.
While the player's interface is simple, users still have the option of stereo widening and there's a range of graphic equaliser presets to adjust your music.
Transferring tracks is easy with the included Nokia PC Suite software (which also allows you to edit and manage your contacts and schedule on your computer) and mass USB support is available for those who prefer to drag and drop.
It's also possible to set the unusual microUSB 2.0 data cable to modem mode so your PC can dial up the internet via your phone. There's no 3G or Wi-Fi on offer though. There is, however, a decent email client on the handset itself, and the more business-oriented should be able to make good use of the standard Nokia array of personal information management features.
Battery-life has sometimes been an issue for Nokia's metallic premium range, as their casing tends to obstruct the signal causing the phone to work harder.
The introduction of glass for the slider has addressed this problem to some degree, although at around two to three days of average use it isn't a patch on the company's more workhorse handsets. Reception, too, could have been better, but call quality was excellent.
If you're looking for a phone to get you noticed, the 8600 Luna is certainly going to turn a few heads. But when it comes to the age-old style versus substance balancing act, this one tend to tip to the side of style. Considering the price tag, you could get a much more fully featured handset at a fraction of the cost, but that would be missing the point.
Like any designer label, style comes at a price.
Ease of use 9
Call quality 8
Total Score: 83%
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