Is it worth it sometimes to take fashion over business or pleasure? Well, that’s exactly what you’ll be thinking once giving this device a test drive. We’ve had here for a while the Nokia E72 in our labs for a while now and we’ve been diving into it for about a month to finally give you this review. At first when you notice the E72, you automatically think it’s the younger sibling Nokia came out with last year, the E71. In fact, the phone looks pretty much identical to its younger brother/sister (however you want to call it) and to be honest I would take either if I was a business man. This device pretty much follows everything in its younger sibling’s footsteps, except for the minor changes under the hood. Slim, sleek and stylish was their aim once again and they hit this out of the park. Is it enough to get Nokia out of the dark, hit the jump for this review of the Nokia E72.
Let’s face it, this phone looks just like a BlackBerry Bold 9700 right? No? Oh, I knew that. As I mentioned before, this phone looks exactly like it’s younger sibling the E71 (which in my opinion is the sexiest device ever made in white, sorry iPhone) and continues its stride as one sexy handset. The form factor might have someone mistake this for a BlackBerry real quick, but the stainless steel battery cover would give it away in an instant. With smooth rounded edges, this device slides very easily into your pocket (skateboard skinny jeans too) and the leather case that is included is not necessary. Holding the phone to text and place calls feels very comfortable with little to no struggle to hold it since its very thin. This device is almost like a tool of art. You can really tell that Nokia wanted to separate themselves from the regular consumer devices they create, hi-end, mid-ranged and basic, to have their business portfolio looking extravagant. This phone was not meant to be purchased by a regular person, not even a gadget-freak, it was made for business and maybe even formal wear. If a BlackBerry ties hand in hand with a business suit, then the E72 might go with a tuxedo, it looks that good. When you want to talk about hi-end business, this is what you look at. Sorry RIM, your BOLD series isn’t cutting it when it is put next to one of these. The only setback I have for this design is the camera. It has a bit of a bump in the back for its placement. Hey Nokia, if RIM can make a device with a smooth backside, so can you.
When you’re looking at the phone, you notice the front is just flushed with the screen, d-pad with shortcut keys and a QWERTY keyboard. The keys under the screen have a nice brushed metal feel to them and it makes the menu, send, end and back keys on a BlackBerry look extremely outdated. The optical trackpad is a little awkward at first. It isn’t as smooth as the trackpad RIM implanted on their newer BlackBerry models, but it does its job. I’d prefer the D-Pad that is surrounding it for everyday use, much more acceptable. There are four shortcut keys placed there as well. You have home, calendar, contacts and the one touch mailbox key which makes getting to your messages even easier. On the left side of the phone you have the charging/usb port covered in a nice plastic material that camouflages nicely with the device, covering the port so dust wouldn’t get trapped. You also have the hot swappable microSD slot as well directly under the charging port covered with that plastic as well. On the right side you have the volume up and down buttons as well as a convenience key in the center of them both that is set to PTT as default. Unfortunately you cannot use the PTT the E72 offers because there isn’t another GSM company in the States that offers the one they use. AT&T uses PTT but on a different technology. Sorry NextelSprint turned GSM clients. The good thing is you can change the option to whatever your desire is for that key. I used it for locking the device when I was done with it for that moment. I’m very prone to making phone calls on mistake so I use that option a lot when given the option no matter what device. The back of the device houses the 5.0 MPX camera and that glossy, stainless steel finished door. If it wasn’t for the etch-a-sketch lines, you can use the backdoor as a mirror. Last but not least, the infamous 3.5 mm headset jack that people secretly want on every device.
After using this as my everyday phone for almost a month, I’m still not used to the new layout of this keyboard. The E71 was a little more easier to type on. The noticeable difference here is the reduced spacebar key. It’s almost half the size as my E71’s keyboard. Look below:
Now you could tell for yourself why I would have trouble typing on this. Nokia tried to cram too much into that little but already perfect space from its previous model. It’s not perfect like the BOLD 9000 or 9700 (whichever you prefer), but its one of the better keyboards out there compared to the other competition. Other than that, as usual it is usually up to the user on how they type and manage the keyboard. Myself for instance, I was banging out only 45 WPM on this device, that is a huge difference from the 75 I put up on my Tour 9630 when I decide to use it. But hey, we all have weaknesses right? Tactile feedback is there as well. The buttons are shaped very nicely and well rounded. The slight bump in the keys makes a big difference as well because it makes you get a feel for the keys a bit more. Bumps are always good right? Overall the keyboard is one of the best out there on the market right now so you shouldn’t have any issues typing on this.
