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First look at Nokia 6650 Fold, S60-based clamshell
Live images of the Nokia 6650 Fold
It's not a secret that Nokia use every tool in their arsenal to prolong lifecycles of their phones. Now that the exclusive contract for the Nokia 6650 Fold with T-Mobile has expired, they are bringing the phone to other regions as well. This model debuted on March 8th, 2008, while its sales officially started in May, and now, a year later, it's set to land on a variety of new markets, with more color schemes and without T-Mobile's user interface. But does it stand a chance?
On the one hand, over the past year phones have really changed from a technical standpoint - a 2 MP camera is no longer sufficient and the lack of WiFi seems odd. However Nokia are yet to release a replacement for the N76, which is positioned as a fashion-savvy solution, rather than a mobile powerhouse. Indeed, all related materials put great emphasis on its design and the element of fashion in it, while functionality is kept off the stage since on this front it's much weaker than any other contemporary S60-based smartphone.
Realizing how weak this offering is, Nokia will go for the same scheme as with the Nokia 6555 that came to Europe from the US market - small shipment volumes and a price tag that is twice heavier than it should be. Back when it was a carrier-backed phone, the 6650 Fold was offered for free on a contract, its second wave will see it retail for 300 Euro or so, which automatically makes it noncompetitive until the end of its lifecycle. One thing of note, however, is that while the 6555 wasn't a top performing product either, Nokia never tried to make it one, since they were pretty content with the sales it managed to generate, and I believe the same will hold true for the 6650 Fold.
The 6650 Fold is a standard Nokia fare - a bit on the thicker side, which makes it a tad less attractive and apparently less dazzling than the Nokia N76, although its red color scheme still looks interesting. Like we said, Nokia are brining new trims for this edition - instead of silver, we'll get red and black versions of the phone (which isn't something groundbreaking, but still better than nothing).
The phone measures up at 99.7x47.3x16.2 mm and tips our scales at 112 grams, meaning that it's not very petite, but part of the reason for that are its metallic front fascia and back cover. The 6650 Fold feels very sturdy in the hand, its halves seem to be quite solid, and there is no hint of looseness at all. Also, the material the casing is made of deserves a special credit, as it didn't pick up many scratches and scuffs during our quality time with the phone; but we still have a small niggle with it - the outer display gets smudgy in no time. Speaking of which, it has three touch-sensitive keys with varying backlight colors right below its surface.
Housed on the right is the microSD memory card slot, allowing the user to swap cards on the go, as well as the 2 mm audio jack and charger socket. On the left there is the volume rocker along with the microUSB slot covered by a plastic flap.
The handset comes equipped with 2.2-inch QVGA display (240x320 pixels, 31x42 mm), capable of 16 million colors; although its picture is on the dimmer side, and also it tends to get washed out under direct sunlight. Essentially, this is our only niggle with this screen - we wish it was a fair bit brighter, although you'll hardly notice this drawback while indoors. The display can accommodate up 8 text and 3 service lines, although in some modes there can be as many as 14 lines of text.
The 6650 Fold sports a typical keypad design for Nokia's clamshells - metal slab that isn't very responsive at that, however this is made up for by pretty large buttons. All in all, as far as keypad ergonomics go, the phone is nothing to write home about. Its buttons are evenly lit in white. There is an extra feature allowing the user to alter the keypad backlight color (red, purple, green or blue), which is a classy touch.
The handset utilizes a 1500 mAh Li-Pol battery (BP-4L), as opposed to the Nokia N76's 700 mAh cell. The 6650 Fold is rated for 6 hours of talk time and 15 days of standby. As Nokia claims, its music playback time is just shy of 18 hours.
The handset's battery life averaged 3 days in our tests, when we used the 6650 Fold for about two hours of calls, a dozen or two snaps, several minutes of video, and around an hour of music/radio. It takes the 6650 Fold around 1.5 hours to charge from empty to full.
Below is our chart of battery times we managed to squeeze out of the 6650 Fold:
The device comes equipped with 64 Mb of RAM, after first launch you will get around 20 Mb of free memory at your disposal, which is enough for running several applications and browsing "heavy" web-pages, however the 6650 Fold is inferior to other Nokia-branded offerings on this front. The user gets almost 30 Mb of storage at his disposal, where any data can be stored.
The 6650 Fold deals with microSD memory cards (hot-swappable), the phone comes packaged with a 1Gb unit. There are no restrictions as far as memory card's size is concerned - our handset easily identified a 8Gb card.
USB. You can pick one of these 3 connection modes in the USB settings of the 6650 Fold:
Data transfer speeds top out at around 1 Mb/s. While connected to a PC via USB the phone recharges itself.
