With the 6800, Nokia demonstrates once again that it is one of the most creative phone makers today.
This radical handset, first announced in Beijing on Monday, can be employed in two modes. While upright, the 6800 can be used like any candy bar-style phone. But the chassis of the handset is actually designed to open up like a clamshell, revealing a full QWERTY keyboard inside. The phone can then be used horizontally as well.
The 6800's opening mechanism is similar to the Motorola V.70, only that the former swings open from the front rather than from the side. Like the V.70, the same display shows up whether the 6800's flip is opened or closed.
The phone even detects whether it's in upright or horizontal mode, and rotates the display to the correct orientation accordingly. This means you can compose a message halfway using normal predictive text, then open the phone, tilt it 90 degrees and finish the message using the QWERTY keyboard.
The 6800 features a color display, wireless Java, polyphonic ringing tones, stereo FM receiver, as well as a wallet feature for secure commerce transactions.
From a hands-on preview of a pre-production unit, the Nokia 6800 appears quite well-designed. The full QWERTY keyboard should allow for faster SMS typing, without compromising too much on the look and feel. Unlike the Nokia 5510 which suffered from its bulk, the 6800 retains a reasonable size with a 119 x 23mm footprint when closed. Still, its 22mm thickness and 122g weight may put off some users. Also, because the front flip has keypads on both sides, the buttons have a relatively shallow feel.
The 6800 is expected to hit the streets in the first quarter of next year. Pricing details are currently not available.