My blog

Nokia 6120 classic

I got a Nokia 6120 classic a year and a half ago. At the time, consolidating my phone and Internet connection onto the one device made financial sense, so I signed up for a pretty cheap 3 X-Series plan and the phone was free on the plan. I did some research around the web and most places said it was an OK phone and in fact actually really good value for money considering it was a “smartphone”. I have used Nokias before and generally found them to be OK, but I had never used an S60 device, nor a 3G device.

I was in for a disappointment.

The first thing I noticed with the phone was that it was hot! (No, not in the good sense.) It got unbearably hot to hold against my ear after a few minutes of conversation on the phone. Perhaps if I lived in Siberia, it could be considered a “feature”, but I think even the Siberians would find it hot. I took it back to the store thinking that I had a faulty device, but the salesperson told me that the phones run hot and that Nokia’s official word was that they were operating within normal parameters.

With that much heat being pumped out, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the battery life was appalling (at least compared to my old 2G phone). I can barely get 2 days out of the battery and usually only one day if I use it heavily.

The S60 user interface can best be described as “clunky”. In no particular order, here are my annoyances:
  • By default, incoming calls flash the backlight when the phone is set to the Silent profile. This makes the screen very hard to read, especially if I just want to quickly glance at the phone (like when driving). I fixed this problem by setting the volume control in the Silent profile to one notch above zero. The phone now does a very quiet “beep” when I get incoming calls in Silent mode.
  • The incoming call text is too small. The phone has a nice big screen, so I don’t see why it can’t use a bigger font.
  • The SMS message list display shows names with surname first and it can’t be changed. I want first names to appear first.
  • No Mac support, though this was fortunately fixed by hacking my own iSync plugin and finding a modem script at Ross Barkman’s website. I later found a better iSync plugin at Tao of Mac.
  • The clock screen saver is too small. Why not use the nice big screen to its full potential? I found a free app that works quite well called cClock. (At the time I downloaded it, I had to sign the app myself which was a bit of a pain. The latest version is pre-signed.)
  • The Standby screen (i.e. the default screen when the phone isn’t doing anything) has a date display, but the date is hidden and the profile name is displayed instead when a profile other than General is selected. There’s plenty of room on the screen, so I don’t see why this is necessary.
  • The themes are terrible. Some themes look nice, but it makes some of the text completely unreadable. I finally downloaded a theme called “Pearl White” that seems to fix most problems.
  • I could use the camera flash on my old Samsung phone as a flashlight as it would stay on for about half a minute, but not with this phone.
  • The phone has a standard mini-USB port, but it doesn’t charge through it. There is a separate power jack for charging. I often tether the phone to my computer to use the Internet, but to do that I have to find a power socket for the phone, otherwise the battery would be dead in less than 2 hours.
  • I use the raised four-way navigation button to orient the phone in my hand without looking (especially when grabbing the phone from my pocket). Unfortunately, the camera at the back of the phone has a very similar square raised edge around the lens, so I often find myself holding the phone backwards and upside-down.
  • The alarm flashes the backlight. This makes it hard to read which button to press to stop or snooze the alarm.
  • The calendar application icon always shows “30” regardless of what the date is in most of the Nokia themes.
  • A “Note: Active divert” message always appears when making calls. I really don’t need to be reminded that I have my voicemail activated every time I make a phone call.
  • When making a call, the right soft button acts as an “End call” button. Once the call is connected, the button becomes a “Loudspeaker” button (i.e. speakerphone). This is incredibly annoying when I want to make a speakerphone call (e.g. in a car) as I have to wait for the moment the call is connected. I have no idea why a second “End call” button is needed when the red hang-up button is more than sufficient.
  • There are keypad shortcuts for menu navigation, but only for the top levels. Keypad navigation stops working when I go into any of the phone settings menus.
  • The built-in mail app can’t see any folders other than your inbox.
  • The Standby screen displays to-do entries, but if I have any more than one to-do entry, it simply states: “X to-do notes not done”. This happens even when there is acres of empty white space on the Standby screen.
Despite the user interface being very annoying, I’ve become hooked on a lot of the features of the phone. I love being able to surf the web on my phone and you’ll often find me checking my Gmail account, catching up on RSS feeds in Google Reader and reading status messages on Facebook.

I also love having a decent calendar in the phone. I have my work calendar in Google Calendar. This syncs to iCal on my Mac which I then sync to the phone with iSync. I have a two-way sync for my personal calendar entries and a read-only view of my work calendar. Exactly what I need.

A friend pointed out a couple free books I could read online and I found I could download a version onto my phone from This worked surprisingly well and I’ve read a couple books now on my phone. It’s not the greatest reading experience, but it’s quite nice to be able to keep a couple books in my pocket and catch up on some reading when I’ve got a few moments to kill.