The C6 is similar to the N97 mini in many ways. They run on the same operating system, have the same screen size and are powered by 434MHz processors. The differences? The C6 has a marginally larger footprint, supports Flash Lite 3.1 in the web browser, doesn't have Carl Zeiss optics for the camera and uses the 2mm charger connector.
The C6 is a stark reminder of the N97 mini, save that the former doesn't have a tilt screen and is marginally larger. The front fascia is glossy and prone to fingerprint smudges, while the back is made from smooth matte plastic. But what surprised us was how heavy the C6 is (the slider phone tips the scales at 150g). We didn't expect that from a mid-range, mass-market device with plastic as its chief component.
(Credit: CNET Asia)
The C6 is clad in either black or white and you won't find any other colour accents on the handset until you slide out the physical keyboard from under the screen. This is a resistive display, which means you'll need to put a little pressure on the touchscreen before it will register the command. The panel measures 3.2 inches diagonally, supports 16 million colours and has a resolution of 640x360 pixels similar to a number of Nokia devices. The keyboard and directional control pad extend the phone's length considerably, which results in a sizeable gap between the touchscreen and the rectangular Call, End and Menu buttons nestled below.
At the top is where you find a 3.5mm audio jack and micro-USB port. The C6 charges via the 2mm connector found at the bottom edge, and the rim encircling the port lights up in a white glow when connected to a power source. Plugging in the micro-USB cable lets you synchronise with a PC but doesn't juice up the handset. On the right are the volume buttons, keylock and camera shutter, all with decent tactility. At the opposite side is the hot-swappable microSD expansion card slot with support for up to 16GB flash media. Finally, at the back are the on-board speakers and 5-megapixel camera accompanied by an LED flash.
Optimising the home screen to bring useful and relevant content right to the top is one of the yardsticks of a good user interface. On the C6, which is based on the S60 5th Edition platform, there are six place-holders where you can run a gamut of applications and shortcuts. These include time, date, phone profiles, favourite contacts, email headers and application launchers. While it seems like there's a lot going on here, the most useful (and practical) are the ones that let you jump to a program without having to trawl through several layers of menu pages. The visuals look dated because they haven't changed much since the N97. Ticker tape-style mini apps like the ones for Facebook and AP Mobile display too little information to be of use. The same can be said for email headers on the home screen.
It gets worse with the single- and double-tap annoyances. This input method was introduced to maintain compatibility with existing S60 3.x applications. The first tap lets you select, while the subsequent tap executes the command. The user experience here can range from confusion to frustration depending on your tolerance. Given that many competing touchscreen devices offer fluid and logical user interfaces, we're inclined to think the latter. Symbian^3 is supposed to address many of these issues and it can't come soon enough. What we also didn't like were menu options in certain applications which took up precious screen estate and the confusing contextual commands. The latter was especially evident in Ovi Maps.