AT&T's new Nokia 6650 looks as if it could be at home in Motorola's lineup. With a thin profile, a boxy shape, and a shiny metal skin, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Motorola Razr V3. But before you start criticizing Nokia for chasing after a four-year-old trend, we can assure you that the 6650 is worth a look. Not only is it better looking than the Razr, but it also offers a brilliant display, a sturdy construction, and a respectable mid-range feature set that includes 3G, push-to-talk, multimedia, and GPS. The keypad and controls could use some work, but call quality was pleasant and data reception was sharp. The 6650 is an affordable $69.99 with a two-year contract or $269.99 if you pay full price.
The Nokia 6650 has an angular retro design that perfectly befits the thin explosion that started in 2004. It's not exactly eye-catching, but we welcome the metal skin that gives the phone a sturdy feel in the hand. Our silver review model had an appealing polish but the handset also is available in red--the features are the same on both models. The hinge has a solid construction; in fact, the phone closes with such force that it pinched our finger when it got in the way. At 3.93 inches tall by 1.86 inches wide by 0.64 inch thick, the 6650 travels well. It's a bit heavier than we expected (3.95 ounces), but that's not a problem.
The 6650 has a great external display; it measures 1.36 inches and supports 262,000 colors (160x128-pixel resolution). Besides showing all the necessary information including the date, time, battery life, and signal strength, it also shows numeric and photo caller ID. But the 6650's display goes a step further by allowing access to a variety of features without opening the phone. You can access the camera, the calendar, the timer, the stopwatch, the ringer profiles menu, the music player, and the camera. And when you're in camera mode, the display also acts as a viewfinder for self-portraits. Even with all that functionality, the interface is intuitive. Three touch controls just below the display are your primary controls.
Above the display sit the camera lens and flesh. It's a convenient location, as long as you don't place your finger over the lens when snapping a photo. On the right spine you'll find the microSD card slot, a 2.5mm headset jack, and the charger port. A single Micro-USB jack sits on the left spine, below a thin volume rocker and a PTT button. The controls are easy to use, but because the volume rocker is on the front flap of the phone, there is quite a gap between the rocker and the keypad when the phone is open.
The 2.2-inch internal display is positively gorgeous. With support for a brilliant 16.7 million colors (320x240-pixel resolution), it's far better than almost every other phone display in its class. Graphics and photos are extremely sharp and colors are bright and vibrant. The Symbian series 60, third-edition menus are simple and easy to use. We could find features easily and quickly. The list and icon designs are the most intuitive of the four choices. You can change the display's brightness, the font size, and the backlight time. Just be aware that if the backlighting is off, it's very difficult to see the onscreen commands for unlocking the keypad.
The 6650's navigation array and keypad is spacious, but all of the controls are flat and relatively slick. It wasn't a huge problem--we could dial and text comfortably and the buttons give off an audible "click" sound. The buttons also give off a "push" feel when pressed, but with no real tactile definition you can't dial by feel. On the other hand, the keys have a bright backlighting and the blue ring (you can change the color) surrounds the center column of keys. The numbers on the letters on the keys may be small for some users; we recommend that users with visual impairments take the 6650 for a test drive before buying.
The navigation controls consist of a silver four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, Web browser, and camera shortcuts, Talk and End/power controls, a main menu button, and a back key. There's also a dedicated control for the GPS feature, which is something we don't see on many other cell phones. And of course, the Symbian OS also gives you a number of shortcuts right on the home screen.
The 6650 has a 2,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for 11 phone number types, three e-mail addresses, three URLs, a nickname, a company and job title, an assistant's name, three street addresses, a birthday and an anniversary, spouse and children names, and notes (the SIM card can hold an additional 250 names). You can organize contacts into groups and you can pair them with a picture and one of 19 polyphonic ringtones. Alternatively, you can use your own MP3 files as ringtones. You even can choose a video to identify your callers, but that will replace the ringtone.
Other essential features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a to-do list, a notepad, a calculator, a countdown timer, a unit and currency converter, a voice recorder, a speakerphone, and a stopwatch. The 6650 supports M3 and T3 hearing aids.
