With the introduction of GPS navigation systems to the mass market a few years ago, GPS systems have become more affordable to everyday consumers and in turn, extremely popular. It wasn’t long ago when GPS systems were only found in luxury vehicles and used exclusively for flight navigation systems.
Times are changing!
The Nokia 6110 Navigator is the second handset from the Finnish mobile giant to include an integrated GPS chip – but the first handset to come with pre-installed turn-by-turn mapping software. Nokia’s other GPS handset, the N95, does not come with mapping software. The 6110 is also the first handset to use the ‘Navigator’ postfix, suggesting that more Navigator handsets may be in the works.
The 6110 is much more than just a GPS navigation device, as you’ll soon find out if you read on!
Highlight features of the 6110 include the powerful Symbian operating system, HSDPA connectivity, 16.7 million colour LCD display, 2mpx digital camera, and expandable memory. And we can’t forget the GPS functionality, either!
The Symbian operating system and Nokia Series 60 platform make an excellent duo, which provide a easy to use user interface with practically no lag. The 6110 comes with around 40MB of onboard shared flash memory, which can be expanded by way of microSD card. A 256MB card is included in the sales package, and the port on the 6110 supports cards up to 2GB.
WCDMA 2100MHz networks are supported for high-speed 3G connectivity. The 6110 supports WCDMA and HSDPA protocols, providing data connectivity up to 3.6Mbit/s in supported areas (and on supported networks!). GSM 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz networks are also supported, with the GPRS and EDGE data protocols.
Unlike the Nokia N95, Nokia’s other GPS-enabled handset, the 6110 includes mapping software and maps along with its integrated GPS chipset. The Nokia Navigtor software provides turn-by-turn navigation across Australia using the Route 66 mapping software and maps. For more information on how the GPS performs, check the GPS performance section of this review.
The 6110’s 2.2” LCD display is capable of displaying up to 16.7 million colours (true colour). The resolution is 240 x 320 pixels, the usual for smartphones these days.
Nokia have selected a slider-format for the 6110 Navigator, which is a clever choice because it provides two areas for the ‘guts’ of the handset, which must include the GPS chipset/antenna. A standard format handset would only provide the one area, which could possibly mean that the 6110 Navigator would have been a much larger handset overall.
All up the 6110 measures 101 x 49 x 20mm, and weighs 125 grams. This is not a large handset by far, but is reasonably larger than other slider handsets from Nokia, such as the E65. That said, Nokia have had to pack in the GPS chipset so we can forgive the 6110 Navigator for not being the smallest handset on the market.
The 6110 Navigator is only available in the one colour scheme: black and silver. Although physical design is a bit plain, the handset does look professional and clean-cut. The buttons on the left and right hand sides of the handset are ‘hidden’ as they are the exact same colour of the sides and to not protrude outwards. The left hand side of the handset houses the mini-USB port, My Own key, and miniSD card slot. On the right hand side you will find the dedicated camera key and volume up/down shortcut keys.
The interface connector of the 6110 has been moved from its regular spot at the bottom of the handset to the top of the handset. Nokia’s own Pop-Port technology is not used on the 6110; the only connectors are the headset port and mini-charging port. At the bottom of the handset is the back cover release button.
The entire back of the handset can be removed to access the battery and SIM card port. The back cover itself has the active camera shutter built in to it, which protects the lens from any foreign materials. When the handset is on and the shutter is opened, the camera application automatically launches.
Sliding the 6110 open reveals the numerical keypad. The sliding mechanism is smooth and locks satisfyingly into place at the open/shut positions. The keypad is made from hard, shiny plastic that unfortunately isn’t very comfortable to use. It doesn’t appear that there is much space underneath the keys, as they do not push down very far at all and require a lot of force to push. I’ve gone into more detail on this in the problems & issues section of this review.
User interface & display
Running the Symbian 9.1 operating system with Nokia’s Series 60 platform, the 6110 Navigator is a stable and powerful mobile handset. The handset is operated via the 5-way navigational keypad and two soft keys, and has a 2.2” TFT LCD display with 240 x 320 pixel resolution, capable of displaying up to 16.7 million colours.
