Nokia 6220 classic review

Reviews 22:06, 16 Jul 2008

We review the Nokia 6220 classic, a feature-packed mid-priced smartphone with a 5-megapixel Carl Zeiss camera, A-GPS Sat Nav, and HSDPA inside

Some mobiles turn heads with their looks but don't wow so much with the features beneath the bonnet. The Nokia 6220 classic is a mobile that takes the opposite tack.

From its unassuming outside you might expect a standard-issue set of features on a mid-table device - but what you actually get is a high spec smartphone, loaded with A-GPS satellite navigation kit, sporting a high quality 5-megapixel Carl Zeiss lens-equipped camera, and powered by high speed HSDPA 3G connectivity.

Nokia has effectively taken much of the best bits of its recent high-end Nseries handsets and packed them into a more mid-tier handset chassis. It's a no-fuss design, but like many Nokia workhorse handsets before it, it's aimed more at the mass market than niche fashion phone buyers.

As well as Nokia spreading its GPS technology and camera gadgetry down the range, the 6220 classic is underpinned by the Symbian v9.3 smartphone operating system, using Nokia's S60 3rd Edition SP2 user interface. It's packed with the multimedia capabilities you get from the likes of the N82 - video calling (there's a secondary low-res camera up front), video and music players, high speed downloading and streaming of content, a full web browser, plus the capability to upload and share your own content online.

Unfortunately, despite high speed mobile connectivity, there's no Wi-Fi capability - which is a shame, as it would have offered another low cost, higher speed option for uploading as well as downloading content.

Still, for a mid-tier handset, the Nokia 6220 offers a stack of features, both for entertainment - including an FM radio and VGA quality video recording with TV-Out option - and more office orientated productivity, including document viewer software to deal with email attachments, plus extensive organiser and synchronisation tools.

Design and handling
Although the functionality is Nseries-like, the build quality feels much less so. It's a lightweight 90g, but has the plasticky feel of a low cost handset. The front panel is made of the glossy plastic we've seen on several Nokia mid- and high-tier models, and this gives the casing a creaky feel when pressing buttons.

The conventional button layout is mostly OK, although we'd have preferred more differentiation between keys on the smooth numberpad. The positioning of the S60 menu 'squiggle' key, on one side of the large navigation D-pad, stuffed between a softkey and the Call button, is a bit cramped but is raised slightly to deter accidental pressing.

Although texting is OK with the smooth numberpad, the softkeys under the display have a stodgier action than most Nokia smartphones. This impression isn't helped by the way the user interface is fractionally slow at responding to button presses - there's a slight hesitancy as apps are opened or commands carried out. Nonetheless, the smooth transitions implemented in this version of the software, and additions to selection options are nicely implemented

The display is a reasonable 2.2-inch screen, a lovely bright 16-million colour array offering QVGA (320x240 pixels) resolution. There's no accelerometer auto flipping of the screen, as you get on some Nseries models, but the screen does auto-flip to landscape when the camera is fired up.

Some may feel that the display is too small for in-car GPS requirements, compared to standalone dedicated Sat Nav kits. But as a phone with Sat Nav as an extra, we found it perfectly acceptable; in addition to viewing navigation and positioning instructions, you can upgrade the onboard Nokia Maps software to add voice guided navigation, and Nokia includes a 3-month trial as part of the 6220 classic package.

Camera quality
The high quality Carl Zeiss-branded 5-megapixel camera on the back doesn't weigh down or bulk out this phone. It adds minimal bulge to the body, which measures in at 108(h) x 46.5(w) x 15.2(d)mm. There's a sliding lens cover built into the bodywork, with a slider toggle that's just a little too easy to shift accidentally in a pocket. Still, it offers some welcome lens protection. Beneath the lens is a powerful Xenon flash, adding considerably to the snapper's low-light shooting capability.

The main camera is capable of some very impressive photography. Its software is similar to Nokia's N82 and N95 8GB 5-megapixel cameraphones, and includes the option for geotagging pictures - adding precise location information that can be used later on mapping applications.

It features a responsive 2-step autofocus system, with a range of shooting controls and modes, including macro option for close in shooting. The camera can be launched by sliding open the lens cover (as well as via the menus and shortcuts), and there's a neat onscreen flipping transition of the display into landscape viewfinder mode.

The camera is great to use; it's images are sharp and detailed, with the autofocus and metering system very responsive and pleasingly precise. There's an excellent level of detail and crisp definition, plus fine colour rendition. We were extremely pleased with the results in good and moderate light conditions. Indoors shooting and low light imaging benefits hugely from the Xenon flash, which is more powerful and fills in more precisely than an LED flash in darker shots.

These impressive results are complemented by a fine set of typical S60 camera settings controls, so you can tweak your images before shooting, or introduce effects or edit them afterwards. Shots can be uploaded directly to image sharing sites, blogs or other websites using Nokia's sharing software.

(You can see examples of shots taken with the 6220 classic and more camera details in our related article, Nokia 6220 classic camera samples.)

The 6220 classic's video shooting capability is higher quality than you'd normally expect in a cameraphone too. It captures footage in VGA (640x480 pixels) resolution at 30 frames per second, so looks unusually smooth and watchable for mobile-shot clips. These can be easily uploaded online too.

For video viewing of copied or downloaded clips, the onboard RealPlayer multimedia player software does an excellent job, and you can switch to full screen mode for a wide landscape viewing. In addition, a TV-Out cable is included for sharing video and other media content on a TV set or via other AV gear.

