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Nokia 6820 GSM Phone

Posted March 2004 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

The Nokia 6820 has just appeared in the US market and is available online from AT&T Wireless. If you're familiar with the Nokia 6800, this model adds many more features and is smaller. This GSM feature phone has all the bells and whistles that phone power users want, and then some! It's got an integrated camera, Bluetooth, color display, basic PIM functions, and runs on AT&T's EDGE (Enhanced Data rates or GSM Evolution) network. The 6820 isn't a Smartphone, but rather a Series 40 phone with Java. However, it may be the perfect companion to your PDA or notebook thanks to its integrated Bluetooth, IR and fast EDGE network performance. And of course, its most salient feature: the flip open to full QWERY keyboard design, is perfect for those who short message on the go, or need to send quick emails.

Nokia 6820

Nokia 6820

Side view of the hinge as the phone opens.


Design and Ergonomics

Those of you who are familiar with the 6800 will feel at home with the 6820. Both models look like a standard Nokia phone, but flip open to reveal a QWERTY keyboard. While the 6800 was by no means a large phone, Nokia managed to pack many more features into the 6820 while reducing its size noticeably. The 6820 is quite small and light, and sports an attractive silver, blue metallic and white finish. The screen orientation automatically changes to landscape when the phone is flipped open to reveal the keyboard. The four control buttons that flank each corner of the display automatically switch functions as well, so all controls and features are available in both modes.

The Nokia has a standard number pad, call send and end buttons, a power button on the upper right corner and three control buttons whose functions vary depending on the current context. In addition it has a mini 5-way joystick which you'll use to navigate on-screen menus, move the cursor in text messages and speed launch selected apps (left=SMS, right=calendar, up=camera, down=contacts. Right can be reassigned to launch the app of your choice). When in a call, moving the joystick left and right will raise and lower call volume.

The 6820 has a Pop-Port for use with Pop-Port headsets and car kits. It comes with an 850 mA removable battery, and ran for 3 days on a charge with moderate phone use and light Bluetooth use. Like most recent phones, the Nokia supports profiles and comes with six: General, Meeting, Silent, My style 1 and My style 2.



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Nokia 6820

The Nokia 6820 opened for keyboard use.

The Nokia 6800 left, and the 6820, right.

Reception, Voice and Phone Features

The Nokia has a lighted number pad, and both the numbers and two vertical bars that run between the number keys illuminate white when you first wake up the phone from standby or press a key. The backlighting will turn off at the same time the screen backlight turns off to conserve power. The phone has keyguard, which you can activate by selecting Menu, then pressing the asterisk (*) key. You can turn off keyguard by selecting Unlock, then pressing the asterisk key, or simply by pressing the Talk button when a call comes in. Voice features include speed dialing, call waiting, caller ID, speakerphone, conference calling, SMS and MMS. The 6820 comes with 14 polyphonic (MIDI) ring tones (you can install more if you wish) and 8 color themes.

The phonebook can hold up to 500 entries, has speed dial, supports up to 10 voice dial numbers (you'll record your own voice tags), offers voice commands for up to 9 available menu items (5 active at the same time) and can record memos/conversations up to 90 seconds in duration. The unit has a call log that tracks missed calls, received calls and dialed calls. As you'd expect, you can dial using a call log entry, and reset the call log whenever you wish. The call log also tracks GPRS connection times and the amount of data transferred.

Keyboard and Display

The Nokia has a full thumb-typeable QWERTY keyboard, and it and the 6800 are the only models with a traditional phone form factor to offer this useful feature. Flip open the phone and you'll be greeted by a keyboard that has 5 rows: the top row is dedicated to numbers, the next three rows are for letters and the bottom row has shift/caps lock and a space bar on both the right and left sides. Kudos to Nokia for giving us two shift keys, an easy to find "@" symbol and on-screen as well as keyboarded common punctuation and symbols. While the keys are quite small, the keyboard is still quite usable and it certainly beats T9 as an input method! It can't compete with the Blackberry thumb keyboard, but the Blackberry is large and unergonomic as a phone. The keys don't automatically light, so you'll press the keyboard light button on the upper left corner of the keyboard to turn lighting on and off.


At 128 x 128 pixels, the display is just large enough to work with SMS messages. Of course, if the screen were larger, the phone would be larger and battery life shorter. The 12 bit display has 4,096 colors and looks decent when viewing photos and great when playing games. The LCD is very viewable outdoors in direct sunlight.

Synchronization, EDGE and Bluetooth Connections

The Nokia uses PC Suite for Windows to sync data between phone and a computer. You can sync using Bluetooth, IR or via the optional cable. In addition, the phone supports syncing over the air to an online sync service. Yyou can also transfer data between the phone and a PDA using Bluetooth or IR— for example, you can send a contact to the phone from a Palm Tungsten T3 via Bluetooth. Using PC Suite, you can sync contacts, calendar items, to-do items and notes, as well as transfer photos and videos taken with the camera to your PC. You'll use PC Suite to install Java games (or you can download them over the air), and it includes modem drivers for the phone.

