Just a couple months ago, we got our hands on Nokia's 7270--the first flip we'd seen from the company in quite a long time. While that in itself was exciting, the phone wasn't all we had hoped. Now the Nokia 6255i offers a different take on the flip-phone form factor. Available through MetroPCS, the mobile not only supports Bluetooth and a speakerphone but also offers a VGA camera, a video recorder, an FM tuner, support for streaming media, and an MMC slot. Sound quality is also solid--that is, if your conversation can survive MetroPCS's spotty service. The Nokia 6255i costs $249, but you should be able to get it for less with a service contract. Nokia apparently didn't have sleekness and stylishness in mind when designing the 6255i. With a simple two-tone silver and midnight blue casing, the only reason the flip phone will catch your eye is its large size. At 3.4 by 1.9 by 1.0 inches and 4.4 ounces (not counting the extendable antenna), the handset is bulky and heavy, fitting snugly in a jeans pocket. However, the 6255i's size has its benefits. It feels solid in the hand, and it's comfortable to use when held up to your ear, almost like your cordless phone at home.
The sizable (1.25 inches diagonal) external display on the front cover is great for a Nokia phone, but at 4,096 colors, it pales in comparison with the high-resolution screens found on some of today's handsets. Still, it shows useful information such as your signal strength, battery level, time, and caller ID (where available). While you can change the color scheme, the wallpaper, and the screensaver, you can't adjust the backlighting; however, the time is still visible even after the backlighting turns off. In the bottom-left corner are the camera lens and the flash. In addition, you can use the external display for self-portraits.
Flip open the Nokia 6255i, and you're presented with a 2-inch (diagonal) screen that displays 65,536 hues. Again, we were somewhat disappointed by the quality of the screen, particularly for a device that places such a heavy emphasis on its multimedia capabilities such as video streaming. It's not as sharp or as bright as competitors' screens, especially the Sanyo MM-5600's gorgeous 262,000-color mug. That said, the menus are easy to use, and you can choose between two menu styles.
Below the screen, you'll find two soft keys, the Talk and End keys, and a dedicated camera button. They all surround the five-way navigation toggle. While there's a convenient OK key in the middle, users with larger digits might want to inspect the layout since it's easy to slip and press the wrong button. Thanks to the 6255i's ample real estate, though, the phone's backlit keypad is spacious, making it easy to dial by feel.
On the left spine, there's a volume rocker, but you can't use it to navigate through the menus. A 2.5mm headset jack and a power button are at the top, while the infrared port and a voice recorder/camera shutter key are located on the right side of the front flap. The latter button serves several purposes. A quick press of the key brings up the voice recorder, and once the camera is activated, you can use it as a capture key, though not to activate the camera. Also, if you hold down the button, you can answer or make calls via the speakerphone even if the phone is closed. Finally, hidden behind the battery pack is the 6625i's MMC slot. While we certainly appreciate its inclusion, we still can't understand why Nokia continues to place it inconveniently underneath the battery rather than on the side of the phone.Just like its size, the Nokia 6255i's feature list is big and plentiful. The mobile has a 500-name phone book that lets you store up to five numbers; an e-mail, Web, and street address; and a note for each contact. For caller-ID purposes, you can pair a contact with an image or any of 24 polyphonic ring tones or assign it to a caller group. Messaging fanatics will be pleased to see text and multimedia messaging supported, as well as e-mail (POP3 and IMAP4). Other treats include a calendar with notes and reminders, an alarm clock, a calculator, a to-do list, voice commands, a WAP 2.0 Web browser, and support for 1xRTT networks for high-speed data transfer. And while the 6255i certainly has a playful side, business users can take advantage of the handset's conference-calling feature as well as the speakerphone and the integrated Bluetooth, two things noticeably absent from the Sanyo MM-5600. The mobile also provides USB-cable support for data transfers between your phone and your PC.
The 6255i's VGA camera takes pictures in Standard, Portrait, Night, and Video modes, and you can choose from High, Normal, and Basic quality settings. For better pictures, there is a 4X zoom and a powerful flash that does a good job of lighting dark environments. There is also a self-timer, but customization options are kept to a minimum, with only the ability to turn the shutter sound on or off; you won't find any fun frames or color tones for your amusement. Image quality was decent but not the best we've seen. Once you have your snapshots, you can save them to the phone's 8MB of shared memory or MMC media. You can also save them as wallpaper; send them to family and friends via Bluetooth, a multimedia message, or the infrared port; or upload them to your PC with Nokia's PC Suite software.
In Video mode, the Nokia 6255i lets you take 15-second clips with sound, and there's a countdown timer at the top of the screen for your convenience. You have most of the camera settings available to you in this mode, such as zoom, flash, and quality, and you can mute audio if you're the silent movie type. Unfortunately, you may find the video hard to watch since images can get blurry, and at a brief 15 seconds, they fly by.
One of the main attractions of the 6255i is its media player. Now you can listen to your favorite MP3 and AAC music files on your phone. There's even a media equalizer that lets you choose from settings such as Pop, Rock, Jazz, and Classical. The 6255i also has an FM radio, but you must use the included wired headset to tune into your favorite stations since it acts as an antenna. Sound quality was decent, and you can preset up to 20 stations. The toe-tapping doesn't even stop there; you can also download streaming video and audio. Unfortunately, this feature was not supported by MetroPCS, so we didn't have an opportunity to take it out for a spin.
Customization options on the Nokia 6255i are standard fare. You can choose from a variety of color themes, wallpaper, and sounds, and you can always download more from the Web. The handset also comes with five preloaded games: Chic Pinball, Puzzle, Miki's World, Snowboard 3D, and Beach Race.We tested the triband (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) Nokia 6255i in the San Francisco area using MetroPCS service, and call quality was good; however, we couldn't say the same for the signal strength. On our end, calls sounded loud and clear, and our callers said the same. The sound quality slightly diminished when we used the speakerphone, but volume was still adequate. That said, our conversations were brief, since we experienced a number of dropped calls during our test period. It was frustrating, to say the least.
We came away with 3.75 hours of talk time on a single charge, beating the rated time of 3.25 hours. Standby time was a respectable 9 days, compared with the promised time of 11 days. According to the FCC, the 6255i has a digital SAR rating of 1.27 watts per kilogram and an analog SAR rating of 1.14 watts per kilogram.