Nokia 6234

A small and lightweight 3G mobile, the Nokia 6234 is aimed at music lovers with its ability to store 1000 music tracks. Exclusive to the Vodafone Live! network, the 6234 also includes a microSD card slot for extra memory, integrated music player with full track MP3 download support, and a 2 megapixel camera with 8 x digital zoom.

Music

The 6234 can store up to 1000 songs with the inclusion of a microSD card slot. Unfortunately, Nokia only includes a 64MB card in the sales package, but the phone is compatible with cards up to 2GB. It is disappointing Nokia did not include a higher capacity memory card, as you are certainly unable to fit many songs on the paltry 64MB card that comes in the box.

The 6234 media player application supports a variety of file types including WMA, AAC, MP3 and M4A. These music files can be downloaded from the Vodafone Live! network, or transferred to the phone from a PC or other device via USB, Bluetooth or infrared. Unfortunately, there is no included USB cable in the sales package so you'll have to purchase this separately, and also download Nokia's PC Suite to use USB connectivity.

For a 3G phone marketed at music lovers, the 6234 music player is fairly standard. There is playlist support as well as random and repeat play options and a seven band preset equaliser. The external volume control on the right hand side is convenient, although we would have liked to have seen some extra external media buttons such as play, pause and skip tracks. You will also be annoyed by the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack since this means you'll have to use the standard proprietary headphones. The sound quality is average, as is the phone's external speaker.

Design

The 6234 puts the theory of large and bulky 3G phones to bed with a stylish, yet extremely compact and lightweight design. Measuring just 108mm x 16.5mm x 18mm and weighing a mere 108 grams, the 6234 is easy to slide into your pocket or bag but it also feels remarkably solid and well built for a phone this size. The handset is finished in a sleek stainless steel front, with a matt black back and sides and chrome buttons, making it quite stylish.

As well as looking good, the 6234 is also very easy to use thanks to a well laid out keypad and a speedy user interface. The keypad is slightly raised and the buttons easy to press, meaning long messages are a breeze. The keys have a soft blue backlight so they are easy to make out in the dark. The 6234 also includes a fairly standard set of controls - two selection buttons, answer and end call keys as well as a 5-way navigational pad. Our only complaint is with the size of the selection and call buttons - they are very small and thin so those with large fingers will have their patience tested.

Above the controls is a bright and clear QVGA screen capable of displaying 262,000 colours. The screen has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels and has an excellent viewing angle. Its performance in direct sunlight was also pretty impressive, as we were still able to make out the menus and type a text message while walking outside. It was also excellent for full screen video clips, which can be viewed horizontally.

Features

The 6234 includes a 2 megapixel camera with 8 x digital zoom, but the lack of a flash is disappointing. The pictures produced are standard for a camera phone - adequate for a couple of happy snaps, but not good enough to compete with a stand alone digital camera if you are after any sort of serious photography. Photos can be taken in landscape mode and the location of the dedicated camera button means it can be held like a regular digital camera. Nokia includes a few settings such as night mode, a 10 second self-timer, image sequence, white balance settings in addition to greyscale, negative and sepia effects. There is also a video recorder, but the quality produced is below average.

Being a 3G phone, video calling is offered, but there is no camera on the front of the 6234. This means you'll be able to see the person you are calling, but they won't be able to see you. Considering 3G phones are well known for video calls, the absence of a front mounted camera is an oversight. Other features include support for standard SMS, MMS and email messaging with T9 predictive text input, a WAP 2.0 browser, hands free speakerphone, FM radio and Java support. There is also a number of PIM functions including world clock, alarm, calendar, to-do list, notes, calculator, timer, stopwatch and voice recorder.

Nokia rates the 6234 at up to 4 hours of talk time and 340 hours of standby time. We found when using the music or media player for long periods of time the battery drains fairly quickly, so if you listen to music everyday, you will have to change the handset every night.

Overall, the 6234 is a compact and smart looking 3G handset that's impressive for its size. But if you are after a music phone, we'd advise to look elsewhere as there are too many features lacking to recommend this handset specifically for its multimedia functions.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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