Nokia is no slouch when it comes to designing high-end cell phones, but the company's bread and butter remains simple handsets for making calls. That's where Nokia got its start, and that's where its focus remains for developing markets. The new Nokia 2600 for AT&T fits this mold perfectly. Though it offers a VGA camera and Bluetooth, this handset is all about communication. The design is simple and intuitive and the call quality is serviceable, but the phone's molasses-like menu interface was frustrating. The Nokia 2600 is $150 if you pay full price, but it's free with a service contract.
The 2600 is a standard Nokia candy bar phone that's a salute to minimalism. It is clad in basic black with just an orange ring around the center column of keys to give it some individuality. The lines are straight and clean, but its tapered edges are a nice touch. The 2600 is 4.21 inches long by 1.84 inches wide by 0.79 inch thick and weighs 3.17 ounces. It is compact and portable, but the plastic skin feels rather flimsy.
The display measures 1.5 inches wide and supports 65,000 colors (128x128 pixels). Though that's a low-resolution display when compared with most other current cell phones, it's fitting for such a low-end phone. Graphics and photos aren't sharp, but colors are relatively bright and the screen isn't washed out. What's more, the icon-based menus are intuitive. You can change the standby mode font color and the font size and activate a power-saver mode.
The 2600's navigation array consists of a square silver toggle with a black OK button. Though it is decently sized and raised above the surface of the phone, it's also a bit slippery with a plastic feel. It didn't present us with any problems, though, and you can set the toggle to act as shortcut to four user-defined functions. Two soft keys and the Talk and End/power buttons complete the array. They have a spacious layout as well but they're flush and equally slippery. Also, we'd like a dedicated back key and a camera shortcut.
The keypad buttons are hit and miss. They didn't feel cramped, but they aren't very tactile. Similarly, while we like that the central column of keys is colored in gray, the backlighting could be brighter. We didn't suffer from any misdials, but rapid texting did feel awkward.
Like T-Mobile's recent Nokia 1680, the 2600 doesn't have a dedicated volume rocker, which means you must use the toggle to change the volume level during a call. That's rather inconvenient. On the right spine, you'll find the charger port and a 2.5mm headset jack. The camera lens and mirror rest on the phone's backside above the single speaker.
The 2600 has a tiny, 200-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, a company name and job title, a formal name and nickname, a street address, a birthday, and notes. You can pair contacts with a photo and save them to caller groups, but only groups can be assigned one of the eight polyphonic ringtones.
The 2600 has a solidly low-end feature set, but it does include Bluetooth. There's no stereo profile, which really isn't needed on such a basic phone, but you can use Bluetooth to send files. Other features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a voice recorder, an alarm clock, a calendar, a to-do list, a notepad, a timer, and a stopwatch. You'll also find trial applications for Mobile Banking, WikiMobile, and My-Cast Weather.