Nokia’s Series 60 platform (version 3.1 Edition) is used by a number of manufacturers in the Symbian smartphone market, and should be familiar to many users. The user interface is mainly icon and tab-based, making it easy to quickly jump from folder to folder and application to application. A new feature on the 3.1 Edition of the Series 60 interface is the little blue circle that is superimposed on applications that are currently running in the background. The Symbian operating system provides multitasking abilities; so many applications can be run at once.
The Active Standby feature on the 6110 places a row of icons and integrates the calendar with the standby display. This feature can be turned on or off as desired, and the icons are completely customisable to your own tastes. It’s a shame Nokia don’t include the full Active Standby in their handsets anymore – in the past you could add notes to the standby display as well as several other features.
The dedicated menu button launches the main menu, which can be displayed as a grid (default), list, horseshoe, or v-shaped layout. The last two views are similar to the image gallery function found on older Series 60 handsets. Four themes come pre-installed on the 6110 with wallpapers, screensavers, and colour schemes for the user interface. Additional themes can be downloaded via the integrated browser or transferred to the handset from a computer.
I experienced no crashes while using the 6110, and the handset is very fast and responsive. The handset is powered by a 369MHz ARM 11 processor and has 40MB of integrated shared memory for user storage. The memory can be expanded by way of miniSD cards, of which Nokia have included a 512MB card. Cards up to 2GB are supported.
Making and receiving calls
Compatible with 2G and 3G network bands, the 6110 Navigator enables you to make and receive calls all around the globe. Included in the retail package is a stereo headset that can be used for calls, or you can use the built in speakerphone, earpiece, or a separately purchased Bluetooth headset.
The usual pick-up and hang-up keys can be used to answer or reject calls that come through to the handset. The right soft key can be used to reject the call and send an SMS to the caller, using a template or your own message.
An integrated phonebook provides multi-field contact cards which can include details like address, additional phone number, e-mail address, notes, and a picture which will be displayed when the contact calls.
External volume keys on the right hand side of the handset allow you to adjust the volume during calls with ease. The volume from both the speakerphone and earpiece is adequate, even below the maximum level.
Video calling is supported, and the 6110 has a forward-facing CIF+ camera exactly for this purpose. During a video call you can switch to using the 2mpx camera to show your caller your surroundings.
The usual messaging protocols are supported by the 6110 Navigator: from simple text messaging (SMS/EMS), to MMS, e-mail, and instant messaging. The handset comes with T9 predictive text dictionaries for local languages for speedy text input.
SMS/EMS and MMS messages utilize the same folders – inbox, drafts, sent messages, outbox, and templates. E-mail messaging is handled by a separate application that you must configure with your e-mail address settings. POP3, IMAP4, and SMTP servers are supported.
SMS and e-mail messages can be read out-loud using the Nokia text-to-speech application. The font size can also be configured if you have trouble reading the default size.
The high-speed 3G protocols WCDMA and HSDPA make long waits while downloading/sending MMS and e-mail messages a thing of the past. The e-mail manager supports e-mail messages with attachments, which you can then view using the pre-installed viewer applications (QuickOffice suite and Adobe PDF).
Typing long messages can become uncomfortable for your fingers due to the lack of space beneath the keypad for the keys to push into. The keys on the 6110 Navigator are much harder to push than those on other handsets, which doesn’t help the situation either. More on this can be found in the Problems and issues section of this review.
Nokia have equipped the 6110 Navigator with all of the popular connectivity options, including Bluetooth, USB, and 2G/3G network connectivity. The sales package of the handset comes with a CD-rom containing the Nokia PC Suite software, which has everything you need to synchronize and transfer data to/from the 6110 Navigator with your Windows-based PC.
As I mentioned earlier, the 6110 does not have the proprietary Nokia Pop-Port interface, which is used on other handsets for the USB connectivity. USB connectivity on the 6110 is provided via the mini-USB port on the left hand side of the handset. The mini-USB standard is used in a range of different devices, and chances are you’ll have a compatible cable lying around somewhere. If not, you can always use the Nokia cable included in the sales package.
The USB port is fully compatible with high-speed USB version 2.0, and supports the Mass Storage Device profile for driverless communication with most operating systems.
Bluetooth version 2.0 (EDR) is supported by the 6110 for reliable, high-speed wireless data transfer. Supported Bluetooth protocols include the stereo audio playback/control profiles, A2DP and AVRCP. I tested the Bluetooth speed using the integrated Bluetooth chip in my Macbook, and was able to transfer a large MP3 file at a steady 130KB/s.
