Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Nokia E5 smartphone
Nokia E5 review: A QWERTY-equipped smartphone for business and leisure
- Oodles of inbuilt apps, good build quality, zippy interface, QWERTY keyboard works a treat
- Screen is a bit on the small side, fixed-focus camera is too basic
The Nokia E5 smartphone attempts to bridge the divide between the business and consumer markets. In this it is largely successful, although the 2.36in display may be an issue for some.
Price$ 329.00 (AUD)
The Nokia E5 is an HSDPA-capable smartphone designed for business and leisure in equal measure. [You're a poet and you didn't know it. -- Ed.] Equipped with a QWERTY keyboard, a 5-megapixel camera, an inbuilt GPS, a 3.5mm headphone jack, dual home screens, plus a host of preinstalled business and entertainment apps, the Nokia E5 strikes a good balance between work and play.
[Compare the Nokia E5 to other smartphone reviews on PC World.]
On the downside, its screen is a bit on the small side, which makes Internet browsing a chore. The inbuilt camera could also do with some improvements. Nonetheless, if you require a smartphone for both professional and personal use (and don't mind a small screen), the Nokia E5 is an enticing proposition.
Nokia E5: Design
Unlike most consumer-friendly smartphones, such as the HTC Desire HD, LG Optimus 7 and Motorola Milestone XT701, the Nokia E5 does not come with a touchscreen interface. Instead, it sticks to a QWERTY keyboard, which takes up around half of the E5's front.
The lack of a touchscreen may not be a problem for some, but the reduction in screen size certainly will be. Simply put, the 2.36in display is far too small for effective Web browsing and/or video playback. To be fair, this is a fault that many mobile phones suffer from, but it does makes the Nokia E5 feel a bit outdated when compared to its full-screen brethren. (If you don't like touchscreens but want the luxury of a larger display, try the Nokia E7 smartphone — it has a slide-out keyboard.)
With dimensions of 115x58.9x12.8mm, the Nokia E5 is pretty compact for a candy bar smartphone. The black-and-silver finish is quite swish looking, while still remaining suitable for professionals. (If you'd prefer something slightly splashier, white, brown, and sky blue variants are also available.) Despite its slim size, the Nokia E5 has a reassuringly solid feel. The metallic backplate is an attractive touch, while also providing protection from knocks and drops.
Curiously, the Nokia E5 has no side buttons, with the exception of a volume rocker and a release for the backplate. Instead, all controls are relegated to the keyboard, which requires you to learn a few key shortcuts.
Nokia E5: Handling
We were very impressed by the Nokia E5's QWERTY keyboard — throughout testing, the keys remained responsive and comfortable to use. That said, those with short fingernails or thick thumbs will need a little practice before they start typing like a pro.
As mentioned, the 2.36in display isn't ideal for video viewing, but it does get the job done. Images are reasonably sharp and viewing angles are quite good too. We found it difficult to see in direct sunlight, but the same thing could be said of most mobile phones. All in all, we think the display is acceptable for the asking price: we just wish it was a little bigger.
One thing that did impress us about the Nokia E5 was the lack of lag or slowdown. Even with several applications running at once, the Symbian operating system remained fast and responsive. If you're the type of phone user who frequently multitasks, this is a huge plus.
Speaker volume, meanwhile, is more than acceptable: we experienced no difficulties hearing phone calls in busy outdoor environments.
Nokia E5: Features and connectivity
The Nokia E5 smartphone comes equipped with a swathe of useful tools and applications, including Quickoffice Premium, Ovi Maps (which works in conjunction with the inbuilt GPS receiver), Vligo (which lets you to control your phone via vocal commands) and a voice recorder. In addition, dedicated apps for Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and Live Messenger are preinstalled on the device. Wi-Fi (802.11b and g), Bluetooth and HSDPA connectivity are also naturally included.
Like most E-series smartphones, the Nokia E5 comes with two switchable home screens, dubbed Business and Personal. You can edit a number of settings in each mode, including enabled applications, notifications and themes, and then toggle between the two. The familiar Symbian interface lacks the polish of many alternatives, but it's easy enough to use. The level of customisation on offer is really quite impressive: whether you prefer a traditional grid-style menu or a scrolling horseshoe arrangement, there'll be an option to suit your needs.
For e-mail, the Nokia E5 comes preloaded with Nokia Messaging. Setting up a personal e-mail account, such as Gmail, Yahoo! or Windows Live mail, is a simple matter of entering your username and password.
Like all good camera phones, the Nokia E5 comes equipped with an inbuilt flash which provides coverage of around one metre. Handily, it also doubles as a flashlight for when you drop your keys in the dark. Unfortunately, the camera itself is a little underwhelming, with no manual options to speak of. It also has a fixed-focused lens, which means it cannot adjust focus on the fly. As you can imagine, this results in some fuzzy photos; particularly when it comes to Macro shots or extreme close-ups.
For connectivity, the Nokia E5 comes with a mini-USB port, a 3.5mm microphone jack, a plug to charge the battery and a MicroSD card slot. The 3.5mm jack and MicroSD slot will be especially prized by music fans: it means you can load the device with up to 32GB of songs and not compromise on sound quality (provided you have a good pair of headphones). The inbuilt music player does a good job of handling your tunes and an FM radio is also included.
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