Nokia 6131 is a mid-level clamshell, which can be used both in Europe and the US thanks to its quad-band GSM support. It's relatively big-sized and comprises a QVGA display with up to 16 million colors, an additional color display, camera and music player, as well as slot for expanding the memory. The package includes the handset, a battery, manuals, CD and handsfree, which can be used both for making calls and listening to the FM Radio or music stored on the phone.
The device is relatively large, even when closed, although the antenna is internal. When opened, the phone is quite bulky and noticeable and when it's carried in the pocket you can easily feel it with its weight of 112 grams (4 oz). But these are the same reasons that make it feel comfortable in the hand and convenient to use. Opening the phone with one hand is easy thanks to the spring mechanism (via pressing a button on the right side), but we'd rather use both hands when we have to close it as there are no mechanics to help us do this.
The handset's construction is solid when it's closed but there is an annoying movement when you want to use the phone and put it next to your ear the flip slightly wobbles. The housing of the phone is made of matte plastic which is combined with a silver glossy strip just around the display and the keypad.
The relatively big size of the phone also allows for the use of such large displays. The external screen has 128x160 pixels resolution and 262k colors, while the internal one is quite big with its 2.2 inches, and QVGA resolution and 16 million colors. Despite the amazing parameters, the image quality does nothing to impress and we'd expect much better one for such specifications. The colors are not saturated enough, although they're 16 million, and the contrast is too low while we've seen displays with less impressive displays on paper (the SamsungX820 for example, with its 262k colors) which look much better. Fortunately, the screen is clearly seen and the text can be read even in bright light, although the display becomes quite pale which is normal.
The phone buttons are located on the lower shell. Despite the bumpy surface of the keypad, the buttons are hard to distinguish when touched. They are made of dark glossy plastic and feel hard when touched. This makes them inconvenient to use, especially with the navigation key, but the size of the buttons is large enough and mistakes are rarity. The white backlit is strong and evenly-spread to the whole keyboard. The side buttons are not lit at all.
The standard connector (Pop-up Port) for charging, headphones, wires, etc. is placed at the top of the phone and there is a stiff cover on it which completely fits the style of the phone. The location of the memory slot is quite weird it is placed on the left side of the phone, but under the battery cover. There are no service lights to indicate missed event/call, which is instead done by the external display as it blinks.Software:
The Home Screen is quite ugly as the fonts of the options are small. Most of the screen is empty and displays only the wallpaper. The main menu is visualized as 3x3 icons and the rest of the options are displayed after scrolling (they are ten in our case). The icons are animated but look plain and ugly, as if they're cut and added to the background. The look of the latter can be changed through various themes. We accidentally found out that they can also change the way the icons look, but of all the themes we tried, only the Soccer one actually replaced the animated icons with better ones the result may be even better with some other themes.
The Phonebook is displayed as a list and when adding a contact, you only have fields for two names and a number. If you want to add any other information to a contact (like picture for example), you first have to save the contact and then select Add detail. That's okay for the Average user but will make people, who like adding pictures/ringtones and more numbers, lose a lot of time and nerves. During an incoming call the picture ID is displayed in a very small size, which is pointless with such screen size (320x240 pixels) the image should be larger.
The Organizer is a standard one, but includes a lot of capabilities. Unfortunately, there's only one alarm and can be set to be activated on specific days. An appointment for a given day is easily added through the calendar. The calculator has s lot of capabilities, and it even features a scientific calculator we don't see the point of one included in such a phone, but it's still handy and it's nice to know it's there. When the countdown timer is started, the time remaining is visualized either on the external, or on the internal display.
The messaging menu is exactly what you can expect from Nokia T9 helps you enter text faster and there are a few templates by default in the phone. Additional features are Instant Messaging and Email Client.
For local wireless connectivity, the phone supports Bluetooth 2.0, but the A2DP profile for stereo music is not supported and you have to use wired headphones if you want to listen to the music. There is an IrDA port which is rarity with the latest phones, while you can also connect the phone to your PC with via USB cable.
The camera is a 1.3-megapixel one, which a bit outdated for a phone of this class. It is located on the front shell and has neither a flash, nor a mirror but you can use the external display when self-shooting. The maximum resolution is 1024x768 pixels for pictures and 176x144 for the video, and we'd rather have QVGA so that they can be viewed in fullscreen on the phone and to be of any use on the PC. Starting the camera takes less than two seconds and using the digital zoom is very quick, too bad it's useless. The only available options are the various color effects and the night mode.
Color reproduction of the taken pictures is incorrect as the purple is dominating and purple fringing was clearly seen in some of the photos, as it covered a large part of the image, or even all of it. Taking pictures in low lighting conditions (indoors for example) results in distorted images as digital noise is almost all over them. Decent photos can only be taken in very bright light (combination of natural and candescent lighting).
For the music fans, the 6131 comes equipped with very mediocre music player, supporting MP3 and AAC Formats. Its interface is pretty simple and the only feature worth mentioning is the few Equalizers.
The phone also features a FM Radio but in order to use it you first have to plug the headphones, included in the kit, into the phone as they act as an antenna. The interface is relatively simple and convenient to use, and you can save up to 20 stations, which you can assign names to so that you can easily find them.
The 6131 supports JAVA MIDP 2.0 and the phone comes with a few preloaded games; one of them is the third version of Snake. There are a few application too, including World Clock, which would better be in the Organizer menu.
The phone operates pretty fast and there's no notable lag even when you open large pictures, games or starting the camera. The ringtone volume is very high as ringing is clearly heard even when the device is placed in a pocket or a bag. The vibration alert is quite unnoticeable though, and we did not felt it at all when the phone was in the pocket. The sound volume during conversation is average and the voices sound relatively normal you can easily be heard at the other end, but not as clear as we would like, especially when compared to other phones.
The 6131 is a typical mid-level phone and the only thing that stands out in its specifications are the diplays' supported colors. Yet they do not look that good in reality. It's big-sized and relatively well built, and the opening mechanism is a big plus but closing the phone with only one hand is a problem as there are no mechanics to help you do this. The speaker made a nice impression as it's loud and clear, but the sound during a call is not that good, and the vibrating alert is too weak. We're glad that there is a music player but it lacks advanced functionality and is quite uncomfortable, unlike the Radio which has an easy to use interface.