Location finding
A fast key on the side of the phone is pre-set to activate the onboard A-GPS (Assisted Global Positioning System), which uses both an internal GPS receiver and network cellsite tracking information to provide quick and accurate location finding.

The phone comes with Nokia Maps UK mapping info supplied on a 1GB MicroSD card, and you can search easily for detailed local information - from shops and restaurants to petrol stations and local attractions - plus get route planning and navigation directly from the phone.

Outside of your onboard mapping coverage, you can download additional maps to use with the phone, or simply use a data connection to get over the air mapping updates as you go along (although this could quickly rack up your data roaming bills).

The 6220 classic's A-GPS system locks on to satellites reasonably quickly to pin-point your position, and we found the system reacted as swiftly to movement as you need for an in-car Sat Nav location tracker.

The trial voice guidance system worked well too for driving, with loud, clear vocal instructions, and as standard there's a good choice of viewing options for both daytime and night driving. Pedestrian search and directions options are available, too, and you can opt for extra services such as live traffic update services and detailed city guides.

One concern we had was that our review phone would occasionally freeze when we tried launching Maps from the side button - requiring a reboot to get the Sat Nav system working again. It could be an individual handset glitch so we'll be checking on another model, and will update you with our findings.

Besides this, we found the A-GPS system and Nokia Maps effective and easy to use - it's a real bonus to have such an application in a mid-tier handset like this. The latest version of Nokia Maps software has improved user-friendliness too, and is really very intuitive and useful.

Multimedia playback
We've come to expect a decent standard for the music player software used in Nokia smartphones, and reassuringly the 6220 classic doesn't disappoint. The latest S60 software is straightforward to use, and a wide range of music file formats are catered for, including DRM-protected downloads - the Nokia Music Store over the air music download service is supported on this handset, too. You can also search for and download podcasts easily straight from the phone's Podcasting software.

The player user interface is familiar, easy to use stuff, with straightforward categories and simple controls operated by the D-pad. It's easy too to sync tracks with a PC using Windows Media Player, copy tracks using the Nokia Music Manager software and USB cable provided, or you can simply drag and drop music files into the phone's memory card when hooked up to a PC. Bluetooth transfer is supported too, and on top of the onboard 120MB of user memory, MicroSD and MicroSDHC memory cards up to 8GB capacity are supported.

Music quality is more than acceptable, with a pleasant, well-balanced audio performance. The supplied earphone headset is reasonable, though not outstanding; you can add your own headphones to improve matters - provided you get hold of an easy to find 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter to fit the phone's 2.5mm socket. The onboard loudspeaker is pretty good for a mobile phone too - nice and loud without the usual ear-shredding mobile tinnyness.

The HSDPA-fuelled Nokia web browser is fast and slick at resolving pages, and provides an efficient browsing experience. It has the usual S60 zoom and pan options to check out full pages, or view parts of pages. You can select a widescreen landscape view too, or full page overview. RSS feeds are supported too, plus there's room in the internet applications for both Nokia's WidSets and Yahoo! Go widget-based applications.

Additional software
It's impressive how much software Nokia has included in this phone; you do feel you're getting almost all of an Nseries package in a cheaper handset. And on top of the office tools, calendar functionality, document readers, text to voice reading software, voice recorder, FM radio and so on, the S60 operating system on which the 6220 classic is built means you can customise it by adding additional applications as you like. There are plenty available, and you can browse for some directly from Download links the 6220 classic itself.

The 6220 classic's battery performance will inevitably be affected by how much you use the onboard A-GPS, music player, video, web browser and other power hungry features on this multi-talented device. Nokia estimates best-case battery performance giving up to 2.5 hours talktime on 3G networks or 5 hours in GSM coverage, and 280 hours standby time with 3G connections or 300 hours on GSM networks - a fairly average sort of 3G smartphone performance. Alternatively, you can get up to 13 hours of pure music playback or 4 hours of GPS mapping from the device. In our average usage tests, we managed just over two days of action (with some GPS activity) between charges.

Standard voice call performance was uniformally high throughout our tests, and the phone gave consistent network reliability too in a variety of locations.

The 6220 classic is an attractive addition to the Nokia lineup, simply on the basis of so much eyebrow-raising smartphone functionality packed into such an unassuming body. The lack of Wi-Fi, which will scrub it off some buyers' shortlists, however, and that squeeky plastic casing with cheap-feel buttons does little to reflect the high quality nature of the features inside. We also hope Nokia updates the firmware soon to speed up its laid-back S60 user interface - its nicely presented, but a touch slow to respond.

Nonetheless, with its excellent 5-megapixel camera, very able A-GPS sat nav set-up, HSDPA high-speed data connectivity, and extensive smartphone multimedia capabilities, the Nokia 6220 classic has a stunning amount going for it at its mid-tier price.


Nokia 6220 classic Info

Typical price: From free to £100 with contract, £279 SIM-free

Latest Nokia 6220 Classic Prices

5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and Xenon flash
3G with HSDPA high-speed mobile broadband connectivity
A-GPS sat nav technology built in
Nokia Maps supplied on 1GB MicroSD card
VGA quality video at 30fps
Good quality music player
Symbian S60 smartphone capability

No Wi-Fi connectivity
Plasticky casing and unappealing controls
2.2-inch display could be small for some sat nav users
User interface is a touch slow
Need adapter for 3.5mm headphone socket

Verdict: Nokia packs in Nseries-style high-end smartphone, sat nav and camera features into a no-nonsense mid-tier handset


Download: Nokia 6220 Classic user manual and software
More info: Nokia website

Nokia 6220 classic technical specifications

Recycle your phone: Sell Nokia 6220 Classic

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