Nokia’s midrange C6 is effectively a budget version of last year’s N97 but still manages to pack in a slide-out Qwerty keyboard, Wi-Fi, HSDPA, a 5Mp camera and A-GPS with turn-by-turn satnav as standard. Being the C6-00, it runs on the Symbian S60 5th Edition, unlike the C6-01 unveiled at Nokiaworld this month, which runs Symbian^3 and won’t hit the shelves before the end of the year.

The C6-00 is a bit of a brick, at 113 x 53 x 17mm and 150g, largely due to the slide-out keyboard. At first glance it looks very similar to the N97, but with a cheaper, more plasticky feel. It doesn’t do that angled screen thing either, as the keyboard merely slides straight out, which isn’t as fancy, but that’s no great loss. More worrying is that the top half of the phone sits a bit high on the bottom half, with the result that it feels a little wobbly when closed.
The keyboard is a good one, with 39 backlit keys made from tactile rubberised plastic. They’re slightly raised in the middle, so they’re easy to find under the thumbs, plus there’s a large five-way navpad for navigation. There’s a decent amount of travel and feedback in the keys too and my only gripe would be that there’s room for more alternative key options for symbols and punctuation – ten keys have no alternate options at all, which seems like a waste.

The screen measures 3.2in and offers 640 x 360 resolution (nHD, as Nokia calls it) with 16.7 million colours. It looks beautifully sharp and colourful, but it’s resistive rather than capacitive, which is never a preferable option. That said, it’s reasonably sensitive, and not too frustrating to use.

Beneath it is a sliver of three hard buttons for call start and stop plus a menu button. The sides feature a volume rocker, screen lock switch, camera shutter and a MicroSD memory card slot hidden under a plastic grommet. As we’ve come to expect from Nokia, it comes with a memory card as standard, in this case 2GB.

The power slot is on the bottom, while the top has a 3.5mm headphone jack and micro USB power/sync slot beneath a grommet. The back features the 5Mp camera lens and LED flash and, incidentally, there’s a QVGA camera on the front for video calls.

The Symbian OS offers the by now familiar six rows of customisable shortcuts and widgets. At the top is time and date plus phone mode (general, silent etc) and beneath that is a user-defined row of shortcuts that defaults to messaging, Internet, Ovi Maps and the Ovi store.

There’s room for four favourite contacts with pics below that. Then, there’s Facebook, e-mail and another customisable row that you can populate with any shortcuts you like – out of the box it came with picture gallery, camera, calendar and notes. It’s a solidly capable system that allows you to access virtually everything you need direct from your home page, which is just as well, since there’s only one.

Still, it can be a little slow when switching between applications and proved frequently frustrating; taking its time even when all I wanted to do was wake it up to answer a call. The Facebook widget shows your latest three updates and pressing it takes you into the full application. It’s a pity though that you can’t add your Facebook contacts to your phone book as you can with Android phones for instance. There’s no direct integration for Twitter either, though you can add an app from the Ovi store and include it on your home page.

Setting up e-mail accounts is easy enough though, requiring just address and password in most cases and there’s support for Exchange, as well as a range of instant messaging options, including Windows Live Hotmail, Ovi Mail and Yahoo Mail.

There’s fast access to the Internet with HSDPA or Wi-Fi broadband and the Symbian browser renders pages well. It has a single menu button in the corner to bring up zoom, search and go to options, as well as a deeper menu with bookmarks, keyword search and RSS feeds among others.

The camera has an unspectacular range of features including 4x digital zoom, multi-shot and macro mode, as well as settings for colour tone, white balance, contrast, sharpness and exposure. It takes about five seconds to fire up, so it’s not great for quick snaps, but picture quality is generally good, with a fair degree of detail and accurate colours.

That said, it does appear to be a bit quick to suffer from overexposure in bright light conditions. Video records in VGA resolution at 30fps and offers reasonably smooth motion, though it’s not great at handling detail overall.

The music player is easy to find your way round but the sound is distinctly bass-light using the supplied cheapy headphones, though you can easily upgrade them thanks to the 3.5mm headphone jack or Bluetooth and there’s an equaliser to tweak the sound to suit your ears.

There’s an FM radio on board too as well as Shazam’s music ID service and there’s also access to the Ovi Music store along with Nokia’s not-bad Comes With Music service, which offers a large range of downloads for a monthly fee. It will play MP3, WMA and AAC files.

Battery life is surprisingly weak on the C6, especially since Nokia has been notably strong in this area in the past. I barely managed a day of moderate to heavy use on it, which didn’t really seem like enough.