Nokia’s smart new 3G phone

We put Vodafone's handset to the test

Vodafone’s 3G UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system, also known as WCDMA, or wideband code division multiple access) network is upon us, and with it, new handsets like the Nokia 6680.

This sleek 3G phone is light at 133g, and measures a mere 108mm tall, 55mm wide and 20.5mm thick. Despite the small size, the 6680 sports a 32-bit 220MHz ARM9 processor and a bright and sharp 176-by-208 pixel screen with 262,000 colours.

But wait, there’s more: Bluetooth, USB, PictBridge wireless printing, stereo music player (with good-sounding but uncomfortably hard headphones) and two cameras: one VGA facing the user, and a 1.3 megapixel job at the back. The impressive hardware specification list is marred by the paltry main memory, however, which is only 10MB. It’s supplemented by Reduced-Size MMC memory cards, and the 6680 comes with a 64MB card.

The 6680 should be a good roamer, with tri-band 900/1800/1900MHz and of course, the 2100MHz UMTS support which is what most people will buy the phone for.

Nokia slapped SymbianOS v8.0 into the 6680 and it works rather well. Even without reading the manual, getting the hang of the phone’s features doesn’t take long thanks to the well thought-out user interface. Although web browsing will always be a challenge on a small-screen handheld device, the 6680 makes a good fist out of email with SMTP, IMAP/S and POP3 clients built-in. I was able to connect to my mail servers over the internet securely with ease and read and send mail.

With the provided USB cable and PC Sync software, I found it easy to keep information such as contacts and calendaring up-to-date between the 6680 and Outlook, so as a small yet capable business phone the 6680 scores highly. There's even a suite of office applications if you can handle the small screen and “phoneboard” (or you could use a separate Bluetooth keyboard).

I’m still getting used to the idea of video calling, but from what little I’ve seen it works nicely on the 6680 with good image and sound quality and acceptable frame rates in varying light conditions. Likewise, still images and video clips (Nokia's licensed the Real Media Player for playback) are both good considering the size of the phone.

Vodafone has a bunch of $7 games for the 6680, which are admirably well-programmed to work with the severe hardware limitations of the phone and fun too.

However, the 900mAH Li-Ion battery drains at an alarming rate with all the different radios blasting. The 6680 lasts for about a day with lots of use. I was also a bit disappointed that I couldn’t carry on listening to my downloaded music in the background while switching to another task on the phone.

Other than that, the $899 Nokia 6680 is a good all-rounder that should keep business users happy.

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