Review of the Nokia 6126


This a new Nokia clamshell phone offered to Canadians through Fido. Nokia hasnít really started to make clamshell phones until just recently, but the 6126 proves that they got the right idea right away. The model I tested was provided courtesy of TelecomZombie (thatís his HowardForums name).

The Nokia 6126 is available on Fido.

Last Updated: 19-Sep-2006

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

RF Performance

RF Sensitivity: I was able to test the RF capabilities of the 6126 against the recently-tested Nokia E50 and it proved that once again, Nokia knows how to build GSM phones that can pull in weak signals. However, you have to be very careful how you hold the phone, because the internal antenna is very sensitive to body parts coming in close contact with it. The antenna (according to the manual) is located in the bottom of the keypad section, which means that you must hold the phone at the hinge and put your fingers on the upper section at all times.

If I might editorialize here for a moment, I think that this internal antenna business has become a huge annoyance. Just for the sake of getting rid of the little antenna bulge at the top of the phone, we now have to hold them in unnatural ways that can be both a pain-in-the-neck and an RF issue if we arenít cognizant of how we are holding it. So, a thumbs up to Nokia for giving us excellent RF sensitivity, but thumbs down to them for making us hold the phone in ways we may not choose to.

Over-the-road Performance: I found that the 6126 handed off and handled network issues about the same as virtually every other half-decent Nokia ever made. This is one area where Nokia has remained consistent, but perhaps to their detriment. While I wouldnít say that Nokiaís have poor over-the-road performance (because they donít), I believe that they could have worked on improving this over the years (but they havenít).

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

Audio Performance

Tonal Balance: In a word, excellent. Okay, maybe not the best Iíve ever heard, but certainly in the top 5. There is a nice mix of highs and lows with very little peakiness or harshness.

Sound Reproduction: Also excellent, but with a just a tad too much hiss. This one area where virtually all Nokia phones excel, with a few notable exceptions such as the 7210 and the 6200. It's been a few years since I've tested a poor-sounding Nokia, so perhaps they've rid their lineup of all such models.

Outgoing sound quality is a mixed bag however. In a perfectly quiet environment the quality is very good, but once you have some background around you the quality drops off very rapidly. I tried making test recordings in my car with the window down on the highway and the results were extremely disappointing. Not only was the background noise overbearing, but the general sound quality of the audio was affected too.

Earpiece Volume: Not bad, but Nokia always seems to fall a little short in this regard. Fortunately the 6126 processes Nokiaís excellent volume boost feature, which increased the loudness of the earpiece when it senses a noisy background. That means you wonít suffer from lame earpiece volume when you try to use the phone in such places as a noisy vehicle, a crowded mall, or a busy street.

Speakerphone: Nokia has been all over the map when it comes to speakerphone quality, but Iím happy to report that the 6126 is one of their better implementations. The tiny little sounder does a surprisingly good job of generating a decent volume level with passable tonal quality. You can certainly use the speakerphone feature to carry on real conversations without any difficulty.

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

Support Features

Ringer Volume: The ringer uses the same high-performance sounder as the speakerphone and as such the 6126 has a very loud ringer. By selecting an appropriate ringtone you can hear this little phone ring in just about any environment.

Keypad Design: Hereís another area where Iíve been critical of Nokia in the past, but this time they got it right. In fact, they did a better job that most clamshell phones by using up every little bit space they could to provide big friendly keys that were easy to find (without looking at them), easy to press, and accurate. Kudos for this design.

Display: Once again, Nokia have gone out of their way to use up the real estate in as effective a way as possible. The 6126 has a positively huge 240 x 320 pixel color display with 24-bit color depth (16.7 million colors) that looks gorgeous. It could do with being a bit brighter, but aside from that itís one of the nicest clamshell displays Iíve tested in quite some time.

The phone also has a color external display with a resolution of 128 x 160 pixels. There are phones that canít even boast that kind of resolution on the main displays. The quality of that outer display is low compared to that of the inside display, but it serves it purpose very well. It even displays what the camera sees for doing self-portraits.

External Memory: The phone uses MicroSD cards to provide addition memory for photos and MP3 files. Presently MicroSD cards are available up to 1 GB, but there is a SanDisk 2 GB card presently available exclusively through a US provider. Once they become readily available they might work on the 6126, depending upon whether Nokia correctly implemented the interface. Apparently a number of other phones that use MicroSD cards can only ďseeĒ up to 1 GB.

Battery Life: I don't normally get a chance to test battery life, and even though I didn't have the 6126 in my possession for long, it aptly demonstrated how generally poor the charge life is. After I'd first received the phone I full charged it overnight, but within about 3 days the battery had dropped to only 1 bar and the total amount of usage hadn't been all that great. For those of us who charge their phones each night, this isn't really an issue, but users who require that their phones can operated solely upon batteries for prolonged periods of time, or with heavy use, may find the standard batter in the 6126 a bit weak.

Icing on the Cake

Camera: The 6126 includes a 1.3 megapixel camera, but sadly it has the same major problem as all of the other Nokia cameras Iíve tested. It has way too much digital noise in darkly-lit areas (even in dark areas of well-lit pictures). This makes it impossible to adjust the shadows and highlights using photo-processing software such as Photoshop without bringing out the noise. On the other hand, it has excellent color clarity and at the highest quality setting it uses low-enough JPEG compression to actually produce some very sharp-looking images.

Unlike most cameras, the 6126 defaults to portrait mode (when the phone is held upright). This is because they fill the entire 240 x 320 screen with the ďviewfinderĒ image, rather than providing a small image that uses up only a small percentage of the screen (like most other phones). This viewfinder is certainly a great feature, but youíll end up taking a large percentage of portrait pictures rather than landscape pictures like everyone else (unless, of course, you get used to holding the phone sideways).

Conclusions

While this might not be the perfect GSM phone, I can find very little to complain about, with the exception of the outgoing sound quality in noisy environments and lackluster battery life. If I were looking to switch back to GSM Iíd certainly put this phone at the top of my candidate list. I even like the overall styling, both inside and out, especially the way the top of the clamshell is actually shorter than the bottom. They blend the two halves together in a very elegant manner.

The phone is a tad expensive if bought without a contract, but you get a really top-notch phone that includes all sorts of goodies, such as Bluetooth, an MP3 player (that will play MP3, MP4, eAAC+, & WMA formats), a 1.3-megapixel camera, a huge display, and Class-10 EDGE connectivity.
 

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