Review of the Nokia 6016i

The 6016i is a low-end CDMA phone that actually has some very top-end qualities. Unfortunately all is not rosy, but this might very well be an excellent choice for those considering a Bell Mobility phone with superb RF sensitivity.


The Nokia 6016i is available through Bell Mobility.

Last Updated: 30-Aug-2005

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.

RF Performance

RF Sensitivity: I really wished Iíd had with me some of the other CDMA phones to which Iíve given high marks in this category, because the 6016i seemed to be one of the best phones Iíd ever tested for picking up a weak signal on Bell Mobility. All I had to compare against was my old Motorola ST-7868W, and the 6016i totally put that one to shame. So much so in fact that it is possible that the 6016i has one of the best RF sensitivity ratings of any CDMA phone Iíve thus far tested. Maybe one day Iíll be able to put it in a head-to-head contest against other phones that do well in this regard.

Over-the-road Performance: Wow, this model made driving around with a CDMA phone seem almost as good a Qualcomm always hyped it to be. Through areas where my ST-7868W (which has very good over-the-road performance to begin with) would show signs of weakness (garbled audio and dropouts) the 6016i would soldier on as if nothing was wrong. If I were to rate this phone based solely upon it RF performance, Iíd have to give it the gold medal immediately.

Click on this link for a full description of RF Performance, and how to interpret it.

Audio Performance

Tonal Balance: Like many Nokia CDMA phones Iíve tested of late the 6016i has excellent tonal balance. The balance of highs and lows was both pleasant and extremely understandable. Earpiece volume was also quite good, even when used in a noisy environment.

Sound Reproduction: Well, it seems that every ointment seems to have a fly in it, and the 6016iís fly is sound reproduction. Like other Nokia CDMA phones Iíve tested in the last year or two, the 6016i sounded decided coarse and raspy compared to the smooth-sounding audio of many of the current phones based on the Qualcomm chipset. When I called various test recordings I found that what were smooth ďsĒ sounds on other phones (GSM and iDEN) were distorted on the 6016i. This is a phenomenon called sibilance.

Outgoing sound quality is slightly better than average for a 1X phone, but that isnít saying much. The 6016i has okay outgoing audio in a quiet environment, but it quickly gets worse when things get noisy (such as you might find even in a quiet car on the highway). It is nowhere near as good as the Kyocera Slider, which is so far the best-sounding CDMA 1X phone for outgoing audio that Iíve thus far tested.

Speakerphone: I had expected to be quite impressed with the speakerphone feature, given the great showings Iíd seen recently on other Nokia models. Those models use an excellent sounder that doubles as a super-loud ringer. This isnít the case on the 6016i. All it does is jack up the volume of the earpiece as much as possible, which IS NOT very loud. Itís fine for when youíre put on hold, and even then, only in a quiet environment.

Click on this link for a full description of Audio Performance, and how to interpret it.

Support Features

Ringer Volume: The ringer volume was also quite disappointing; especially in light of how loud itís been on many other Nokia phones Iíve tested recently. This issue is related to the poor speakerphone performance, in that Nokia did not use that super-loud sounder that appears on many of their other new models. Donít expect to hear this phone ringing in your purse in a noisy shopping mall. However, the phone does have a strong vibrator, so if you put it in your pocket youíll at least feel it if you donít hear it.

Keypad Design: While not as horrific as the double-ended keys on the Nokia 3205, the keypad still uses relatively flush keys that seem to be a current Nokia trademark. They have pretty good tactile feel, but it is difficult to feel one key from another when you try to use the phone without looking at. However, because of the overall feel I donít think many people will be especially displeased with this design of this keypad.

Display: As this phone doesnít have a camera, nor is it intended for viewing pictures or doing other fancy PDA-like functions, it is only endowed with Nokiaís run-of-the-mill low resolution color display. This is really one of those phones that SHOULD have a monochrome display that would be easier to see in bright sunlight. Alas, Nokia obviously feels that monochrome displays are now strictly passť, and so it saddles this base-model phone with a so-so color display that difficult to see outdoors.


When it comes to the BIG FOUR qualities of RF sensitivity, over-the-road performance, tonal balance, and sound reproduction; the 6016i does only one poorly, and the other three superbly. If I were in the market for a CDMA phone Iíd probably prefer excellent over-the-road performance to sound reproduction (such as the 6016i provides), but if Nokia could just lick that problem theyíd have a killer CDMA chipset.

The poor sound reproduction of the 6016i causes me to fall short of proclaiming this phone as one of the best CDMA models out there, and the other niggles, such as poor ringer volume, poor speakerphone performance, and the so-so display make it less than a stellar buy. However, if sound reproduction doesnít really bug you one way or another, then the fabulous performance of the phone otherwise does make a temping choice to consider if you have decided to go with Bell Mobility.