I have been in the market for a new phone + contract recently, and the best deal I could find included the Nokia 6230. I was convinced easily, as this little thingy contains everything a geek could be interested in:
- Proven Nokia Series 40 platform
- Exchangeable faceplates (for the first time including the camera lens part!)
- VGA camera with video recording support
- Java MIDP 2.0 with support for all the fancy Java APIs: CLDC 1.1, MIDP 2.0, Nokia UI API, WMA (JSR-120), MMAPI (JSR-135), Bluetooth API (JSR-82 no OBEX), JTWI rel.1 (JSR-185)
- MP3 player
- Memory card support (MMC)
So that’s gonna be good, right? Well, not exactly. Let me debunk the features one after another:
- Proven Nokia Series 40 platform: This is fine as long as we are talking about usability, but it stops when we extend this to PC connectivity. I was unable to connect the 6230 to the PC Suite via Bluetooth, and everybody else I asked basically said “use IrDA!”. The same problem existed with the Nokia 6310i and had to do with Nokia not supporting USB Bluetooth sticks at the time (I am using the built-in BT module of my Dell Latitude D600). Come on, Nokia – why is this so hard to do? Why can’t I even select the bluetooth serial port connection in PC Suite (because this one works on my PC!)?
- Another PC Suite problem: after all these years, they still haven’t included an option to sort the phone book as “last name, first name”. This is a business phone – I don’t even know the first name of some people in my address book…
- Installation of Java Midlets is *only* possible via PC Suite, copying the .jar file to the phone won’t do. This of course makes the PC connectivity problems matter even more.
- Exchangeable faceplates: When I took them off for the first time (to insert the SIM) I feared I’d break the phone. It has gotten easier now, but the phone also started creaking. Again, not exactly best quality for a phone in that price range.
- >Bluetooth: Works mostly. Browsing the phone requires lots of manual input, but this may be because pairing didn’t work properly (it tells me it worked, but the pairing disappears after a few seconds)
- VGA camera with video recording support: The pictures are ok. Regarding the video: well, this is ridiculous. Of course it’s not supposed to replace a real cam, but the quality is comparable to a TV without antenna. you can watch an example here.
- Java MIDP 2.0: Yeah, right. What was I expecting? Being a blogger, moBlogging would be the least. So, this phone is supposed to support MMAPI and has a camera. So I can use Kablog, right? Wrong. I don’t know which parts od MMAPI Nokia decided to support, but they definitely left out camera access. Judging by this Forum Nokia post, they don’t even think about fixing it.
- Radio, MP3 and MMC: These are probably the phone’s best features. The sound quality is really really good, and my 256 MMC worked like a charm. I can’t yet say how long the batteries will last in MP3 mode, though….
So, what do I think of the 6230? I don’t think I’ll keep it. The bugs are too annoying for me to keep using it. I mean, I would probably be less pissed if I had known about this in advance. When they announce features in a phone, I can expect those to work. At the very least I can expect to be informed about what part specifically will not work.
This is certainly not the reason the Nokia stock has gone down that fast (other manufacturers are not necessarily better), but it may be one of many. This is about the 5th Nokia phone that has disappointed me by not doing what it’s supposed to do, and this will probably make me refrain from buying another Nokia phone in the near future. Mobile phones are work accessories, and as such I can not be expected to have to fiddle with them this much to make basic stuff work.
So, coming back to the topic of my post: Nokia, if you don’t have the staff to implement Java and Bluetooth properly: go and get some new (or additional) developers – there are plenty of good ones out there. Don’t let your reputation be ruined by stuff that is known to be working for years.
Update: the comments on that post over at Mobitopia seem to show that the problems I mentioned are bothering lots of people.
2004-05-11: Another update – Michael Yuan has an excellent overview of the MMAPI capabilities of the Nokia 6600 and 6230. The conclusion is the same, however…