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It’s been about a month since I received my Nokia 6682 from Matchstick.ca.  In that time, I’ve used it fairly extensively, and I made notes of my observations over time. I present them here in free form.

For the quick version: I like it better than my old phone (Motorola V300), but I don’t love it. It is in some ways a step down, despite its additional features.

I’m going to include some photos from the phone in my review.  I hope you like them.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Dang, there’s a lot of manuals. And they don’t actually tell you how to do things.

The package was easy to open.

Why’s the battery wrapped separately? I just want to turn it on.

It’s a nice weight.

OK, so now I’ve got it unwrapped. Now what do I think?

Bear in mind that what I do for most of my day is find bug and troubleshoot other people’s problems, so I might be a little picker than you would be.  But also realize that I’m going to put into words little things that you might not express that would likely bother you.

QUICK START
Uh, it wasn’t.

First of all, my old phone had a sim card—a little chip that is the “heart” of the phone.  I though I had all the phone #s stored on the SIM card and I’d just be able to switch it out.  But it turns out that if you use any of the “advanced” address information, like adding alt. numbers, or photos, or notes or an address, my old phone stops using the SIM and starts using its own internal memory.

So when I put the SIM card in the new phone—no numbers transfered over.

Second, when I turned the Nokia 6682 on for the first time, the very first thing it asked me was to set my “home city”—what, it can’t figure this out?  And I hit cancel by accident, and then it took, literally, 35 minutes to figure out how to set my home city again.  For the record:

1) Go to Clock

2) turn OFF auto-time updating

3) Add Vancouver

4) Add some other city (yeah, why did I have to do this? I don’t know, but I needed more than one…)

5) Set Vancouver as my home city

6) Turn auto-time updating back ON

And, turning “auto-time updating” ON or off, requires you to RESTART your phone.  RESTART? It’s not a frigging server.  I don’t restart my microwave to change the time, I don’t restart my watch when I change the time, I don’t restart my car to change the time, and I’ve never had to restart a phone to change the time before.

I wanted to use the bluetooth headset right away, but the battery was dead on arrival.  Why can’t it ship with a charged battery?

SECOND IMPRESSIONS
The little memory card, an MMC card, was fiddley and hard to put in or remove.  I’m glad I don’t need to ever change it, but it I had multiple cards (i.e. with different songs, or to use the camera more extensively, it would bother me a lot.

Anything worth more than $100—if it comes with a shiny flat screen, should have a screen protector on it.  Yes, Apple, I’m looking at you, too.  I don’t care if it doesn’t come with a case, but if you buy one of these phones and you don’t get a case you will regret it.

THE PROBLEMS
But it was only after using it for a while that I encountered its biggest problems.

Problem Alpha: It’s hard to learn to use. Really hard.

It was hard for me even to discover how to get to the “Main” menu. (It’s the small button on the bottom left with a circle, a square and two swirls on it.) Is your Mom going to figure that out?  Nope.  The button’s big enough to put the word “Menu” on it—why not do that?

It’s hard on the front page to tell the difference between what the “Messag.” choice and the Envelope icon do—for the record, one lets you start a new text message, while the other takes you to the messaging menu.  And if you have room to put “Messag.” with a “.” beside a button—why not put an “e” there?  I mean, really!

I know I will (by the end of this post, if not now) sound picky, but that’s what this phone needs: someone who was picky.

Instead it feels like it was slapped together by 7 people who were all just trying to get it out the door so they could focus on their next assignment.

The phone is slow.

There’s a noticeable delay on every button press.  The applies to dialing, to navigating menus, to everything except clicking around the front page.  Turning it off takes 7 seconds.  Turning the phone on takes about 33 seconds.  33 seconds!  I can’t think of a device that takes that long to turn on that’s not a photocopier or a computer.  And that doesn’t even mean it’s found a network yet…

I can’t figure out if it’s possible to customize the menu options on the front page, but I really wish you could.  The default five icons are: Contacts, Envelope, Calendar, Image Gallery and Print.  Print?  Is print really the 5th most common thing you do on a cell phone?  I’ve lived 33 years without needing to print from a cell phone, and I’m a class-A geek.  How about MP3 player?  I mean, this phone is supposed to do that…

And speaking of the MP3 player, twice I had this scenario: I started listening to music.  A few minutes later, I went to do something else with the phone—send a message, look up a calendar event.  Then a few minutes after that, I wanted to turn off the music.  In both cases it was so hard to get back to the MP3 player to stop the phone from making noise that I ended up turning the phone off because it was quicker. That’s a huge usability flaw, and one I discovered within days of using it.

The default background is awful; it’s as generic as hotel lobby carpet and it obscures one line of text on the page.  A basic rule of background graphics is that they shouldn’t be more contrast-y than what’s in the foreground.

The phone has no IM integration that I was able to figure out how to use.  I did, just now, dig around in “Menu->My Own->IM” where it asked me to “identify a server.” Sorry, but I don’t know what “Server” AOL AIM or MSN runs on…

Whenever I get a voicemail, I get a special custom sort of text message that I need to delete.  Why? Why not just have the little voice mail icon turn on, and then go away when the voicemail is listened to?

The power cord.  Don’t get me started on that. Instead of a big rectangular power brick, which is bad but at least standardly bad, they have a power thing that has the cord coming out the side. 

This works OK if you only have one of them, but it you have two, on a standard power bar the second one either blocks multiple outlets, or sits right on top of the power switch toggle.  I give Nokia props for seeing a problem, but if you’re going to solve it, then SOLVE it, don’t just give me a new, non-standard problem to deal with.  What’s wrong with putting the brick a little further up the cord?

While I like the form overall, I miss having a phone that folds in half, for three reasons: locking the keyboard manually each time is annoying, the screen is totally protected when closed, and there’s something satisfying about doing something manual—clamping the phone shut—to end a conversation, instead of just clicking the tiny hang up button.

I do also miss the Voice Memo feature on my old phone.  There was a side button I could press that I set to trigger the voice memo, which was really handy.  On the new phone, there’s a button on the top of the left side that triggers voice dialing—which I’ve never successfully used—and it unfortunately sits in such a place that when I press it in, I also often press in the matching button on the right side, which turns the phone off.  After doing this three times, I gave up on that button.

Last, and possibly least, the volume control is a little hidden—it’s hard to figure out how to turn the ringer up and down, and during a call, you can’t turn the volume up or down because the control is the center four-way rocker, which is against your face—other phones have a volume control on the side, permanently under your fingers when you’re talking, which strikes me as better placement.

SO WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT?
The camera doesn’t make any noise when you turn it off. I hate that “off” beep on my old phone.

The lanyard was really easy to attach. (But then I decided I liked it without the lanyard.)

The camera is pretty snazzy.

I love, LOVE Bluetooth—the headset is awesome (when it works, which it does intermittently when the battery is low).  Being able to connect to the computer to sync addresses is nice., and syncing calendar is superbly useful.  I have a hard time living without that. In fact, bluetooth is the main reason I haven’t switched back to the old phone.

I like the way it feels in my hand—it’s a good size and weight.  I like how long the battery lasts.  And I like some of the photos I can take with the phone.

WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
No way. Not because it’s awful, but because there has got to be a better phone out there.

And even if there isn’t, I don’t want to “reward” this sort of engineering.  I’m totally surprised that Nokia did such a lackluster job.  The errors I’ve encountered are not (just) the nitpicks of a deranged UI enthusiast. They’re the kind of problems that all users will have encountered just in trying to do basic things like making calls and checking voicemail.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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