GSM bands 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz are supported for 2G network connectivity. Like most modern handsets the 6110 will automatically switch between bands when required, to provide the best reception possible. When utilising a 2G network the 6110 can provide packet-data connections over GPRS or EDGE data protocols.
The WCDMA 2100MHz 3G band also is supported by the 6110 Navigator, along with the HSDPA protocol. HSDPA is the latest in 3G technology, and is commonly referred to as 3.5G. The 6110 can communicate with compatible networks at up to 3.6Mbit/s. I was unable to test the real-life speeds of the 6110, but when I connected to Vodafone’s online services using the 6110 it indicated it was using the HSDPA protocol by way of a small “3.5G” icon at the top of the browser.
One of the main features of the 6110 is the integrated GPS chipset and mapping software. Unlike the other GPS handset from Nokia, the N95, the 6110 Navigator comes with built in navigational software and local maps – hence the postfix of ‘Navigator’.
The mapping software on the 6110 also differs from the N95’s basic “Maps” application. The application, called Nokia Navigator (original!), uses the services of Route 66, an international geographical information systems provider. Included in the 6110’s sales package is a Route 66 DVD-rom, which includes software enabling you to purchase new maps, voices, and other data, which you can then transfer to the handset. The DVD-rom also contained the pre-installed maps and voices in case they got deleted from the handset by accident.
The maps on the 6110 Navigator I received were “Australia 2006 Q4”. These are the latest maps available from the Route 66 service, and cover most (if not all) of Australia. The handset also included several different voices and language packs.
The GPS chipset supports regular GPS, as well as technology known as AGPS. AGPS stands for Assisted GPS, and it shortens the time required to lock into satellites by downloading small files from the Internet that contain location information. For this to work you must have an Internet-accessible GPRS/EDGE/HSDPA protocol. The Navigator software has pre-defined Nokia servers to download its AGPS information from.
On a cold start (launching the Navigator application for the first time), the handset took anywhere from 2-5 minutes to have a lock on my position. A hot start would only take a few seconds. Once a connection had been established I was unable to get it to drop out – only once did I manage to and this is because I was driving through a tunnel, which the satellite signals cannot pass through. That said, the maps did know I was going through a tunnel and estimated how long it would take me to pass through using the speed I was travelling at before the signal dropped out.
I was very impressed with the calibre of the Nokia Navigator software. It provides a 3D or 2D view of your position, night colours for driving at night, alarms for a use-defined speed limit, and a wide range of other functions. The backlight stays activated while the Navigator application is on, and other applications can be launched while it runs in the background. If a call or message comes through while using the software, the normal prompts are displayed. The dedicated Navigator key makes it easy to launch the software or bring the application to the front of the UI.
For turn-by-turn guided instructions you simply have to search for the address/location you require, select “Navigate to”, and you’re off! Searching for an address/location can be done via “free text” mode (enter your own terms), keyword search, exact address, or nearby services and popular destinations. The Australian maps provide services such as hotels, petrol stations, shopping centres, and so forth. You can program the application to provide you the fastest route, shortest route, and to avoid tolls/motorways if desired.
If you miss a turn or do not follow the mapping instructions, the handset automatically recalculates a route and continues instructing you to your destination. Road-blocks can be defined on-the-go, in which case a recalculation will occur and your navigation will continue. The stereo speakers are loud enough to be overheard while listening to the radio (albeit, quietly).
Unfortunately the 6110’s sales package does not come with a windscreen mountable holder for your car. I received one in my reviewers pack, and must admit it was a great help and I recommend purchasing one if you’re going to use the 6110 whilst driving. It includes a car-charger, which is always handy. Using the GPS functionality of the 6110 will chew through the battery, so I wouldn’t recommend using it without having a charger near-by.
Overall I was extremely impressed with the GPS functionality of the 6110. The pre-installed maps save much time (and money) downloading/purchasing your own maps, and the Navigator software is simply great.
Nokia have packed serval multimedia applications into the 6110, including the RealPlayer video player, a proprietary Music Player, sound recorder, camera viewfinder, Flash Player, and FM stereo radio tuner.
The FM stereo radio application can only be opened when the headset is plugged into the 6110’s interface port located at the top of the handset - this is because the headset wire acts as the aerial. The audio received from the tuner does not have to be played through the headset, it can be streamed to a Bluetooth headset (if connected) or played through the integrated speakerphone. The radio application has support for Visual Radio, which as yet to make it to Australia.
