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Nokia E6

Nokia E6 smartphone

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Socket and see

While we're on the hardware side, Nokia includes a clever slimline AC adapter - the Earth pin folds out - and a distinctive thick white USB cable. Design innovation in AC adapters isn't something you see very often.

Nokia E6

Nokia's new-look menu, to be standard across its remaining Symbian smartphones

And congratulations to Nokia for turning off the environmental nagware, urging us to remove our chargers from the wall socket when not in use. All this did was annoy most people and allow a few to feel smug and self-righteous because they've saved a pointlessly microscopic amount of electricity.

Nokia is killing off its Ovi brand, but the E6 was in production too late to get the memo. Ovi is being pushed harder than ever: the first thing a new E6 user will see - at least on an unbranded handset - is an Ovi screen, even before the traditional time, date and location have been filled in. The Ovi app store has been much improved - ironic, since this will be superseded by Microsoft's Marketplace on future devices.

Microsoft Communicator, the Exchange-based IM app, is now deeply integrated into the Address Book. VoIP support is outstanding, and the system-level integration combined with Symbian's parsimonious requirements make the E6 a good choice for this kind of communication. Skype isn't included, but can be downloaded from the Ovi store. Nokia's client for Cisco's Unified Communications Manager is also a small download.

Consumer-grade email is taken care of by Nokia's Mail service. This is a push email offering that aggregates a number of services and pipes them through Nokia's servers - not always very reliably, and it bogs down under modest loads. It's normally sold through operators but is bundled here for free.

Nokia E6

Multi-mode comms to the fore

For consumers who don't care about security or performance, and I suspect that's most of them, it's good enough to get them up and running with Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or GMail. If you depend on GMail or IMAP, you'll probably want the native Google GMail client.

A similar Nokia aggregator, Chat, does the same for IM services, with Yahoo, Windows Messenger, Google Talk and MySpace all supported. Oh, and Ovi Chat.

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