Review of the Nokia 6200


The Nokia 6200 is a color display phone with support for EDGE. On paper it looks like a highly desirable phone, but my experience with it left me stone cold. If you already like the 6200, I suggest you avoid reading this review, since youíll find it very disheartening.

Last Updated: 26-Jul-2003

 

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

General

I didnít start out trying to find fault with the 6200, but from the very first call I made with it I realized that I was in the presence of another phone with the same horrible aural qualities as the 7210. Iíll go into the audio quality later, as I prefer to cover other aspects of the phones before I finish off with a discussion of the RF and sound.

In terms of size and shape, it seems to be fairly close the current standard of small Nokia phones. Itís boxy in shape, with only the keypad and screen defining the styling. In that respect, the keypad seems to be the primary styling element, and it is (Iím afraid) a great example of style over substance.

The keys all butt against one another, and there is absolutely no way to feel the end of the one the beginning of another. Tactile feel is therefore almost non-existent, and using the keys accurately requires looking at them. The particular model I had also suffered from keys that felt like theyíd been pressed, but in fact had not. This increased the frustration factor beyond my inability to feel where my fingers were.

The screen is pretty good however, with a bright backlight, and reasonably brilliant colors for a cell phone. I still donít understand why laptop and desktop LCD displays are light years better at rendering colors than the displays on current cell phones. Possibly price is a big issue.

Pixels are sharp, and they provide fonts that are easy to read, even when the font sizes are quite small. The contrast between fully lit and fully dark pixels is excellent, and that further heightens the readability of the display. However, like virtually all color screens (with the notable exception of the 3650), you canít see a thing without the backlight, and the longer you run the backlight, the faster your battery drains. However, this is a given for all color phones.

The polyphonic ringtones are fairly loud, and should be audible in noisy environments so long as you choose one that has loud qualities. Nokia provides a number of polyphonic rings that mimic the monophonic rings found on earlier models.

The menus are pure Nokia, and I donít need to say anything further on that subject. While there are a few people that Iíve spoken with that donít like the Nokia Way, most people will agree that itís among the best out there. The color screen makes the menus look nicer than on black & white Nokias, but it doesnít really increase the functionality in any way.

As Iíve covered Nokia menus and feature to death in other reviews, suffice it to say that the 6200 is just as capable in terms of the standard functionality as any other Nokia phone on the market.

Where the 6200 is most likely to attract attention is in its support of Multimedia files and data transfers. You can use the 6200 to send photographs and MIDI files in messages to other phones capable of displaying or playing such attachments. You can also send these files to computer users by attaching them to e-mail messages (and receive such attachments in e-mail).

The 6200 doesnít come with a built-in camera, but Nokia sells a camera headset (basically a stereo earbud with a camera built into a small bud part way down the cable). This allows the 6200 to be used like a camera phone, but unfortunately without the benefit of having a unified device.

For sending and receiving data the 6200 supports EDGE, which is the next step above GPRS. For the time being however, I am not aware of any North American GSM providers that support EDGE, though that will be coming in the future. Donít get to exciting about it though, since based on Nokiaís own claims, EDGE only approximately doubles transmission speed over that of GPRS.

The 6200 also includes a built-in FM radio, like the 7210. I didnít have a chance to try this out, since I didnít have a headset with the correct connector. The 6200 does not include a 2.5 mm headset jack, which means you must buy a headset that has the multi-pin connector found on the bottom of the phone. However, based on my experience with the FM radio in the 7210, it would be my guess that itís one of the phoneís better features.

The 6200 also supports J2ME (Java) applets, which can make full use of the color display and GRPS/EDGE data connections. This makes the phone an excellent choice for people who are primarily interested in data usage.

RF Performance and Audio Quality

When it comes to cutting it as a phone however, I rank the 6200 among the worst GSM models Iíve ever tested. The sound quality is distorted (in a fuzzy sort of way like the 7210) and tinny, and the earpiece volume is pathetic. If it werenít for the automatic volume boost feature (found on most Nokia phones) it would be impossible to hear this thing in a noisy environment. Outgoing sound quality is quite good though.

RF performance isnít bad, but in weak signal conditions the 6200 couldnít quite match my 6310i. In areas where the 6200 lost the signal completely (during a call, and while idling) the 6310i could still place a reasonably stable call. By no means does this imply that the 6200 has horrible RF sensitivity, only that it was inferior to my 6310i.

In real world testing the 6200 came off much worse unfortunately. While Bancroft Drive has mostly been fixed by the installation of a new Microcell Connexions site last year, it can still demonstrate the inability of a poor phone to handle adverse conditions. I took the 6200 along Bancroft, and I had lots of trouble with broken audio and an apparent inability to find the right site. No matter how often I tried, the phone would behave the same way. When the 6310i was taken along the same route, it behaved almost faultlessly.

Of course, as always, this might have meant that I had a defective phone, but I had no way of proving that, since the person who lent me the phone brought it up from the US, and only had the one.

So based on my testing of this specific model, the 6200 is a poor choice for someone looking first and foremost for a quality PHONE. As a TOY however, the 6200 fairs much better, as it includes many of the desirable features that make it a fun device to play with, so long as phone functionality is just a minor concern. Personally however, I would recommend that you go with a Series 60 phone like the 3650, which is both an excellent TOY and an excellent PHONE.

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