Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Nokia E90 Communicator
- Abundance of features, superb internal display, great keyboard design and layout, great build quality
- Still too bulky for some, 2.5mm headphone jack, GPS performance is a little slow, no TV-out or fax features
For those who like the idea of practically carrying a mini-notebook in their pocket, the E90 Communicator is one of the most comprehensive available. It won't appeal to everyone but despite the lack of TV-out and fax features, it is the best of business phones.
Price$ 1,499.00 (AUD)
Nokia's signature smartphone-cum-portable computer series has been well renowned and much anticipated for quite some time. Although size and weight is again an issue, the E90 Communicator is an enticing handset.
The E90's design almost mirrors the previous range of Communicator units; it folds open at the right side to reveal a large display and full QWERTY keyboard. The hinge isn't spring operated, meaning the display can be adjusted to sit at various angles, or folded out flat like a book. The control and keyboard layout is superb and we found typing e-mails and messages a breeze. General operation of the unit is simple and easy and the row of buttons along the top of the keyboard is convenient for applications used on a regular basis. Both displays are crisp, clear and bright -- the internal display is perhaps the best we've ever seen on a mobile phone to date.
The E90 is packed with most of the latest technology, starting with 3.6Mbps HSDPA-capabilities. Voice quality is quite reasonable and volume levels are loud enough, even if you are in a noisy location. When closed, the E90 resembles a regular mobile phone -- albeit quite a large one.
Running the Symbian v9.2 operating system, we were impressed with the E90's menu speeds; general browsing feels zippy and load times are kept to a minimum. The handset comes with more than its fair share of both productivity and business applications, headed by push e-mail capabilities. It supports POP3, IMAP and SMTP protocols as well as a range of third-party e-mail clients. A SIP client handles VoIP calls through PBXs that have SIP servers, while QuickOffice allows access to Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents and a host of PIM features are included. The E90 also has Zip Manager and Adobe Reader installed and the Nokia Team Suite application -- an extension of the phone book allowing users to group a specific list of contacts -- is handy for group messages, conference calls and push-to-talk. The lack of a fax feature may annoy some business users though.
The E90 also has a built-in GPS receiver but it's not the popular SiRF Star III receiver found in most dedicated GPS models. A similar package to the N95 is included here; using the Nokia Maps application you can look at your current location and locate nearby points of interest, but turn-by-turn navigation and city guides cost extra. Users can choose 3 years ($134.92), 1 year ($118.05), 30-day ($14.00) or 7-day ($10.50) licenses for voice guided navigation, while the cost of city guides varies depending on location. The E90's GPS takes a while to acquire a GPS fix and the landscape screen layout isn't ideal for navigation.
Surprisingly, Nokia has included a 3.2-megapixel camera with autofocus, flash and video recording. Photos taken are decent, but far from outstanding and the problems synonymous with camera phones are an issue here -- namely excessive image noise and poor colour reproduction. Regardless, the camera quality is commendable considering this is a handset targeted at the corporate and business markets. There is also a music player and FM radio; however, the use of a 2.5mm headphone jack instead of the standard 3.5mm is an annoyance, plus it would have been nice to see a TV-out option.
Connectivity is well featured with native 802.11g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, infrared and USB 2.0 (via a standard mini-USB jack). GPRS, EDGE and WCDMA data protocols offer high-speed data transfer. The E90 has 128MB of internal memory, though a 512MB microSD card is included in the sales package.
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