Nokia is one of the world's most popular handset manufacturers, but you wouldn't know it if you took a look at the North American market. Part of the issue might be that it is primarily a GSM company, focusing most of its efforts in the European and Asian markets, leaving the CDMA side to mostly wither away. Now and then, however, Nokia attempts to step up its CDMA presence in the U.S., and the Nokia 6205 is one such handset. Though it has EV-DO, a megapixel camera, and a music player, it's still not quite as strong a multimedia phone as say, the LG Chocolate 3. However, if you want one of the cheapest multimedia phones around, the Nokia 6205 certainly fits the bill at only $69.99 with a $50 discount and a two-year service agreement.
The Nokia 6205 is available in two versions; a normal light-blue version, as well as a special black Dark Knight edition handset that will launch prior to the movie of the same name. The Dark Knight edition is essentially the same as the light-blue version, except that it'll come with movie-based ringtones, a preloaded trailer, and a special Batman logo on an optional back cover.
We have to say right off the bat the Nokia 6205 has quite a boring design. It has the typical boxy clam shell form factor and even the Dark Knight edition handset doesn't look at all like the kind of phone Bruce Wayne would carry around. The mostly plastic body has accents of a faux brushed-steel surface, which makes it look a tiny bit fancier. As mentioned, the Dark Knight edition is in black, of course, with an optional battery cover that has the Batman/Dark Knight logo etched on it. Measuring 3.62 inches high by 1.77 inches wide by 0.72 inch thick, the Nokia 6205 is slim enough to slip in one's pocket, and at 3.3 ounces, it won't weigh you down either.
We're pleased to see an external display on the 6205. It measures 1.28 inches and it has support for 65,000 colors, which isn't that great, but it's good enough for photo caller ID and music player graphics. Our only issue with it is that it sits in the middle of a reflective mirror finish--it's great for checking out your makeup, but not so great when you're trying to read the screen under bright lights. As mentioned, the display can be used for caller ID, plus you can use it to view the album art when the music player is activated. It also shows the date, time, signal strength, and battery life. You can change the wallpaper and clock style, but nothing else. The display also acts as self-portrait viewfinder, but you have to first access the camera option, and then you have to keep the phone in an open position to take a photo of yourself, which isn't too comfortable.
Underneath the display are three touch-sensitive music player controls that only show up when you activate the phone. They consist of rewind/previous track, play/pause, and fast forward/next track. You can also hold down the play/pause key to activate the music player. They're definitely welcome, but we're generally not fans of these touch controls, since there's no tactile feedback at all between the keys. That said, at least they're isolated only to the music player controls.
Above the display is the camera lens, a speaker, plus an LED flash. The headset jack, volume rocker, and charging jack sit on the left spine, and the voice command key and microSD card slot sit on the right.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a pretty decent 2-inch 262,000 color main display. It's not the best display we've seen, but for a simple phone like this, it works just fine. Images look sharp, and colors are nice and vibrant. Unfortunately, the 6205 is saddled with Verizon's much-maligned tab interface that makes it a little tricky to access frequently used functions like the music player and the Web browser. The only other menu style option is a list style, which wasn't much better. You can adjust the backlight time, the contrast, the clock format, plus the size of the dialing font.
The navigation array underneath the display is pretty standard. It consists of two soft keys, a square navigation toggle with a middle OK key, a dedicated speakerphone key, and a dedicated camera key. There's also Send, Clear, and End/Power keys. The up, left, and down directional keys on the navigation toggle double as shortcuts to three user-defined functions, while the right directional key leads to a My Shortcuts menu that you can customize with up to four shortcuts of your choice. We found the overall keypad to be a little too flat to the surface, though there are slight delineations between each key so it's not unusable by any means. We just wouldn't recommend dialing by feel.
The Nokia 6205 comes with a 500-entry contacts list, which is pretty dinky for a phone these days. Each entry holds five numbers, two e-mail addresses, plus you can pair them with a caller group, add a photo for caller ID, or use one of 16 polyphonic sounds as a personalized ringtone (The Dark Knight edition has six extra movie-related ringtones). Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone (which you can activate prior to a phone call), text and multimedia messaging, a notepad, a calendar, a calculator, an alarm clock, a world clock, a stopwatch, plus voice command. More advanced features include PC syncing for music, support for several Bluetooth profiles like dial-up networking and phonebook transfer, a wireless Web browser, mobile e-mail (only for Web e-mail services like Hotmail, AOL Mail, Yahoo, and Verizon.net) and instant messaging, plus support for VZ Navigator, Verizon's location-based navigation service. Do note, however, that the Nokia 6205 does not have stereo Bluetooth support, so you're stuck with a wired headset if you want to listen to tunes.
The 6205 also has EV-DO support, meaning it has access to Verizon's 3G services like V Cast streaming video and V Cast Music with Rhapsody. With the latter, you can purchase and download songs over-the-air directly to the phone for $1.99, and a simultaneous download to your PC is included in the price. However, the 6205 doesn't have a true integrated music player--it essentially relies on the V Cast Music interface for all its music player functions. This can feel a tad clunky, since it takes about a second or so to start the player up, and the interface looks and feels like all the other V Cast services. This is why even with the dedicated music player controls on the 6205 we can't call it a true music phone, especially when compared with the LG Dare or the LG Chocolate 3.
The 1.3-megapixel camera on the 6205 can take pictures in four resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, 160x120), five white-balance settings, and six color effects. Other camera settings include a self-timer, a flash, the choice of three shutter sounds plus a silent option, and brightness. You can also adjust the capture mode to be in either portrait or landscape mode. Photo quality was quite mediocre. Though colors looked alright, images looked blurry, and there was a slight overcast effect. There's also a built-in camcorder, which can record clips in 176x144 up to available memory. Camcorder settings include brightness and white balance, plus an option to turn on the LED as a recording light. Video quality was pretty horrible, with pixelated images and jerky movements. The 6205 has a very limited internal memory of 58MB, but there's a microSD card slot that takes up to 4GB cards.
Personalization options are plentiful with a variety of wallpaper, screensavers, display themes, and sounds, plus you can always download more via Verizon's Get It Now service. There aren't any games included, but you can also download them via the Web.
We tested the Nokia 6205 (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) in San Francisco using the Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was very good--callers hear us loud and clear, and vice versa. They could still tell we were on a cell phone, but that did not deter from the overall sound quality. Our only complaint is that voices tended to sound a little robotic. Speakerphone quality was fine as well--callers couldn't tell much of a difference in sound quality. On our end, the speaker quality sounded a little hollow and tinny, but that's to be expected. Volume was loud enough, and that was enough for us.
EV-DO service was strong in our area. We managed to download a 965KB song in around 50 seconds, which is not bad. Web pages loaded in mere seconds as well. The music quality was passable. There isn't a lot of bass, and the speaker quality was frankly quite dismal, especially with the lack of stereo speakers. It's better if you use a headset, but one isn't included, and you only have the nonstandard 2.5mm headset jack so you have to get a special adapter. And as we mentioned, there isn't stereo Bluetooth.
Streaming video quality is the same as most other V Cast phones, with very blurry and pixelated video clips. That said, there was little to no rebuffering needed.
The Nokia 6205 has a rated battery life of 4.5 hours talk time and 11 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 55 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the 6205 has a digital SAR rating of 0.94 watt per kilogram.