Nokia has grown its flip-phone stable slowly but surely over the last couple years, and the 6126 is one of the latest models in the series. The black-and-mirrored-silver color scheme is attractive, and we like the smooth, rounded edges and the lack of an external antenna. At 3.6 by 1.9 by 0.8 inches, it's not a Razr by any means, but it still sports a pleasingly sleek and compact form factor. Front and center is the attractive 1.5-inch, 128x160-pixel external display. With support for 262,144 colors, this is a vast improvement over many other Nokia external screens, and it displayed colors and graphics well. It shows the time, the battery life, the signal strength, and photo or video caller ID. You can change the backlight time, the screen saver, and the wallpaper. Above the display is the camera lens. There's no flash or self-portrait mirror, but the external display functions as a viewfinder for those vanity shots. On the left spine is a volume rocker, while a camera control and a power button sit on the right spine.
A final external control rests on the right side of the hinge. Though at first glance it looks as if it could perform just about any function, a quick press revealed that it's a release mechanism for the front flap. You don't need this button to open the phone--it opens just fine the old-fashioned way--but it's fun to use and is much more effective than the push-and-release method on the Motorola Pebl. The phone opens with enough force to flip up quickly but not so much force that we felt it might fly out of our hand. What's more, the button is tactile, and the mechanism seems sturdy enough overall. Yes, it's all a bit gimmicky, but we still approve. Be advised, however, that the hinge closes somewhat stiffly.
Whichever method you use to open the 6126, you'll be drawn immediately to the brilliant main display. At 2.2 inches, with 240x320 pixels and support for an awe-inspiring 16 million colors, the 6126's screen puts most other comparable mid-tier cell phones to shame. Colors and text popped, and everything from photos to graphics to games to animations were displayed beautifully. You can change the font size and the backlighting time, and though you can't alter the brightness, it didn't seem to matter. What's more, the presence of the Nokia Series 40 platform means the user experience and the menus are vivid and intuitive.
Below the display are the simple navigation controls, which consist of a four-way toggle with an OK/menu button in its center, two soft keys, and the Talk and End controls. The toggle can be set to give one-touch access to four user-defined shortcuts, and you can designate the two soft keys as shortcuts, as well. One available option even includes a shortcut bar with a selection of user-defined applications. Overall, the navigation array was large and easy to use, though we did find the keys a little slick. Also, with the exception of the toggle and the OK button, the buttons are set flat with the surface of the phone. Likewise, the brightly backlit keypad buttons left us a bit divided. While they are large, tactile, and raised above the surface of the phone, they're a bit slippery, as well. That said, we liked the mirrored frame that surrounds the keys.
Another minor quibble we had with the design is that the MicroSD card slot is located behind the battery cover. You don't need to remove the battery itself (an improvement over earlier Nokia models), but you do need to remove the cover. This is not a huge deal, but it's worth noting. On the upside, however, we liked the textured covering on the rear flap.
The main feature attractions of the Nokia 6126 lie with its multimedia capabilities, but we'll get to the basics first. The large 1,000-contact phone book has room in each entry for five phone numbers, e-mail and Web addresses, a job title and a company name, work and home street addresses, a birth date, a nickname, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). You can organize callers into groups or pair them with one of the 13, 64-chord, polyphonic ring tones. You can also pair them with photos and videos for caller ID and photos to show up on the external display. Other offerings include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a world clock, a voice recorder (limited by the available memory), a calendar with reminders, a to-do list, a notepad, a countdown timer, a stopwatch, and an alarm clock.
Hands-free features were plentiful, as well. There's full Bluetooth for connecting to a headset or for sending files, plus voice dialing and commands and a speakerphone. For worker bees, there's also POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail support, audio messaging for sending voicemails directly to another cell phone, and USB cable support. Offbeat features included a translator for English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese; the Nokia sensor application for sending personal messages to other Bluetooth phones; and a Presenter application that allows you to control a PowerPoint presentation or other Microsoft Windows application from the 6126 by connecting via Bluetooth to a PC (you'll need the Nokia PC suite). Finally we liked that you could use many of these functions even when no SIM card is inserted in the phone.
The 6126 has a 1.3-megapixel camera that takes pictures in six resolutions: 1,024x1,280, 960x1,290, 600x800, 480x640, 240x320, and 120x160. You get a variety of camera settings including three quality modes, six color effects, a 10-second self timer, a sequence mode for shooting three photos in rapid successions and an 8X zoom. The only thing missing is a brightness setting, but we're willing to overlook that omission. The camcorder shoots 3GPP videos in one resolution (176x144) with sound. The default mode lasts just 6 seconds, but you can also shoot longer clips, depending on the available memory. Image quality was just above average for a 1.3-megapixel camera phone. Colors and subject outlines were distinct, but images weren't very bright, and smaller objects tended toward fuzziness. Video clips were fine--a bit grainy, as expected, but suitable for short clips. Besides saving photos to the phone, you can also send them via Bluetooth or a multimedia message or use the USB cable to transfer them to a computer or a compatible printer with Nokia's XpressPrint service.