Review of the Nokia 6265i

The 6265i is one of the newest CDMA model from Nokia. Like some of their recent clamshell models, this one too departs from the norm for Nokia, who generally build candy bar phones. The 6265i is a SLIDER, which means that the top and bottom halves of the phone slide to make the phone longer and reveal a hidden keypad.


This phone is available through Telus PCS

Last Updated: 28-Jun-2006

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

Sadly the 6265i may be the LAST designed-by-Nokia CDMA phone that we may ever see. Just before I did this review Nokia announced that it would no longer design CDMA phones, though it would put its name on re-branded models designed and manufactured by other companies. Equally sad is the fact that this might well be the best Nokia CDMA phone to come along, which means there was a promise of better things to come.

RF Performance

RF Sensitivity: All of the Nokia CDMA phones Iíve tested over the last year or so have had excellent RF sensitivity, and the 6265i is no exception. A new site activated just outside of Square One forced me to find new locations in the mall to test this aspect of a Telus PCS model, which also meant I couldnít really compare it with older models Iíd previously tested at the mall. However, compared to my old ST-7868W the 6265i is incredibly good at picking up a weak signal and rendering fairly decent audio. It is therefore among the best phones around when it comes to pulling in the faintest of signals.

The next day I met with Howard Chu and he brought along his Nokia 3205, which we took with us to Rockwood Mall. I was certain that Telus had PCS repeaters in that mall along with Mike, but apparently they didn't. Coverage in the mall on Telus PCS was exceedingly poor and a perfect place to test the two phones. Both held up equally well, which meant that the 6265i wasn't quite at the top of the heap. If you check my review of the 3205, you'll see that I found that phone to be slightly less capable than the old Ericsson T206 or the Kyocera Blade. However, very few phones have managed to match the RF sensitivity of those two phones.

Over-the-road Performance: I was a little surprised here, as just about all of the recent Nokia CDMA phones have been phenomenal at this. The 6265i is still very good at it, so donít get me wrong, but the phone seems to behave more like it has a Qualcomm chipset in it than a Nokia chipset. The phone manages to tame the ever-present audio disruptions as well as just about any other phone Iíve tested, but the previous Nokia models (including the Nokia 3205) seemed to make many of those disruptions magically disappear.

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

Audio Performance

Tonal Balance: This is a hard one to call. On one hand the phone actually has very pleasing tonal balance, with only a hint of harshness on some types of voices. On the other hand, the phone lacks the gorgeous and well-balance tonal quality of many of the previous Nokia CDMA phone Iíve tested. Iíd have to say that unless you were comparing two Nokia models side-by-side, you are generally going to like the overall tone of the 6265i.

It isnít too tinny, it isnít too bassy, and it isnít too shrill. One might say thatís a perfect combination, but it could stand to provide a little more low-end to make voices sound richer. At the end of the day however, I have to give this phone pretty high marks for this aspect, because once Iíd placed quite a few calls to various sources I was left feeling quite impressed with the tonal quality.

Sound Reproduction: Hereís another aspect of the phone that was decidedly different from previous Nokia CDMA models, and more like recent Qualcomm-based models. Iíd never been very happy with the raspy quality of all the Nokia CDMA models Iíve tested in the last year or so, and thus I hadnít expected the 6265i to be any different. Much to my surprise however, the 6265i doesnít seem to process that raspy coarse quality at all. The phone sounds as good as the best Qualcomm-based models Iíve tested, and combined with the fairly good tonal balance, this is perhaps one of the nicest-sounding CDMA phones Iíve tested in a long time.

Outgoing sound quality wasnít quite as impressive, but in some ways the 6265i does better at it than the vast majority of CDMA models on the market. I tried outgoing tests under a variety of extreme conditions, including a noisy food court, in a Volkswagen Golf with all the windows at sunroof open at 120 km/h, and out on a noisy street. Unlike many CDMA phones, your voice remains easy to understand and it is unlikely that your callers will ever ask you to repeat yourself.

Unfortunately the phone just doesnít have the ability to prevent the background noise from causing damage to your voice and the 6265i doesnít come close the Samsung SPH-a920 that I tested last month. Put another way, I would characterize many CDMA phones used in noisy environments as devices of TORTURE to your callers. The 6265i on the hand merely ANNOYS them.