File formats supported by the Music Player application are: MP3, MP4, M4A, AAC, eAAC+, and WMA (Windows Media Audio). A library organises supported media files according to their tags based on artist, album, track list, genre, or composer. The equaliser has five presets, and the 6110 provides stereo widening, bass boost, and reverb settings effects which can be activated from the media player settings window.
The player interface is simple but effective. I was very surprised with the quality of the loudspeaker on the 6110 Navigator – it’s amazing! Even at top volume without any of the effects turned on the sound is crisp, clean, and there is no distortion. Top points here!
Real Network’s RealPlayer application provides streaming and local video playback of MPEG4 and 3GPP clips. Full screen playback is supported.
The 6110 Navigator has two pre-installed games (non-Java): Marble Canon and Snake. The aim of Marble Canon is to match three or more balls of the same colour together. Snake is the newest take on the classic Nokia game. The games can be found inside the Applications -> Games folder.
The 6110 has an Organiser folder on the main menu which contains the bulk of the PIM applications pre-installed on the handset. The Series 60 Feature Pack 1 includes PIM applications such as a fully featured calendar, note taker, calculator, converter, and clock. Nokia have also pre-installed an Adobe PDF viewer and QuickOffice document viewer application suite.
As I mentioned earlier, the calendar on the 6110 can be integrated with the Active Standby feature of the standby screen. This provides easy access to upcoming appointments, meetings, birthdays, and other entries in the calendar that are coming up. The calendar application itself is much the same as other Symbian calendar applications, and can be synchronized with a PC via a Bluetooth or USB connection with the Nokia PC Suite software.
The converter application provides conversions of currency, area, energy, length, mass, power, temperature, time, velocity, and volume. Currency rates must be manually entered, as there is no online download facility built in to the application.
The clock application has a world time function that can display numerous cities around the world in a list-format. It also handles all alarm clocks, of which you can define several – including reoccurring alarms.
Java applications are supported by the 6110 Navigator, and using the JBenchmark testing suite I obtained the following benchmarks:
||HQ: 208; LQ: 378
The benchmarks are on par with similarly equipped handsets, and should not pose problems for most medium-load Java applications and games. Applications and games can be downloaded via the integrated browser or transferred to the handset from a PC or other device.
QuickOffice provides viewing support for Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents stored on the 6110’s internal/external memory. The Adobe PDF Reader LE 1.5 application supports viewing (only) of PDF documents and can display documents at full screen or in a separate window. Zooming functionality is also offered.
I’ve come to expect amazing build quality from all Nokia phones, and very rarely am I under impressed. Unfortunately with the 6110, I was under impressed.
Firstly, the back cover of the 6110 Navigator is extremely hard to remove. You must push the button down at the bottom of the handset then somehow manage to slide your fingernail under the bottom section of the cover, and pull with great force (until it feels like the back cover is about to snap) before it comes free. It makes a horrible noise when it finally comes off; it is not a smooth process at all.
When the battery cover is attached, it doesn’t seem like it is attached enough. There are little gaps here and there between the body of the handset and the battery cover, and if you squeeze the sides of the handset it’s clear that the battery cover could be closer to the body.
My last gripe is with the keypad: there is little space underneath the keys for them to push ‘in’, and extra force is required to actually push the buttons. The keys don’t make a very satisfying ‘click’ noise and a lot of typing might make the tips of your fingers sore, as it did with mine.
I know none of these issues are particularly major (except for the keypad, which you will be using a lot), but as I mentioned earlier it’s less than what I (and many others) would have come to expect from Nokia.
I am happy to report that all other build quality-related aspects were up to scratch. The sliding mechanism is smooth, and the handset locks into place at the open and closed position neatly.
Nokia quotes up to 11 days standby time on GSM/WCDMA networks, 3.5 hours talk time on GSM networks and 2.5 hours talk time on WCDMA networks. These estimates are nothing special, and in real life testing I could only get around 3 days of standby time out of the handset (without GPS usage).
Using the GPS functionality of the handset will drain the battery significantly. Leaving it running in the background a fully charged battery will only last around 7 hours. If you’re planning on using the 6110 Navigator to navigate while driving, I highly recommend purchasing the car cradle and cigarette lighter charger – it’s worth the investment.