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Nokia 6230 GSM Phone Review




You may like or dislike Nokia products, but there's no denying the fact that their phones are one of the best in the world. 2003 with its fierce competition undermined Nokia's leading position, but just a little. As a leader, the company tries to keep a high profile and to predict the rivals' actions. Besides, Nokia seem to have plenty of its own ideas, fresh and daring, that enable the Finnish company to update its handset lines.




Updating is a useful thing, especially with regard to a popular model. For one thing, the manufacturer continues to benefit from the concept that lives on, for another thing, the customer gets a modified handset with new up-to-date functions. Probably, this is exactly the case with the new Nokia 6230 phone that was announced on October 2003 and appeared early in 2004. This model is, in fact, a more functional version of Nokia 6220. It was not just cosmetically renewed but came through a fundamental upgrade that made Nokia 6230 a quite unique handset even for the company itself.

We shall begin with the phone's design which is stylish and exquisite at a time. Nokia once again managed to play on the classical black-white gamma: its dark, almost black front panel contrasts perfectly with the matted-light back panel. Though you can also come across other colour solutions (Graphite-Pearl White, Chock Grey-Graphite, Clay Red-Graphite, Pearl White), none of them looks too pretentious. Of course, if you're not into classic designs you can use more catchy removable panels. But we wouldn't recommend it because as they say, beauty and sense of proportion go hand-in-hand.




Perhaps you're going to think that the handset is a bit too big 103x44x20 mm) and too heavy (97 g with a standard battery), but that's not true. The thing is that minute phones are becoming history, as compactness should ensure comfort in the first place. 6230 is a phone that combines both qualities. And its body is narrowed at the bottom, which makes it all the more comfortable to use.

The keypad is very handy. All the keys are made as a single unit, but a thin separator between them and their large size make typing quick and effective. The 4-way joystick at the top has good ergonomics, although call and cancel buttons seem to be more handy if changed with the soft keys. However, Nokia fans won't find it inconvenient as their allocation, as well as joystick functions, are the same for all latest Nokia models. Reprogramming, as before, is only possible with the right soft key. And finally, a matted-white backlight lends more charm to the handset.

As for the display, it has changed for the better compared to the model's predecessor. For quite a while, 4096 used to be a sort of magical number for Nokia colour displays, but it's not any more. The TFT display in question supports 65,536 colours and is clearly a very quality one. Some may argue that similar LG or Samsung displays look better, but in our opinion, 6230 is not at all inferior to them. The 128x128 resolution enables to show five text lines (in general mode where letters are 16-pixel tall) and two command lines. Besides, the display is quite large: 32x32 mm with the visible part of 27,3x27,3 mm. The only drawback is that the display image becomes bleak (though legible) in the sun, but this is typical of TFT matrices.




The menu and the user interface have suffered few changes too. This can be accounted for by the fact that Nokia used a modified version of its well-known Series 40 platform (Platform 2.0). Now the customer can arrange the view of the main menu to his own convenience: he can either choose icons (3x3) or lists. It can be said that Nokia has really taken care of its customers. And certainly, the menu contains all the little things to make the interface look individual: icons, wallpapers, animated screensavers, colour schemes, etc..

It is strange that speaking about handsets we often forget to mention phone functions proper, that is, the functions handsets were, in fact, made for. Though they only constitute a tiny part of the whole functional now, they are still primary. In this respect, 6230 is a three-standard (900/1800/1900) GSM phone. It can switch automatically to any needed range and hence, work on either side of the Atlantic. And certainly, the handset has the whole set of standard functions, such as one-touch dialing (up to 9 keys), five-member conference call, 16 voicecall cells, a speaker phone, autodialing, call waiting, etc.




In respect of data transmission 6230 ensures a high-quality traffic in any condition. First of all, it supports the HSCSD technology (not very good for Russia), and besides, GPRS Class 10 (4+1 or 3+2) and the highest-speed EDGE technology. The latter is capable of developing a 236.8 Kbps speed, which is comparable with the third-generation networks. You can also use an older WAP technology. The handset supports WAP browser 2.0 that can work via GPRS, EDGE, or even TCP/IP stack, and the notion of XHTML is no alien to the model.

But this is not all for the phone's communication abilities. It also contains a now habitual IR-port and a standard-to-be Bluetooth. Moreover, 6230 supports SyncML, the most hi-tech content-synchronisation device. Although instead, you may also go another way: with the Pop-Port interface in its traditional place (lower butt-end), you just take a DKU-2 data cable, plug it into the IR-port, connect it to a laptop or a desktop via BlueTooth and voila!... 6230 also has a new Wireless Village function that enables an instant message exchange with the presence function. For example, you know you're going to be busy for several hours and don't want to answer any calls. In this case you set a corresponding profile that is then passed to the so-called Presence server. And all your friends can now see your status, if their phones support this function. So instead of calling you, they'll either text you or wait for the right time to call. The function is fully compatible with Internet-pagers MSN, ICQ, and Yahoo.




