Tools Of The Trade: The Nokia 6680 3G handset

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The Independent Online

The first 3G mobiles to go on sale in the UK were far from perfect. The handsets were bulkier than 2G models and had a shorter battery life. Phones that worked only on 2G networks were sleeker, cheaper and had more features.

The first 3G mobiles to go on sale in the UK were far from perfect. The handsets were bulkier than 2G models and had a shorter battery life. Phones that worked only on 2G networks were sleeker, cheaper and had more features.

So the industry hopes that the next round of handsets will do a better job. Much will ride on how well new phones, such as Nokia's 6680, are received.

The 6680 is thinner and narrower than last year's 6630 handset. The phone, though, retains a conventional design, with the keys positioned below the screen. The main camera is on the rear of the unit and is capable of taking pictures at a 1.3 megapixel resolution - about the same quality as a standalone digital camera four years ago. On the front, the 6680 is equipped with a lower-resolution VGA camera for making video calls.

The layout is intuitive but the handset remains bulky and the fashionable will probably bypass it in favour of more stylish units unless they really want 3G features. The 6680 offers these, driven by the Symbian operating system and Nokia's well-regarded Series 60 interface.

Together, these support a range of applications, from email and calendar functions to video calls and an online blogging tool. Business users are most likely to focus on email and the phone's personal information manager (PIM).

The relatively large screen makes viewing calendars, contacts or email easy, although the 6680's reliance on a numeric keypad makes it hard to work on long documents. Nokia phones will work with external Bluetooth keyboards but that adds to the cost.

Setting up some functions could also have been easier. The 6680 comes with an instant messaging client, for example, but making this work requires a raft of complex settings and thus a call to the network's technical support department. Installing multiple email boxes is also less intuitive than it could be.

Another problem was that the phone refused to take pictures, falsely claiming a lack of memory. This could be a software issue, as switching the unit off and back on resolved the matter.

The 6680 did function well, however, as a mobile modem, delivering decent access speeds over a Bluetooth connection to a laptop. The Bluetooth link was also well behaved, and there were few problems going online. Nor did running the 6680 with Bluetooth turned on cause any real problems with battery life.

This makes the 6680 a good choice for mobile users who want 3G services, especially a data connection, but not a separate laptop data card.

THE VERDICT

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pros: vast improvement on previous 3G phones.

Cons: still some software glitches.

Price: from free on Vodafone; around £450 without a contract.

Contact: www.nokia.co.uk

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