Bluetooth. The phone comes with Bluetooth v2.0, with support for EDR. The following profiles are supported:
The top speed you can get with the 6650 Fold's Bluetooth connection is around 100 Kb/s. We also tested its A2DP profile in pair with the Sony Ericsson DS970 headset, which worked just fine - we managed our play list, skipped within tracks and adjusted volume seamlessly, however we couldn't make current track's title show up on the headset's display.
Just like many S60-powered devices, the 6650 Fold houses a 2 Mpix CMOS-camera manufactured by Toshiba. But unless you are in great lighting conditions, the shots will keep coming out noisy and blurry and regrettably the LED flash here can't save the day.
Using the settings you can pick one of the following image resolutions - 1600x1200, 1152x764, 640x480 and 320x240 pixels. Picture quality settings vary from High to Basic, with Normal as a happy medium. Such shooting modes as single shot, multi-shot, self-timer (10, 20 or 30 seconds) are also available. You can make use of the night mode, white balance settings (Sunny, Incandescent, Fluorescent). Sepia, Black&White, Negative overlays will help you to alter color settings. As it was mentioned above the 6650 Fold utilizes LED flash technology. Digital Zoom can be activated by pressing the navigation key, but in the end you won't be happy with it, as the bundled editor gives you an opportunity to zoom in on pictures with better results.
The 6650 Fold records video in quite mediocre quality. The 320x240, 176x144 and 128x96 pixels resolutions at 15 FPS are available, the 6650 Fold saves all clips in .3GP files, and some of them may have the sound turned off - it's up to you to decide. As for the time limits, they are non-existent now, except for the MMS-mode.
You can learn more about the phone's standard feature pack here:
The only thing left to add is that this edition Nokia 6650 doesn't have a trace left of T-Mobile's branding, neither in its menu, nor in its application pool.
Ever since their first clamshell-styled phone Nokia have been trying to squeeze the maximum from the outer display. The 6650 Fold, much like the 6290/N76, features a 22x28 mm (1.36") external TFT screen with a resolution of 128x160 pixels and capable of 262 K colors. It remains readable under direct sunlight and can accommodate up to 6 text and 2 service lines.
At the standby screen you can see all service indicators along with current time and the Menu icon. The middle button acts as a shortcut to the application list, topped by the music player by default: pressing the left key selects playlists grouped by artist and genre. To navigate through the list you'll need to use the side-mounted volume control key, which is quite intuitive and probably won't cause any hardships.
But that's not all. With a long press of the left soft-key the phone starts reading out all messages you have, while the pushing the button on the right actives voice dialing (which requires a plugged in headset, as with the microphone inside it is impossible to dial numbers due to the clam being closed).
The list of missed calls can be checked without the bother of flipping the phone open. Also, it is quite pleasant that the external screen may be used for looking through text messages as well. Should the message contain any attachments, the device will offer you to flip it open. As for functions you use countless times every day, the handset handles most of them even with the flop closed.
With the help of the phone's settings you can modify brightness and dress up the external screen in any way you like (making it vibrant and smooth with some snazzy wallpapers or animation, for instance). It is worth mentioning that while setting up the picture you can easily crop it. The device itself suggests you how to make the picture fit in the display. While in standby mode the screen dims and falls into power-saving mode. Also, the settings enable you to set the digital watch as the phone's screensaver - if that's the case they will be on the screen all the time.
On top of that you can call up Calendar, Stopwatch and Countdown Timer on the 6650 Fold's outer display.
Call quality was never an issue with the 6650 Fold, as it easily lived up to our expectations of a Nokia-branded phone. Ring tones sounded quite loud; we also found the 6650’s vibro alert was average strength-wise.
As far as the 6650 Fold's strengths go, we can't overlook its design as well as the fact that there are simply no alternatives to it, if it's an S60-based folder-type phone you are looking for. And while the presence of GPS won't make much of a difference for its target audience, the lack of WiFi and a sub-par camera will be viewed as critical drawbacks. The 6650 Fold's primary focus lies in its calling features, rather than multimedia functionality and connectivity - it won't make a sound music phone either, since it doesn't have too many things going for it on this front (no dedicated sound processor, for example). The Nokia 6650 Fold made sense when it was backed by T-Mobile, but now when it's been set free, turns out it doesn't hold as much weight anymore. The phone is set to land in most regions in early May at a price point of 300 Euro, which is way too much for what you get under its hood. On the other hand, it'll manage to stay afloat thanks to people who don't know much about mobile phones or those who'll like its snazzy looks.
Published 01 May 2009
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