Now let's get back to more "routine" functions. Phone book is indispensible, and its functionality is quite wide here. First, it can store up to 300 entries each containing three phone numbers and a text note. If you have far less entries, you can save up to five numbers and four notes for each name. Such distribution is possible due to dynamic memory which has the size of 11.5 MB. Each entry can be supplied with a personal image (or photo) that will be shown during the call. But you can't apply a personal ringtone to an entry — this function is only available in subscribers' groups.

If you arrange your day schedule with the help of the phone organiser, then 6230 will be after your heart. The calendar can show events in both monthly and weekly modes. Memoes can be attached to any day and their size is unlimited. Well, in fact, it is limited to 3000 symbols, but it's difficult to imagine somebody writing such long notes. However, the function has already been used to a different purpose — reading books on the display. All you have to do is to cut the text into appropriate-size pieces and upload them to the handset.

The dictaphone, in our opinion, is very well organised. Records can be as long as three minutes, and their number is only limited by the phone's free memory.




But frankly, memory size is a vague notion in 6230. The handset has a slot for MMC memory cards, that lets you forget about memory shortage for a while. But once again, the slot's location is very inconvenient: it is placed under the accumulator, and you have to switch off the phone when replacing cards. This rather serious disadvantage was explained in one of the European forums. When European manufacturers first came up with the idea to place the slot's connector "outside" the handset so that memory cards could be replaced without switching the phone off, it ended in a failure. Each time another card was inserted, the phone didn't understand it and tried to work on with the contents of the replaced card. So, the conclusion is obvious: developing its Series 40 platform, Nokia didn't want memory cards to be replaced in a dynamic mode. And that is a pity as the number of Japanese handsets with a MiniSD slot grows like a house on fire. Well, maybe European companies will soon come up with a similar solution.

6230 can be referred to as a multimedia device. Using memory cards, you can upload video (3GPP), audio (MP3, AAC), or any other type of multimedia content. Apart from listening to high-quality music in stereo, you can set your favourite melody as a ringtone or an alarm. Besides everything else, 6230 is also an FM tuner and an MP3 player.




But that's still not all: the phone is supplied with a VGA camera. Along with standard options, such as display serving as a viewfinder, three shooting modes (including night-time), three levels of image quality, a 10-second self-timer, and the likes, the handset also provides for videorecording in 3GPP format (H.263 video and AMR audio). By the way, the camera objective is covered with a glass that is an integral part of the removable panel.

Now we'll briefly describe some of the MMS features realised in the model. 6230 (as well as 6600) uses the new SMIL format (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) that can combine text, sounds and images in the order set by the user. Hence, the maximum message size increased to 100 KB. Music abilities in 6230 are also worthy of attention. Twenty polyphonic tones sound quite up to mark (24-tone polyphony), and it is curious that the user can make a ringtone out of any uploaded MIDI or MP3 file, and even set FM tuner as an alarm clock.

The strongest impression of the phone is that ringtones are REALLY loud. It is virtually impossible not to hear a call. In this respect, Nokia 6230 with its good run-down time is ideal for serving as a portable walkman when camping or going to the country.




Also noteworthy is the latest version of Java MIDP 2.0. There are six pre-installed applications, but because of their low utility you can delete them to make room for more effective ones. Application size is limited by 128 KB, which offers a wide range of possibilities. If you're thinking about games, three of them are already installed (Beach Ralley II, Golf, Chess Puzzle), but they are far from revealing all gaming abilities of 6230. The phone won't be made into an N-Gage but at least you can play multi-user games via Bluetooth.

The manufacturers finally managed to lower significantly Bluetooth's energy consumption. At least using it doesn't affect the phone's run-down time so badly. 6230 is supplied with a 850 mAh Li-Ion BL-5C battery, that runs for 3-5 hours in the talk mode and 150-300 hours in the standby mode. In real life the handset worked for more than two days with about 30-40 minutes of talking per day, the BlueTooth module constantly activated, 2-3 hours of Internet surfing (data transmission wasn't very active), and 60-90 minutes of FM listening. Considering a high ringtone volume and a bright colour display, it is an excellent characteristic.

Now let's sum it all up. Compactness, a built-in camera, a 16-bit display, Bluetooth support, a slot for MMC memory cards, three GSM bands, HSCSD, GPRS, EDGE.... 6230's advantages are more than enough to trump its minor shortcomings. Its every aspect, from appearance to software solutions, hints at a certain balance, even harmony. We can call 6230 an appropriate follower of Nokia's glorious traditions.

And to conclude, the handset is due to appear in stores this month. Its approximate retail price is expected to be USD 400.



Andrey Klinaichev (andrey@ixbt.com)

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