There’s a 320×240 screen on the E72 and it looks very sharp. It’s not as bright as a BOLD 9700, but it’s very clear and easy on the eyes. Screen real estate isn’t a problem at all as we find it more pleasurable to use than the previous E71. Pictures and video look very detailed and clean. There’s a decent amount of contrast when looking at media, and you’ll especially appreciate the screen during some heavy web browsing. Viewing in the dark is also a pleasure and there is no need for squinting while viewing images or documents on the phone.
Oh Symbian, Symbian, Symbian, when will it ever change? With Symbian’s latest OS, Symbian 9.3 OS with the Series60 3rd Edition FP2 user interface, there’s little to no change at all. Here is a complete rundown of what Symbian 9.3 has to offer:
Symbian OS v9.3 includes:
Improved phone performance
• Shorter start-up times for phones and key applications
• Improved memory management resulting in more responsive applications and phone features ensuring smartphones work as quickly with better quality features as mid-range phones
Reduced development and ownership cost, and time to market
• New development tools
◦ Symbian OS awareness for the Eclipse/CDT IDE framework and Nokia’s Carbide.c++ Development Tools for Symbian OS v9.3 phones
◦ Configuration tools to easily create and customize Symbian OS variants
◦ The Symbian Verification Suite to support compatibility and phone integration for creating Symbian OS variants, reducing time taken to customize phones for operators targeting different market segments
◦ A fully searchable on-line edition of the Symbian OS Library including a significant amount of new content
• Backwards compatibility from v9.1, easy migration for phone vendors, technology and third party software providers
• Reference design for Symbian OS v9.3 with Freescale and Nokia S60
• Hindi and Vietnamese language support for improved market coverage
Support for new hardware
• Native support for WiFi
• USB 2.0 on-the-go, allowing faster device connectivity
Support for key operator services and requirements
• Firmware over the air (FOTA) provisioning, FOTA allows network operators to provide OTA software upgrades or fixes lowering cost of ownership
• HSDPA support
• Introduction of IPSec for UMA service (Voice over IP)
• Improved 3GPP R5 support
• Native support for Push To Talk
• Java JSR 248 support
To sum it all up, it features improved memory management, faster boot up time, native support for wifi, native support for USB on-the-go, a reference design for Freescale with S60, HSDPA support and a whole lot of other things. Navigating the OS is really not for the average consumer. It takes getting some used to. Now Nokia fanatics will actually be used to this because they’re already used to the Symbian platform, so they shouldn’t have any issues making the transition whether it’d be from S40 or prior S60 devices. There is no need to fear though, Nokia did the best they can to make the OS as simple as they could for someone who has never owned such a device, and by the looks of it, they pretty much hit it out of the ballpark. The menus are quite easy to navigate through and getting to applications is just two clicks away. You also have the option of setting shortcuts to the programs you use the most on your home-screen, which is six; and then you also have shortcuts to any text messages, voicemails, or e-mails as well to the bottom of the shortcuts. You can change the shortcuts as much as you want, Nokia didn’t want you to think that they were locked there forever (no pun intended iOS 1). Besides all the technical stuff posted above, the OS pretty sleek and quick. Symbian doesn’t require a lot of RAM to move through the menus, so 128MB of RAM is just enough to breeze through. Don’t get confused of the 256MB that’s in there as well, that is just the on board storage space. One great benefit to Symbian that has yet to be seen in other OSes besides Windows Mobile Phone, is the method of storing apps to the memory card (which has yet to be seen on an Android device but that should change with the release of Gingerbread 3.0 and of course the iPhone, well because, the lack of a slot in general) which is great because you don’t have to use up all of the tiny memory the phone already has. The phone ships with a 4GB microSD card but it is upgradable to 16GB, so choose which card you’d like in it. Overall, the OS is snappy in its own kind of way, but it isn’t as easy as using an iPhone or a BlackBerry, and that might drive consumers away other than the outdated look this has. Hmmmmm sounds familiar, right?
