CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. How we test phones

Nokia 6086 (T-Mobile) review: Nokia 6086 (T-Mobile)

Nokia 6086 (T-Mobile)

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
5 min read

The Nokia 6086 is one of two cell phones that T-Mobile has rolled out in conjunction with its new HotSpot @Home service--the other one being the Samsung SGH-T409. The HotSpot @Home service lets you make calls via Wi-Fi without taking up any of your plan's minutes, plus it greatly enhances the phone's reception. Because the Nokia 6086 is a UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) phone, it is able to automatically switch calls between regular GSM cellular airwaves and preconfigured wireless networks. Other than that, the Nokia 6086 has a decent set of features--it has a VGA camera, a music player, Bluetooth, a speakerphone, and not much else. It has a very solid design with one of the best keypads we've seen, and is a pretty good option for those who want to try out the HotSpot @Home service. It's available for $49.99 with a two-year contract.


Nokia 6086 (T-Mobile)

The Good

The Nokia 6086 has a solid, easy-to-use design with a decent array of features that include Bluetooth, a VGA camera, a music player, and a speakerphone. It also supports T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home service that lets you make calls over Wi-Fi as well as regular cellular airwaves.

The Bad

The Nokia 6086 has a lackluster display and mediocre photo quality.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia 6086 is a well-built, basic camera phone with good call quality, but its most impressive feature is its ability to make calls via Wi-Fi.

Even though it's a tad bulky at 1.8 inches wide by 3.6 inches tall by 0.9 inch thick, the Nokia 6086 has a pretty attractive design. Covered in a coat of faux brushed aluminum, the 6086 has smooth clean lines and curved edges, making it nice to hold in the hand. It weighs around 2.9 ounces, which isn't too heavy, and can be pocketed easily without weighing you down. On the front of the phone is a tiny 1-inch diagonal monochrome external display that shows all the essentials like time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. The tiny LCD doesn't support photo caller ID, and you won't be able to use it as a camera viewfinder for self-portraits. The left spine is home to a volume rocker plus a dedicated camera key, while there's a microSD card slot on the right.

The Nokia 6086 has a VGA camera.

Flip open the phone and you'll see a very lackluster 1.75-inch diagonal display. Even though it supports 262,000 colors, it only has up to 128x160 pixel resolution, so images and menu icons ended up looking washed out and blurry. You can't change the brightness or backlight time, but you can change the font size for messaging, the contacts list, and the Web browser. The Nokia 6086 supports T-Mobile's MyFaves, so you'll be presented with five contact thumbnails to scroll through directly on the main display if you so choose.

Underneath the main display is the navigation array that consists of two soft keys, a four-way toggle with a middle OK key, and the Talk and End/Power buttons. The four-way toggle also doubles as four user-defined shortcuts. A dedicated speakerphone key is unfortunately missing. Overall, the keypad on the Nokia 6080 is one of the best keypads we've ever had the pleasure to use. All the keys from the navigation array to the alphanumeric keypad are large, spacious, and have a bubbled texture that makes it impossible to press a key by mistake.

Other than the HotSpot @Home support, the Nokia 6086 is a pretty basic camera phone. It has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, notes, a birthday, and a Web and street address. They can also be categorized into groups, paired with any of 17 polyphonic ringtones, or a photo for caller ID (although do remember that they won't show up on the external screen). You can also select up to five entries to be your MyFaves contacts. Other features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging (with support for Windows Live, AIM, ICQ, and Yahoo), an alarm clock, a calendar, a task list, a voice recorder, a calculator, a timer, a stopwatch, Bluetooth, and a wireless web browser via T-Mobile's t-Zones.

Of course, the most important feature in the Nokia 6086 is its support for T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home service. The service lets you connect to any wireless network to make, answer, and receive calls. Additionally, calls made via Wi-Fi will not be deducted from your plan's minutes. You can read more about HotSpot @Home in our review of the service.

The Nokia 6086 took disappointing photos.

Even though the Nokia 6086 has a few multimedia features such as a camera and a music player, they're pretty bare-bones. It has a VGA camera with only three resolution settings (640x480, 320x240, 160x120), three quality settings, several color effects, and a self-timer. The built-in camcorder has pretty much the same settings, with two different lengths--30 seconds or so for video mail, and as much as the available memory. Photo quality was pretty disappointing, and video quality was mediocre as well, with a lot of blurry and overcast images. The phone's music player is also pretty basic, and has the standard play, pause, and track shuttle controls. There is an equalizer with six different presets, however. You can upload songs from your PC via a microSD card.

There are quite a few personalization options with the Nokia 6086. You can customize your wallpaper, screensavers, themes, sound alerts, and ringtones, plus you have the option to buy and download more from T-Mobile. A few games are included in the phone--Brain Challenge, Golf Tour, Highroller, Sudoku, and World Poker Tour--and you can always download more as well.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Nokia 6086 in San Francisco using the T-Mobile service plus with a few wireless networks thanks to the T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service. Call quality was surprisingly good--voices sounded natural and clear, even when in speakerphone mode. This was the same with both GSM cellular airwaves and when using Wi-Fi. The signal strength also improves remarkably when using the 6086 within a wireless network, which makes us think the HotSpot @Home service is definitely a great feature. We also paired the Nokia 6086 with the Cardo S-640 Bluetooth headset without any problems. Sound quality of the music player was OK but rather subpar. Music sounded tinny, with not a lot of bass at all.

The Nokia 6086 has a rated talk time of five hours and a rated standby time of four days. The tested talk time matched the rated time at 4 hours, 57 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Nokia 6086 has a digital SAR rating of 1.15 watts per kilogram.


Nokia 6086 (T-Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7