Not every good phone finds a carrier willing to adopt it. Fortunately for Nokia,stepped in to offer the Nokia 6133. The 6133 is practically a carbon copy of the 6126, except for a redesigned keypad and an added FM radio. Features, design and performance are comparable, and with T-Mobile on board, the price is a wallet-friendly $99 with service. Of course, the addition of a carrier comes with some minor restrictions, but overall the Nokia 6133 is a solid choice for a mid-range phone.
The 6133's case comes in an attractive black and mirrored silver, and we like the phone's smooth, rounded edges and its lack of an external antenna. At 3.6x1.9x0.8 inches, it's not super thin, but it's still sleek and compact. Front and center is the phone's stunning 1.5-inch, 128x160-pixel external display. With support for 262,144 colors, this is a vast improvement over many other Nokia external screens. It displays the time, battery life, signal strength, and photo or video caller ID; you can also customize backlight time, screen savers, or wallpaper. The camera lens sits above the display. While there's no flash or self-portrait mirror, the external display functions as a viewfinder for vanity shots. A volume rocker is located on the left spine, while a camera control and a power button sit on the right.
Another external control rests on the right side of the 6133's hinge. At first glance, it looks like a generic button, but a quick press proved it's a release mechanism for the front flap. You don't need this button to open the phone--it opens the old-fashioned way, too--but it's fun to use and is more effective than the push-and-release method of the Motorola Pebl. The 6133 opens quickly but not with so much force that we felt it might jump out of our hand. The button is tactile, and the mechanism seems sturdy overall. Granted, it is a bit gimmicky, but we liked it. Be aware that the hinge closes stiffly, and the phone has a tendency to open when dropped on the ground.
Whichever method you use to open the 6133, you'll be drawn immediately to its brilliant main display. At 2.2 inches, 240x320 pixels, and supporting an awe-inspiring 16 million colors, the 6133's screen puts most other comparable mid-tier cell phones to shame. Colors and text pop; photos, graphics, games, and animation are displayed beautifully. You can change font size and backlight time, and though you can't alter the brightness, it didn't seem to matter. What's more, the inclusion of the Nokia Series 40 platform means menus are vivid and intuitive.
The 6133's navigation controls sit below the display. They include a four-way toggle with an OK/menu button at its center, two soft keys, and the Talk and End controls. The toggle can be set to give one-touch access to four user-defined shortcuts. Soft keys can be designated as shortcuts, too. One option even includes a shortcut bar, with a selection of user-defined applications. All this changes, however, if you choose layer T-Mobile's MyFaves application on the display above your chosen wallpaper. In this case, the right soft key is the only customizable shortcut, while the menu is accessible only through the left soft key. Ergonomically, navigation is easy and the buttons are large, but we did find the flush keys a little slick.
The 6133's keypad design differs from the Nokia 6126. Formerly raised, black number keys on the 6126 are now flush (and colored silver) with the phone's face with the 6133. We were split on these changes, and in the end give a slight edge to the 6126 design. While we like that the 6133's buttons are tactile with large, backlit numerals, they were too slippery and not easy to use by touch. Skinny silver bars separate the individual rows of keys.
As with the 6126, we weren't impressed with the placement of the 6133's MicroSD card slot behind the battery cover. Granted, you don't need to remove the battery itself (an improvement over earlier Nokia models), but you do need to remove the battery cover. This is not a huge deal, but it's worth noting. Since the charger port is located on the top of the 6133, it can be somewhat awkward to talk while the phone is plugged in. On the upside, however, we liked the textured covering on the phone's rear flap.