For many Nokia has lost the way, taken the wrong path, and been out-played and out-manoeuvred by virtually every other phone manufacturer in the business. So can the new X6, a new capacitive touchscreen Comes with Music handset be the hidden gem, in what has been a rather disappointing year of product launches?
Coming in from the left field as a kind of replacement or upgrade for the Nokia XpressMusic 5800. The Nokia X6 is the first X-series handset and presumably the new brand name for the XpressMusic range. With that in mind you get a 3.2-inch, 360 x 640 pixel, wide touchscreen display that in physical terms is as long as the Apple iPhone, but two-thirds of the width.
In use and the screen is responsive and easy to use. There is zero lag, and because it is capacitive rather than resistive, it doesn't require you to push on the screen or use a stylus.
Beneath the screen are three physical push buttons which offer call, hang-up and menu access. Like the Nokia 5800 you get a small touch-sensitive "quick menu" button at the top of the screen for accessing music, photos, sharing content, video and the Internet quickly. Above that there is a forward-facing camera for video calling (handy for applications like Fring).
The sides sport the usual array of dedicated camera shutter button, volume controls and a locking switch so you don't find yourself making calls from the depths of your pocket. There is a 3.5mm audio jack.
Strangely, and presumably due to a lack of space, the left hand side sports the opening for the SIM tray, but before you panic that your mates will be stealing it while you head off to the loo, you can only eject the SIM via a switch under the battery internally.
Talking of insides, there is no microSD slot, and to be honest with 32GB of on-board storage, you're unlikely to need to expand further. Connectivity is offered in the guise of HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. The phone sports an accelerometer for automatically switching from landscape to portrait when you rotate the phone and there is also a built-in speaker for listening to music or speakerphone.
The back sports a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar F/2.8 - 5.2 lens. Like the Nokia N86, you'll get Dual LED flash rather than Zenon and this will double up as a video light for when shooting with the camcorder feature. In use and the Dual LED flash can be rather harsh, leaving a yellow cast over subject, who then complained that they could still see spots on their eyes some 5-minutes after being snapped.
The camera's performance is okay, but not great, and certainly not as good as other camera-focused handsets in the Nokia range. If you've got good light and a subject that doesn't move you'll be okay. During our testing we weren't blessed with good weather but even so, pictures are fairly noisy, and soft. It's also slow to respond with many of our shots catching people turning their heads. Forget grabbing a picture of your little one.
As for the video. Again it's good but not great. The camera coped with movement and on the plus side there are plenty of sharing options at the other end. Bluetooth, email, social networking and Ovi are all covered, and that's before you start adding in additional ones from the plethora available for the S60 operating system. Video and image playback thanks to the widescreen aspect ratio is good.
Fire up the phone, and it is the touch version of S60, Nokia's de facto operating system at the moment and because the touch interface buttons are big it's not as fiddly as our experience with the 5800 and its Plectrum stylus. The homescreen is customisable to a point, the menu button takes you to all the relevant options. It's basic Nokia stuff and that means you are either going to like it or not.
The phone has a powerful enough processor and RAM to cope in most situations, however that didn't stop us getting the odd "You've run out of memory" error message from running too many apps.
With Symbian still enjoying popular support it means you'll get most of the apps that you want or need. All the usual suspects are present: Amazon, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, AccuWeather and plenty more via the Ovi store, but it doesn't have the wow factor that many rivals do.
As a Comes with Music phone, that means you've got plenty of music options to think about as the phone comes with 12 months music for free. Comes with Music, if you're not sure, gives you access to millions of tracks for free to listen to on the phone. The good news is that the phone's multimedia player is easy to use, and the speakers for a phone can pack a punch. You also get a radio (internet rather than FM) and Playlist DJ, a way of making playlists quickly.
Punching information into the phone is via either a portrait T9 keyboard or a landscape QWERTY. For the most part it flips into the relevant one when needed, although frustratingly there were times when this failed to happen. Contacts is a good example, after a number of reboots and searching for an answer we came to the conclusion that Nokia don't want you to do this via the landscape keyboard. Something that is very annoying.
Dependent on contract
A year on from the Nokia 5800 launch and the X6 delivers a better touchscreen, heaps more memory for storing your music, an improved camera, and basically an improved experience all around. It's easy to say this, but it's what the Nokia 5800 should have been.
But will it turn around Nokia's fortunes for a disappointing flagship smartphone range? No. Symbian is still looking old, certainly compared to everything else out there, including Nokia's own N900, sporting Maemo.
The music element, which is the core feature of this phone does do what it promises to do, but we were left feeling that we wanted more from the rest of it.