Another day, another Nokia phone. But among the deluge of mobiles the company releases each year you'll occasionally find a real nugget. The Nokia 6300 is one of these.
The 6300 is one of the most pleasantly tactile phones we have ever used. It's a slim-line candy bar wrapped in a layer of stainless steel. Add piano-black accents, a large seamless screen, and you have one phone that feels great just to simply hold. It's cool to the touch -- thanks to the steel coat -- and gives off a satisfying sense of solidity. The product photos simply don't do this phone justice.
The controls should be instantly familiar to users of Nokia phones, but first-time converts may have benefited from the old-school "Phone" pictograms rather than the red and green dots here. Navigation is easy thanks to the sensibly-spaced four-way rocker switch and Enter key -- which are easily better than most competitors' solutions.The screen is large and perfectly legible, and the keypad is sufficiently sized for heavy-duty texting.
There has been a push for phones to be everything to everybody, and most times this doesn't work. While the 6300 may include features such as 2-megapixel camera and MP3 playback, it is undeniably a phone first. There are no perfunctory Play buttons, or shutter controls. The Nokia makes and receives telephone calls.
If multimedia is a consideration, then there are some concessions to your media hoarding ways. Yes, it will play most music files, including WMA, MP3 and AAC, and there is also an FM radio and Web browser.
The phone supports what was destined to be the next killer app, Push To Talk (PTT), but an overly convoluted sign-up process and the fact that your "walkie talkie" could go off at the most inappropriate time meant that it never took off. The Nokia does nothing to change this, as you have to set up PTT for every contact manually -- plus your network needs to support it. Our Optus plan doesn't.
Battery life on the Nokia 6300 was very good -- considering the phone is so slim -- with the phone lasting five days on one charge, with occasional use.
Call quality was also good, if not quite up to Nokia's own high standards, with a very slight muffling of the user's voice. And if you do feel the need to listen to music, the supplied earphones are quite good, but if you have a 2.5mm headset adaptor you could potentially use your own headphones.
There seems to be two camps of people: those who prefer Nokia's menu system, and those who like Sony Ericsson's. The 6300 should appeal to both sides. Most menu options are within one or two clicks, and there aren't too many vertical menus to scroll through. Most of the regularly used functions can be accessed by pressing a certain direction on the four-way rocker -- pressing up, for example, opens the camera application.
It's actually a good camera too. Our test shots of the Sydney streetscape came out clearly, if a little "digital". Portraits come out perfectly, while night-time shots aren't as successful -- they are very grainy due to the lack of a flash. Still, the camera's better than a lot of other onboard models.
One of the only minor problems with this phone is its tendency to mark. The piano black section on the rear will scratch itself sooner than look at you, while the stainless steel backing doesn't survive drops all that well -- it will either come off completely and go skittering across the room, or cause a small nick in the steel.