The Nokia 6131 is a mid-range clamshell mobile phone with a simple design. Fortunately, it's not too simple: the 6131 has an expandable microSD slot, EDGE connectivity and FM radio among other features. There's also a button on the right side of the hinge that lets you flip the phone open, in case you find opening clamshells difficult with only one hand.
The Nokia 6131 is a smart-looking mid-range clamshell phone that measures 48mm wide by 92mm tall by 20mm deep. At 112g it's not the lightest phone we've ever held, but it feels comfortable to hold and has a rubber-like casing that's smooth and grips well. It's more attractive than certain other Nokia clamshells, but it still doesn't have the same appeal as the Motorola Razr V3.
The front of the 6131 houses a 21 by 27mm screen that displays 262,000 colours and flashes when an SMS, MMS or call is received. Further up, near the top of the front, there's a 1.3-megapixel camera. The camera and external screen are surrounded by a silver strip and there's a visible silver lip-like section on the bottom part of the phone that's visible from the top. On the left of the phone there's a dedicated volume button and next to it is a hidden infrared port.
The left side of the phone features a power switch and a dedicated shutter button, wherejas the back of the phone is minimalist, aside from a silver Nokia logo. The top section of the phone houses the charging port and a USB port that doubles up as a headphone port. The USB port is protected by a cover that doesn't feel flimsy and should stay in place once it's pressed in.
On the right side of the hinge there's a small button that pops the phone open when you press it. The hinge is spring-mounted and as you shut the phone it tenses the spring. Then when you press the button it releases the spring and the phone flips open. This does make using the phone easier, since you don't need to use two hands to open the flip, but there have been reports of the spring mechanism breaking. The hinge is very slightly wobbly when the phone is open, but we didn't experience any problems with it.
The inside of the phone is a contrast from the dark outside casing and has a large, eye-catching silver frame that surrounds the keypad. The navigation key and soft keys at the top of the keypad fit well under a large thumb and aren't fiddly to press. The keys on the keypad are also large and well spaced, letting you move from one key to the other without having to pay too much attention or squint your eyes.
Above the keypad is the main screen, but unlike the screen on the outside, the internal screen is QVGA and displays up to 16.7 million colours. It's bright and easy to read, but the font size on the main page and menu could be a little larger. Fortunately, you can adjust the size of the font in messages, contacts and the Web browser. You can use the both the internal and external screens as a viewfinder for the camera.
The Nokia 6131 is a phone designed with simplicity in mind. However, it does feature quad-band connectivity, which will let you roam in any country that uses a GSM network. It also has EDGE, which lets you browse the Internet at faster speeds than a GPRS connection, although only the Orange network supports EDGE in the UK at present.
There's a 1.3-megapixel camera that can be activated through the phone's menu or using the shutter button on the right side of the phone. You can shoot still pictures or video with it and there's a night mode function, a timer, and several effect options and quality settings. We found that there was about a 3-second lag after taking a picture and that without an LED or flash night shots were impossible without some ambient light.
If photography isn't your cup of tea, there's always the MP3 player or the built-in FM radio. However, unless you buy a Nokia 3.5mm adaptor for your own headphones you'll have to use the proprietary ones that come in the box. The MP3 player lets you set tracks to play randomly and also adjust the equaliser settings. In the radio application, you can save up to 20 radio stations and play them through the loudspeaker, but you must have the headphones plugged in -- they act as the antenna.
In order to store all your images and music, there's an expandable microSD slot underneath the battery cover, which supports up to 2GB. Unfortunately, there's no bundled card with the phone so you'll have to buy one if you need more storage space.
Other features include SMS, MMS, email, voice recorder, Web browser, Bluetooth, infrared, java games, speakerphone, calendar, alarm clock, to do list, notes, calculator, stopwatch, countdown timer, polyphonic ring tones and world clock. There's also a Bluetooth presenter feature that lets you access your Windows PC and control PowerPoint presentations and the Windows Media player, among other Windows applications.
Audio quality on calls was at times quieter than we would have liked, but you could hear the person on the other end clearly and vice versa.
The image quality on photographs from the 1.3-megapixel camera was okay. The images had blurry edges and in dark conditions it was difficult to make out anything, due to the lack of any light or flash.
Battery life is quoted at 240 hours on standby and 3.4 hours talk time. We found that this was fairly accurate, but of course it depends on many factors, including network signal strength and usage (see our feature on extending your mobile's battery life for more details).
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide