As a late adopter of handset designs that stray from a classic candybar-style, Nokia has so far this year shown us two of its slider phones, the small and bulbous 6111, and the bulky 3G 6280. Perhaps we're just getting familiar with ultra-thin phones like the Samsung Z510 and Motorola's SLVR, but with the 6280 measuring 100 x 46 x 21mm, we didn't have room for much else in our pocket and there was no way of hiding this oversized device. If you're looking for a more inconspicuous slider, you'd be better off with Samsung's D820, which shaves a couple of millimetres off the Nokia's thickness.
With the slider closed on the 6820, Nokia still gives you access to functions such as push-to-talk and camera mode, with dedicated buttons for each on the side. You can also browse the menu with the navigation key to read messages and make calls from your phone book. Sending a text message requires you to slide up the display to access the keypad, which is a decent size and fairly well spaced out for the fat fingered amongst us.
Similar to Sony Ericsson's K750i, the Nokia 6280's viewfinder and shortcut key are orientated for landscape mode when taking pictures, so it feels somewhat like using a regular digital camera when you're taking snapshots.
One of the star features of the 6280 is the 2-megapixel camera on the back with a tiny flash and self-portrait mirror built-in next to it. There's also a secondary VGA camera on the front for video calls.
Nokia allows you to assign video ringtones to profiles for incoming calls, either a master video for all incoming calls or one for individual contacts, which you can add at the same time as you enter a new phonebook entry.
Navigating around the new Nokia Series 40 interface shows off the 6280's snazzy high-resolution QVGA screen (320 x 240 pixels), which can display up to 262,144 colours. We had no problems reading text messages outside on sunny days, nor did we ever struggle to hear calls as the volume of the speaker can be set quite high.
Using the built-in music player, we were able to listen to MP3s and unprotected AACs (sorry, no WMAs), either stored on the 6280's meagre 10MB of internal memory or on the hot-swappable 64MB miniSD card Nokia provides in the box. Although we managed to squeeze about 16 songs on the memory card, 64MB is hardly enough to use the handset as a portable video player, even though it supports 3GP with H.263 or MPEG video files (QCIF resolution), has the same resolution and can display more colours than the video-capable iPod. There's also an FM radio tuner onboard, but this requires the supplied headset to be connected to act as an antenna.
Other applications pre-loaded on the 6280 include a Web browser, voice recorder, organiser, world clock, unit converter and three games -- Golf Tour, Rally 3D and Snake IIII. Fans of the classic time-passing game Snake will be delighted to see Nokia has developed it into a 3D cartoon-like animated game that remains true to the original.
PC connectivity is possible via or Bluetooth 2.0 or USB (cable provided) and Nokia includes a CD with synchronisation tools and drivers. Unfortunately, this software suite doesn't run on Mac OS X but now that Apple has released Boot Camp, Intel-based Mac owners can dual-boot into Windows XP if the need arises to use Nokia's software, which includes applications for backing up, synchronising Outlook or Lotus contacts, installing add-ons, transferring music, creating wallpapers and ringtones, sending SMS via your PC, and connecting to the Internet. Mac users can still access the phone as a storage device using Bluetooth.
Sending a six-minute MP3 from a MacBook Pro to the 6280 via Bluetooth took under a minute (at an average of 120KB), after which we could set the song as a ring tone or listen to it through the built-in media player.
The stereo headset Nokia supplies in the box is average in sound quality and its tangle-prone lanyard design won't be to everyone's tastes. Unfortunately, the 6280 uses Nokia's proprietary Pop-Port connector for the headset so you're stuck with the fairly low-end supplied set for music. There is, however, an inline remote control with a volume switch, a single button for changing the song, radio station and answering the phone, and a microphone for voice calls.
A thoughtful addition Nokia bundles is an adapter to use standard Nokia chargers with the 6280, although it's sad to see the number one phone manufacturer changing its signature power plug after all this time.
Battery-wise, we consistently got three full days use out of the 6280, but much less with frequent use of the radio and MP3 player.