Nokia 6820 review

Jul 26 2004 - 01:07 PM ET | Nokia, Review
By Jon Gales -- When the Nokia 6800 was first released, it sent mobile phone circles abuzz thanks to the built in QWERTY keyboard. It wasn't a bulky looking smartphone--it was a pretty average looking flip phone--but it had a full keyboard (more on this later, including pictures). The 6800 lacked some things like Bluetooth, but was a great "first-rev" phone. The 6820 is the second revision and it has learned quite a bit.
Nokia 6820
GSM 800 / 1800 / 1900
4.21" x 1.85" x 0.79"
3.53 oz (100g)
LiIon - Talk 7 hours - Standby 240 hours
TFT LCD - 4096 colors - 128x128 pixels
Ring tones
Polyphonic - 16 Chords
Java J2ME
CIF resolution (352 x 288 pixels), video recording
3.5 MB
Fold out keyboard
The overall design is pretty similar to the original 6800, quite conservative. With some newer Nokia handsets coming with non-standard buttons, this isn't a bad thing. Here are the big new features in the Nokia 6820: * Camera * Bluetooth * EDGE high-speed data


The first thing I did with this phone is (quite obviously) try out the keyboard. It's a quick and easy fold over, and once it is folded out the screen changes to landscape mode. It defaults to the notes application if you don't have a space to type when you open the keyboard, making it really easy to jot down quick notes. The buttons are obviously smaller than on something like a laptop, but they are easy enough to get used to. If you have larger fingers, it might be prohibitively difficult, but I was able to touch-type most letters within an hour or two (but it took some practice!). Nokia 6820 Front The keyboard is not lit, which I think is a downfall. The lit keyboard on my PowerBook makes typing in the dark quite easy, it would likely do the same for the Nokia 6820. You do get some light that leaks from the LCD screen, but it's not enough to really see. Update: Rich Brome of PhoneScoop notes that the keyboard is lit--you just have to turn it on (I guess I am used to the automatic lights on my PowerBook). The key is on the very top left. Not sure how I missed it. Thanks Rich! I never thought about it before I got to play with the phone, but since the screen changes from portrait to landscape, the buttons on the face of the phone need to change too. That's why there are four buttons, on each side of the screen. Two of the buttons don't work, which two depends on what view you're in. It's easier to type on the keyboard when you have a surface. Since it's a two hand operation (if you want optimal speed), it's not quite like thumb typing on your typical phone. It's possible to do standing without a ledge, but you'll go much faster sitting down and having your lap or a table help out.


It doesn't have the biggest screen around, but it was bright and fit quite a bit of text. As I said before, it switches from portrait to landscape, which helps you fit even more text on the screen. The screen was a little hard to read in direct sunlight, but this is the fault of LCDs, not the Nokia 6820. It was manageable.


The 5-way joystick was a welcome sight. I have used too many phones lately that lack joysticks. It had a pretty good feel, but I like the joystick in the Sony Ericsson T6XX series just a tad bit better. They have a better click. The menus are standard Nokia. The 6820 has some smartphone features, but it does not run Symbian. I changed the menu to have 9 icons on the main menu screen instead of each taking up the whole screen. Nothing fancy, but with the joystick it speeds things up. The speed isn't bad, not too fast but no real lag. A little nitpick, but when the keyboard is out and the screen is flipped, the "enter" key (push down on the 5-way) is off to the right instead of in the middle. The OS has the options in the middle still, where there is no button. After a few seconds I realized that the enter key didn't change with the rest of the buttons. I liked how Nokia put short cuts on the 5-way so you can skip to things like the camera and calendar with one click. Since I am not a huge fan of Nokia menus, this made things nearly painless.


The reception on the Nokia 6820 was on par with other phones from Nokia. I didn't notice any big problems when I was within range, but I tested the phone outside of the recommended range for my network. Most of the voice quality testing occurred back in civilization, and once there the reception was great. There weren't any dropped calls. I tested this phone only on the AT&T Wireless network as it was a locked handset.


A welcome addition to the Nokia 6820 (the 6800 as I said before does not have Bluetooth). I don't think there should be a camera phone made without Bluetooth--it's the best way to get your pictures off. I have an Apple PowerBook that has Bluetooth built in, so it's ideal. When you're viewing a picture in the gallery, you just hit options and go to send and it searches for discoverable Bluetooth devices. It took no configuration. I also connected from the computer and browsed the Nokia 6820, here's what it looks like: As you can see, you can drag and drop all those different options. I only played with pictures and video, but they worked flawlessly. Videos come off in the standard 3GPP format, which QuickTime can play.

Included Applications

Typical Nokia Games (Backgammon, Water Raipds, Chess Puzzle, Bounce and Bowling). Other apps: World Clock II, Converter II and Portfolio II.


One of the new features in the Nokia 6820 (coming from the 6800) was a built in camera. It's not one of the now pretty standard VGA resolution cameras, and that shows pretty plainly in the results. So while this handset is a camera phone, I wouldn't buy it for the camera. You can also record video (with sound), so at least there is something that's not available on every handset. Several options are given for the camera, including a low-light mode and quality settings. Here is a typical quality shot: Picture taken with Nokia 6820 For anyone interested, another shot is posted here.

Instant messaging

Built-in AIM and ICQ. AIM client worked great, I didn't use ICQ because I do not have an active screen name. It was likely much like the AIM client though--lean and mean. I probably used instant message more than any other data feature. It has the ability to stay signed on even when you aren't in the application and will beep or vibrate when you get a new message.

Email/Text Messaging/Data

Since the 6820 has a keyboard, the text and data features should work pretty well. They didn't disappoint. Thanks to the keyboard I was able to type out various messages with decent speed. The e-mail was handled through mMode. Since the 6820 has EDGE, the data speeds weren't bad. It wasn't like the cable modem at home, but it was useable. I kept track of the score in one of the Tampa Bay Lightning (my home team) games in the Stanley Cup Finals via ESPN on the phone. Every 10 minutes or so I'd refresh and get the latest. The game went into overtime, but I hardly missed a beat. I didn't try to get internet access on my laptop through the phone since it is already set up for my Sony Ericsson, but it should be possible. Thanks to the Bluetooth, not only is it possible but it is wireless. Combined with EDGE data, this should be a pretty nice road warrior setup. Personally I get quite a bit of use out of T-Mobile's GPRS data, and would love the EDGE speed bump.


* Alarm clock * Calendar (Tip: on the main home screen of the phone, if you hit the joystick right, it skips right to the calendar). * To-Do list * Notes (when you open the keyboard and start typing it skips here) * Wallet * Sync (I didn't use it)

Final Verdict

Overall, I really liked the Nokia 6820. I got more use out of the Instant Messaging feature than I thought I would. The only thing that could have made text entry nicer would be a lit keyboard, but I didn't find myself trying to type in the dark too often (once or twice in the back of a car). A memory card would have been nice too, but since the camera wasn't that great I didn't really need 128MB of memory. Having EDGE really makes this phone ideal for people who want to do some data, but still want something can fit in the pocket easily. It's not as feature filled as a PDA, but it does what it attempts to do very well (the only exception being the camera which just didn't have enough quality for my tastes). You can purchase the Nokia 6820 for $29.99 after rebates from Since the phone lists for $350, this is a steal.