Nokia does an excellent job with Bluetooth, and I had no trouble pairing the phone to a Tungsten T3 (note the T3 has been hard to pair for some users), and to Pocket PCs such as the Dell Axim X5 and Toshiba e805 using Ambicom's Bluetooth CF card for Pocket PCs, as well as an HP iPAQ 5555 using built-in Bluetooth (note that there seems to be a problem with the iPAQ 19xx and 22xx Bluetooth firmware and these won't work correctly with the 6820). Once paired, I used the 6820 as a wireless modem for the PDAs on AT&T Wireless' EDGE network. I got speeds in the 40k range in Northern California. EDGE is an enhanced GPRS wireless data connection that should offer speeds close to 100k (rivaling Verizon and Sprint's 1xRTT service), but so far speeds have been closer to the top end of GPRS. Speeds will likely be a bit faster if you're using the phone as a modem for a notebook computer since those are able to sustain faster network connections compared to current PDAs. Hopefully as the network matures, speeds will increase. The phone will automatically connect to the EDGE network if available, so you don't have to do any configuration.

In addition, we tested the Nokia with a variety of Bluetooth Headsets including the Bluespoon Chameleon and the Logitech Mobile Headset and had no trouble pairing and using them with the phone.


What feature phone would be complete without a camera? The Nokia 6820 has a CIF camera capable of shooting still JPEG images at 352 x 288 pixels resolution and it can also shoot video with audio. Camera modes include Standard photo, Portrait photo, and Night mode. The camera has three quality settings, allows you to turn the shutter sound on and off, and manually specify image titles. Videos are saved in H.263 (SubQCIF) format and are limited in duration only by the amount of available internal memory. Audio quality is very good (excellent for subjects within 5 feet of the phone), while video and still image quality are average for a camera phone of this resolution. Images and videos are good enough to send to other multimedia phone users, and sending them via MMS is quite simple: just choose Send from Options when viewing the image/video.

Included Applications

The 6820 comes with a suite of PIM applications including contacts, calendar, to-do list, notes and an alarm clock. You will also find applications that will work with your camera, images, videos and voice recording. The connectivity tools include built-in Bluetooth and IR. The 6820 supports Java and comes with a world clock, calculator, Wallet (for storing credit card info for online transactions), a WAP browser and a converter. In addition, several games are bundled with the phone: Bounce, Bowling, Chess Puzzle, Water Rapids and Backgammon.

Contacts- Contacts supports up to 500 entries, with up to 9 fields per entry. You can attach an image to a contact (JPEG, GIF, WBMP, PNG and OTABMP). The number of contacts to whom you can assign an image varies depending on the amount of remaining phone memory. You can assign speed dial and voice dial entries to contacts.

Calendar- The calendar has a day view and a month view. Dates with appointments appear bolded in month view. You can send appointments (called Notes in Nokia-speak) to a compatible phone devices via Bluetooth and IR as calendar entries, SMS or MMS. You can set old calendar entries to be deleted automatically after a period of time, though repeat events such as birthdays won't be deleted.

To-Do list- This is a very simple to-do list where you can add new to-do notes, view the current to-do items or mark to-do items as done. When you add a new to-do note, you can specify the Due date and Priority (high, medium or low).

Notes- You can write notes up to 3,000 characters in length using the built-in keyboard (or number pad, but why would you?). Notes can be sent via IR, Bluetooth, SMS and MMS. Using Options, you can insert the current date and time into the note. The phone will warn you if you try to send the note via SMS and the maximum length is exceeded.

Email- This is a Java program that runs faster than the 6800's Java email client. It supports POP3 and IMAP for incoming servers and SMTP (including SMTP Auth) for outgoing mail servers. You can manually specify the server port.


A great phone packed with features! It's a very small and light mobile, yet thanks to the clever design it packs a full thumb keyboard. Excellent Bluetooth implementation, EDGE high speed data connection, and a camera in one small and reasonably priced package. It runs on AT&T Wireless' new 850 MHz band (as well as the standard US 1900 MHz band) for best coverage. Definitely a must have for those who message on the go, and competes nicely with the Sony Ericsson T610/T616.

Suggested list price $349, currently $229 from Cingular Wireless in the US with contract



Display: TFT color LCD, 12 bit, 4096 colors. Screen resolution: 128 pixels wide x 128 pixels high.

Battery Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. 850 mA. Claimed battery life: talk Time 3 hours (according to Nokia's web site, 7 hours according to the manual), 12 days standby.

Performance: ~4 megs internal memory.

size: 4.69 in. x 2.17 in. x 0.91 in. Weight Approximately 3.5 oz.

Expansion Slot: None.

Phone: GSM triband world phone GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/1800/1900 MHz. GPRS and EDGE for data. A GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz version is available for carriers other than AT&T Wireless.

Audio: Built in speaker and speakerphone. Mic with voice recorder functionality. Supports Pop-Port headsets and Bluetooth headsets.

Software: Series 40 operating system. Java support. WAP browser, Messaging application for email, SMS and MMS. Also supports Instant Messaging via AIM and ICQ. Image viewer and video player, Camera application, Call Log, Calculator, Wallet (for storing credit card info to be used for online purchases), Calendar, Contacts, Notes and To-Do list. Preloaded Java applications: E-mail Client, Instant Messaging, Converter, World Clock, Portfolio Manager and games: Bounce, Bowling, Chess Puzzle, Water Rapids and Backgammon.


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