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The 6790 Surge is an interesting recent release by Nokia. It is a midrange handset, with basic amenities and without any frills whatsoever. It has a striking design, which will be explored in further detail later on.
The Surge was evidently intended to be a texting phone, with a few smartphone features thrown in for good measure. Individuals who spend hours on their phone texting their contacts will find the keyboard very comfortable indeed.
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The first impression of the Nokia Surge is not a good one. Although it is a matter of personal taste, the phone looks quite ugly. It is admittedly lightweight at a mere 123.9 gm, but the appearance is of a bulky phone, measuring 97.5 by 57.9 by 15.5 mm.
The front has a smallish 2.4” screen, with a plethora of hardware buttons along the bottom edge, when held in portrait. There is an unsightly and uneven bevelled edging around the screen, with a depression along the top left side. The use of this depression becomes apparent when using the phone in portrait mode, as it assists in sliding the screen upwards to reveal the hardware QWERTY keyboard below.
The right edge of the phone has a volume rocker switch and a dedicated camera key, sitting flush against the casing. The left side only has the microUSB port, stowed away under a protective flap. The top edge has a speaker, the charging port and the 3.5 mm microphone jack. The back panel has a 2 megapixel camera, without any of the usual accompaniments. The SIM card slot and the microSD card slot can be found on opening the back panel.
The material of the phone is glossy, black and plastic, which contributes greatly to the lightweight feeling. However, the phone feels fragile and the glossy plastic is a fingerprint magnet.
The real disappointment of the phone is the average-sized screen. There seems to be a tremendous amount of wasted space, something that could be redesigned to fit a larger screen with a better resolution than 320 x 240 pixels.
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The handset is very comfortable to use because of its light weight, and it fits securely in the hand. The unsightly lip on the top bevel proves to be a good fulcrum to push the screen off the keyboard. There are a number of dedicated buttons on the top, which open the messaging and media applications easily.
However, the phone was primarily designed to be used in landscape mode, with the keyboard. As a result there is no numeric keypad on the top of the phone, which makes dialling quite cumbersome. It is simple enough to search for contacts, but a quick call seems to be a distant possibility at best.
The operating system is Symbian S60, which is well on its way to becoming vintage. The graphics and the menu are typically Symbian with limited customization. The grid layout is easily navigable, especially for previous users of Nokia phones.
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The hardware QWERTY keyboard is one of the best features of the phone, as it makes typing a truly delightful experience. The keys are large, spaced close together and backlit for maximum typing efficiency. It is ideal for text messaging and email applications.
The messaging application is standard, without any frills. It can be accessed directly using the dedicated hardware button. The email application is not very good, as it has trouble identifying some of the more popular email service providers – and therefore is very cumbersome to set up.
The web browser is adequate for viewing web pages tailored to mobile phones, although anything more complicated proves to be difficult. A larger screen would have enhanced the experience considerably. Additionally, there is no Wi-Fi available on the phone, therefore the user must rely on a data plan to connect to the Internet.
The camera is below average at 2 megapixels. It does not have flash, or a reflective surface for self portraits. The quality of the photographs is ordinary, and severely hampered by the quality of the hardware. It is possible to shoot video using the phone but the results are far from satisfactory. The phone camera cannot be considered useful for anything apart from emergencies or contact profile pictures.
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The performance of the phone is excellent, with no perceptible lag whatsoever. The accelerometer flips the screen without any problem and the applications load quickly. The handset has smartphone capabilities so it is possible to have more than one application open at a time.
The call quality is good, although making calls is tedious. There is little distortion of sound whether the call is in loudspeaker mode or not. The battery carries the phone through 5 hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby, which is more than adequate.
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The phone is intended to provide a less expensive alternative to a fully-fledged smartphone, without cutting back too much on the features. However, apart from the keyboard, it does not succeed.
The handset design leaves much to be desired, especially in terms of simple elements like a numeric keypad that is easily accessible. The screen could have been larger and the overall appearance is not attractive.
The features are somewhat better, and although they may be an improvement on dumb phones, they fall far short of smartphone quality. One of the more unforgivable flaws is the exclusion of Wi-Fi. The Internet component and the camera can be ignored entirely.
All in all, the phone will do well in the hands of someone whose phone interaction is predominantly texting.