Nokia takes pride in it’s business devices, let alone their flagship line for them, the E-Series itself. Business is all about connectivity and how are you going to get something over to the next person. The E72 takes that into consideration and offers right off the back the pre-installed Nokia Messaging application. What this does is connect you to which ever e-mails you currently have such as Ovi Mail, IBM Lotus Notes Traveller, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Windows Live Hotmail etc. Nokia’s Mail for Exchange service is also included in the handset for those who are on an Enterprise server. Using the Nokia Messaging application is just a breeze. To use it, first you have to register a name with Nokia’s server to get the free service and from there you choose which service you want to setup. All it takes is plugging your user name and password and voila! You’re email is setup with no hassles. Now those of you using custom servers, IMAP, POP3 servers would have to plug in your settings manually via the instructions of your provider. Mail for Exchange is almost the same, but have your IT guy at the office set it up for you. Now for those of you using GMail’s exchange server like I am, it does not sync your emails to the device because it is currently not supported. You can sync your calenders and contacts though so that saves you some hassle. I’ll update this when a fix has come out for the email syncing on the device. e-Mail coming into the phone is ‘pushed’ to your device in real-time and notifications are given to you right on the homescreen. From there you can either view it that instant or choose to view later. It doesn’t get easier than that. e-Mail + E72 = Easy Life.
If it is one thing Nokia knows how to do, that is making great antennas. Phone calls on this device was more than crystal clear. Places where my DROID and 9630 didn’t receive service or had fringe bars, the E72 picked up signal like a champ. I didn’t have any “deathgrip” issues, I was able to hold my phone however I wanted in all types of places. Whatever Apple is doing, they’re doing it wrong and shouting out Nokia by probably using a defective N97 mini is completely uncalled for. Apple should try looking up to these guys for inventing the way a radio should be installed/made on a cell phone. Anyway, phone calls = crystal clear like the guys in red were behind me the whole time (Verizon).. Get it. Verizon. Haha. Forget it lol.
The Nokia E72 means business even when it comes to imaging. While 5 megapixels are no longer high-end, it’s more than enough for casual use, even for prints. The camera captures photos up to 2592 x 1944 pixels resolution and sports autofocus and an LED flash, which can be used as a video light too. The image quality of the Nokia E72 is among the best 5MP snappers on a business handset I’ve seen (I’ll have to wait for the Torch 9800 to see how that one shoots). Now this isn’t going to replace say a Nikon DSLR type camera or even a Sony Ericsson Cyber-Shot branded cell phone with xenon flash (C902), but it’ll get the job done for quick to shoot photos. The quality is well worth printing for those damn-I-wish-I-had-my-digital-camera-moments people beat themselves for. Look at the examples below.
If you thought the battery life on the E71 was outstanding, then you won’t be disappointed with the E72’s either. The E72 ships with a standard Li-Po 1500 mAh (BP-4L) battery, the same exact battery as the E71. Nokia managed to squeeze an extra 2 more hours of talk time on this device, making it from 10.5 hours of 2G talk time to 12.5. This is most likely due to the upgrade from v9.1 to v9.3, since v9.3 has the better memory management, it handles more usage time. Here’s the official comparison between the two siblings for battery life:
While testing the phone for actual calling, I managed to get 13.1 hours on 2G and 7 even on 3G, bypassing the official specs that Nokia has given us. Standby time is well, just amazing. I managed to get 22 days of battery life without using the phone for anything. No exchange. No personal Gmail. No data. NOTHING. This phone is just too good on battery, it’s way better than the BOLD 9700 when it comes to this. Battery life is just outstanding.
Now its time to decide which phone to get if you are a business user. If it was me, I’d put my money on the E72 hands down just because of the battery life and the extra multimedia functions it has. BlackBerry users have had to wait almost forever to get a 5 MPX camera on their handsets. More positives are the slim and sleek style factor as well as amazing quality build. Just the looks alone might make you want to think twice on a BlackBerry as no one in the industry right now is doing anything to match this powerhouse of a business phone. Great reception, amazing battery life, make-you-look-back-three-times-because-this-phone-is-sexy style, and did I mention it’s pocketable? Yeah, I think my decision is made. This is a sure winner and a great alternative to a BlackBerry. The only reason it isn’t my phone of choice is because the area where I was reviewing the unit from I moved and where I’m located at now there isn’t really good reception for both AT&T and T-Mobile. So how many of you are going to Amazon right now to purchase one unlocked? I would.