Higher-end applications are relatively plentiful, even if the 6650 isn't a true smartphone. You'll find integrated GPS with support for AT&T Navigator, full Bluetooth with a stereo profile, a YellowPages Mobile application, PC syncing for music and photos, speaker-independent voice dialing, instant messaging, USB mass storage, and--as mentioned--support for AT&T's PTT network. E-mail is available only through the Web-based AT&T Mobile e-mail application. You can access various POP3 accounts such as AOL and Yahoo, but support for IMAP4 accounts is pretty nonexistent. The 6650 will not sync with Outlook e-mail, contacts, or calendar. Also, it does not come with a USB cable in the box.
As a 3G UMTS/HSDPA handset, the 6650 supports AT&T's Cellular Video service, which offers tons of streaming-video content, and AT&T Mobile Music, which brings wireless song downloads through a variety of partners. The experience on the two applications is similar to that on other AT&T phones; both are minimalist in their designs, but the music player supports a wide variety of file formats (MP3, AAC, eAAC+ and WMA) and it offers useful features, such as album art, playlists, and shuffle, and repeat modes. The 6650 also has a solid selection of music-related features, such as support for XM Radio Mobile, a Music ID application, a Billboard Mobile channel, music videos, and a community section with access to fan sites and downloads.
The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in three resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to 640x480. Other editing options include four quality settings, three color tones, an adjustable white balance, a self-timer, a 4x digital zoom, a sequence mode, and a silent option. The flash is relatively bright and offers three settings: on, off, and automatic.
The camcorder shoots 320x240 videos at 15 frames per second with or without sound. Editing options include a night mode and the zoom. You can shoot for 1 minute, 11 seconds in short mode, but otherwise you can film for much longer in the standard format. The 6650 offers 40MB of internal user-accessible memory. That's not a huge amount, so we recommend using a memory card. The 6650 will accommodate microSD cards up to 8GB.
Photo quality was decent, but not exceptional. We had enough light and colors were natural, but images had moderate noise. Videos were mediocre, as you might expect from a camera phone.
You can personalize the 6650 with a variety of color themes, wallpaper, screensavers, alert tones, and animations. You also can type a personalized greeting. You can download more options, and more ringtones, with the XHTML wireless Web browser. The handset offers demo versions of three games--Diner Dash 2, Tetris, and Midnight Pool--but you'll have to buy the full versions for extended play. Other integrated applications include The Weather Channel, Mobile Banking, MobiTV, a RealOne player, and Flash support.
We tested the quad-band, dual-mode (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; HSDPA 850/1900) Nokia 6650 world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was quite good. We enjoyed clear conversations with a solid signal. There was no static or interference and voices sounded natural. We also had enough volume for most environments. Our only complaint was that the sound was a bit hollow, but it was only noticeable at times.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell we were using a cell phone, but most callers didn't have any significant complaints other than a bit of background noise. Speakerphone calls were satisfying with a clear signal and loud volume. We did have to speak close to the phone if we wanted to be heard on the other end, but that's not unusual. Bluetooth headset calls were fine.
The 3G signal was relatively fast, and both the browser and Cellular Video menu have a couple of easy-to-use features. You navigate both using the toggle and a cursor that you'd find on a full Web browser. It's not as fluid as using a mouse, but it's still pretty intuitive. Also, you can navigate through opened Web pages much easier than on a regular cell phone browser. If you press the "Back" button, miniature versions of previously opened pages will show up on the display. You then can select your desired page and jump straight to it. The old pages aren't fully cached--they still need to time to reload fully--but it's a nifty feature just the same.
Like on the Samsung Innov8, there is a peculiarity to the 6650's Symbian menus. Unless you back out of applications completely--you need to select the "Exit" option rather than just hitting the End button--the application will continue running in the background. What's more, an icon will appear next to that application's icon in the menu.
The 6650 has a rated battery life of 4 hours talk time and 14.5 days standby time. We were very impressed with the unexpected tested talk time of 11 hours and 54 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the 6650 has a digital SAR of 0.92 watts per kilogram.