ESPOO, Finland – Lead Designer Tuomas Reivo was involved in designing the Nokia E6 from the initial product idea to the launch of the finished product. We asked Tuomas to tell us about the process and design goals for the Nokia E6. How exactly does a mobile device travel from an idea to a finished product?
What ideas were the design based on?
We wanted to combine a QWERTY keyboard with a touch screen. Considering the target group, of busy business folk, the key features also included a screen that could be operated with one hand. In addition, the Nokia E6 offers e-mail access from any application with just one push of a button. A really durable battery life was also absolutely key.
What user expectations were you aware of?
The QWERTY keyboard is a necessity because text input is important for business users: getting that right was a real priority, and it’s always difficult. Although the keyboards on mobile phones are always relatively small, we were able to make the keyboard on the Nokia E6 wider and easier to use than those in earlier models.
Which comes first in designing a new device: hardware or software?
On this project, we knew that a successor for the Nokia E71 and Nokia E72 was in the pipeline. When we have a rough idea of what type of product is needed, we can base the concept on this idea.
At this stage, we also consider the product family. All products in the Nokia Eseries, for example, are similar: they are based on the same concept and business perspective. With the target group in mind, we list the features that we want to include in the design. Then we need to consider the mechanics, fit all the pieces together and solve any problems that arise along the way. This will also affect the basic design of the device.
How did you choose the materials?
We used glass and steel in the Nokia E6. Compared with plastic, glass is more durable and scratch resistant. It also feels nicer to the touch. Steel feels sturdy and is more resistant to time and wear.
What was particularly challenging or interesting in the Nokia E6 design process?
It was challenging to give steel such a major role in the design. We succeeded in this: the steel supports the structure. I’m particularly happy with the front and the overall harmony of its design.
What do you think are the best qualities of the Nokia E6?
We succeeded in creating a strong and versatile device in which all elements support one another and nothing stands out above the rest. A harmonious whole is an essential part of the design story of the Nokia E6. The story begins, of course, with the business user. The Nokia E6 is not a flamboyant show-off. It is timeless, elegant and stylishly subdued.
We have had some questions about the screen. There seems to be extra space above the screen, so why did you not make the screen larger?
We wanted the Nokia E6 to have a very clean and simple front, so we were not able to incorporate a larger screen. There’s also the consideration of fitting in the various hardware parts. The earphone component and the front camera also take up space. Generally, components require a specific amount of space, which affects the size of mobile phones.
Do the different language versions affect the design?
We have 24 language versions, including Arabic, Thai, Russian, Chinese and many others. This is a very broad selection. The different language versions are made available through bilingual keyboards. In Russia, for example, the Cyrillic alphabet is the primary option, but the standard QWERTY keys are also visible. The keyboard on the Nokia E6 is a little wider than usual. This provides additional space, improving the usability of the language versions.