Earpiece Volume: The volume of the earpiece is a little low, but nothing too drastic. Fortunately the phone includes Nokiaís wonderful volume-boost feature that raises the output of the earpiece by approximate 3 to 4 dB in response to increasing background noise. So, when used in a very noisy environment the phone is actually louder (at all volume settings) than it is when the phone is used in a quiet environment. I would have preferred something akin to the auto-leveling feature thatís appeared on many Kyocera phones, but the Nokia volume-boost feature is the next best thing.

Speakerphone: I was a bit disappointed in the performance of the speakerphone feature, especially in light of how good it is on many other Nokia models. The company has already proven that it can install some really impressive mini-speakers that pump out good volume and astonishingly good audio quality. Sadly they chose not to use that speaker here, and so the volume and tonal quality of the phone is about average. Itís loud enough to carry on a speakerphone conversation in a very quiet room, but under even moderate background noise the speaker is barely audible.

On the other hand, the microphone sensitivity is boosted during speakerphone conversations and it does a wonderful job of picking up your voice, even from a meter or more away. It also does a better-than-expected job of masking loud background noises. The latter is especially ironic, since under those conditions you canít hear the thing anyway.

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

Support Features

Ringer Volume: The ringer seems to use the same sounder as the speakerphone, which makes the 6265i less than stellar when it comes to ringer volume. It doesnít do a bad job of rendering MP3 ringtones, but the overall volume isnít loud enough to hear in a noisy environment. Howard & I set up the phone to the loudest-sounding ringer we could find (that came with the phone) and we turned up the volume of the ringer to level 5. The phone was then put in my shorts pocket and I called the phone while we stood around near the food court at Square One. I had considerable trouble hearing the phone ring and I couldnít feel the vibrator on the side of my leg.

Keypad Design: There have been quite a few complaints about keypad failures on HowardForums, but the 6265i I tested suffered from no keypad problems. The numeric keys (which are exposed when the phone is slid open) are a flush design that is difficult to use without looking at it, but the keys press well and tactile feel is at least passable. The two soft keys, as well as the SEND and END buttons (which are always accessible) have a similar feel. The 4-way cursor key and selection button is a bit disappointing and I often ended up getting a cursor down when Iíd intended to press the selection button. Iíd have to give the keypad a grudging pass, but it could have been so much better.

Display: What can I say? The 320 x 240 color display is big and bright and one of the best Iíve seen on a device that isnít also classified as a PDA. Color rendition is excellent and the resolution is high enough that photographs displayed on the screen look detailed enough to really enjoy looking at. After all, thatís what you want a screen of this type on a phone for. Visibility in bright daylight and direct sun is excellent.

Camera: As Iíve often said, I donít generally say anything about the camera on a phone, as it doesnít really come under the heading of a core feature. However, when a camera is as good as the one on the 6265i, it simply canít go without mention. The 2-megapixel unit on the 6265i is perhaps one of the best Iíve encountered on a phone. The lens provides excellent focus and continuity and the quality of the pictures is good enough to print at 4 x 6. Those prints may well fool many people into thinking that you took those pictures with a real digital camera.

Donít get me wrong though, the cameras in phones (including this one) have a long way to go to match the sheer quality of even a bottom-end digital camera, but theyíve now reached a point where they arenít anything to be ashamed of. Iíve included a full-size (1600 x 1200) image at the end of this review to let you see for yourself what you can expect from this camera.


Despite some shortcomings, the 6265i is a really great CDMA phone. It provides pretty good tonal balance, very good sound preproduction, decent earpiece volume, excellent RF sensitivity, fairly good over-the-road performance, and your callers will only find it mildly annoying to listen to you.

As I said in the opening paragraph, itís a shame that Nokia has decided to bow out of CDMA phone development, because this model proved that they were well on the way to making some of the best-performing CDMA models out there.

The 6265i isnít even that expensive, at only $300 without a contract, and only $99 if you are willing to sign up for a 3-year commitment. I have no intention of abandoning my Mike phone, simply because I personally feel that Telusís iDEN network is a superior system for users who need primarily voice service, but if I were ever to consider a switch to CDMA, the 6265i would be high on my list of phones to buy.


The following photograph was taken using the 6265i at 1600 x 1200: