Review of the Nokia 6061


The Nokia 6061 is a no-nonsense entry-level phone offered by both Fido and 7-11. While it doesnít have the great audio quality of higher-end Nokias, or glitzy features like a camera, or an MP3 player, it still offers solid performance and plenty of power for a reasonable price.

The Nokia 6061 is available on Fido and 7-11.

Last Updated: 07-Oct-2006

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.

RF Performance

RF Sensitivity: This aspect of the phone was tested at Square One shopping mall against a Nokia 6340i and a new Motorola PEBL. Tests were carried out in the traditional Hall of Shame (near the center court), in the new Hall of Shame that connects between the main hall and the underground section running between Zellers and Sears, and at the very back of PJís near the lower entrance to Wal-Mart. In all three locations the 6061 proved to have good RF sensitivity, but not quite as good as the excellent 6340i. It performed about the same as the PEBL.

Over-the-road Performance: After listening to the phone while driving around in areas where Rogers suffers from heavy doses of handoffs (due to a proliferation of sites) I came away very impressed with the 6061. Handoffs were far less common on this phone than on other GSM models and when they did occur they were tamer-sounding than is typical of Nokia. In fact, the 6061 provided over-the-road performance that was the equal of the PEBL, which is high praise because Motorolaís GSM phones generally rule the roost when it comes to this aspect of performance.

Click on this link for a full description of RF Performance, and how to interpret it.

Audio Performance

Tonal Balance: Sadly the 6061 doesnít have that rich sound that is common to most other Nokia models (and is a far cry from the gorgeous-sounding PEBL). The earpiece is decidedly tinny-sounding, but at the same time it doesnít seem to exhibit any annoying harshness or peakiness. In other words, it sounds pretty darned good except for being a bit shallow. In real conversations I found that the earpiece sounded quite good UNLESS it was compared directly to a richer-sounding model.

Sound Reproduction: Despite the tinny tonal balance, the overall sound quality (the ability to accurately reproduce the various nuances of speech) was actually very good. There was quite a bit of hiss at higher volume settings however, but it was more pink noise than white noise, and thus was surprisingly easy to ignore, even in a quiet environment. Just the same, it would be nice if Nokia could manage to get rid of some of this hiss.

Earpiece Volume: In a quiet environment the phone seems a bit faint, but it possesses Nokiaís Volume Boost feature that jacks the volume up when there background noise is present. When I tested the phone outdoors on a noisy street it produced earpiece volume that was virtually equal to that of my Motorola i580 on Telus Mike (which has quite good earpiece volume). Still, I wish that Nokia would just give us more earpiece volume to begin with and forego the volume booth feature.

Outgoing Audio: The outgoing audio was superb. Not only did it sound well-balanced and clean, but the phone also coped exceptionally well with background noise. This seems to be a common attribute of clamshell models and the Nokia is no exception (though oddly the 6126, which I reviewed last month, wasnít anywhere near this good). Even test recordings made on a very noisy street overlooking the traffic on Highway 403 sounded clear and distinct without much of an issue from the traffic noise.

Speakerphone: Like the earpiece, the speakerphone is tinny, only more so. Despite its tinniness however, the small speaker at the top of the phone can produce incredibly loud audio (though it does distort a little at higher volumes). Perhaps because of its tinny quality it can be heard over surprisingly loud background noise. To complement the loud speaker, the microphone manages to blot out the background noise well, while at the same time boosting its sensitivity. I made a test recording on a noisy street holding the phone down at my waist and I could still hear my voice and understand most of the words.

Click on this link for a full description of Audio Performance, and how to interpret it.

Support Features

Ringer Volume: That tinny-sounding speakerphone makes an incredibly good sounder for the ringtones. Subsequently the ringers are louder than on just about any other Nokia phone Iíve tested.

Keypad Design: For the most part I this keypad. For once we have a 4-way cursor key thatís easy to use, even for those with large thumbs. The keys surrounding the 4-way cursor pad are also huge and easy-to-press. The numeric keys are a little small and itís difficult to tell one key from the one next to it, though it is easy to tell one row from the next by feel. So, while I would personally make the numeric keys a bit bigger (and a bit more distinct) if I was designing the phone, the overall keypad execution is very good.

Display: The display is 128 x 160 pixels with a color depth of 16 bits (32,000 colors). While that is rather low-res by todayís standards, itís more than adequate for an entry-level phone. Itís also easy to see in bright sunlight and produces fairly nice color. One could hardly ask for more in a phone in this class. The 6061 does not have an external display however, which is very odd on a clamshell models these days. It means youíll have to open the phone to see whose calling you, but at the same time its one less thing to scratch up.

Conclusions

As an entry-level model the Nokia 6061 is almost the perfect phone. The audio is a bit tinny, but aside from that it provides it users with core functionality thatís almost as good as a high-end phone. There are lots of other surprising features, such as a useable speakerphone, alarm clock, calendar & to-do lists, and MMS messaging. I wouldnít have any problem recommending this phone to those looking for a no-nonsense model.

Yes the 6061 comes off wanting in the audio department compared to the Motorola PEBL, but the 6061 is also a much less expensive phone, especially when purchased on contract. However, its $115 price tag when purchased outright is a tad high for the features offered by this phone, but itís a solid performer thatís hard to beat with anything selling for less.

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