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Nokia E6 smartphone

Back in business?

Quality build

Nokia must have represented task-switching in every conceivable way on Symbian over the years: we've had truncated vertical lists, horizontal lists, horseshoes, V-shapes and carousels. The E6 uses large "live preview" thumbnails, of which only one is fully visible at any one time. When you have a dozen open applications, it's very tedious to scroll through these - I found myself avoiding the task-switcher altogether, it's simply quicker to return to the Menu or Home screen.

Nokia E6

A 3.5mm socket for 'phones and the Nokia-standard AC port are present

The Home Screen borrows the widgets from Nokia's touchscreen phones, but it's an inflexible affair. Although there are five home screens, you have only three horizontal slots free on each - the clock and profiles widgets can't be moved, and are on every screen - and a fixed space is reserved for notifications. You can only have one widget instance per home screen: so one row of contacts, or one shortcut bar.

Nokia followed up the E71 with the E72, which brought only incremental technical improvements at the expense of build quality, and introduced some very poor design choices. Few were happy with the result. For the E72, Nokia halved size of the space bar - the E6 sees it restored to its four-key-wide glory. Gone too is the E72's unreliable optical navpad.

Here's the E6 key layout compared to the E71 - this is illustrative, the two devices are not to scale:

Nokia E72 (left) and E6 (right) key layouts

The 'floating' function key bar that was last year's Nokia design fetish across its E-series phones has also been banished. The dedicated function keys and keyboard here are outstanding.

With an aluminium case and Gorilla Glass screen, it all feels very solid, and there's no flexing or creaking. There's a dedicated lock key, removing the requirement to strike a key combo or gamble with the power button.

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