Nokia has been releasing BlackBerry-like Eseries devices for some time now, with relatively few changes each time around. Think back to the 1990s and this is how Nokia has always operated, giving a natural upgrade path to users with no major shocks and surprises.
What does tend to happen on the Eseries range is we get more buttons and shortcuts, or an improved camera.
Well, for Nokia, despite having released the N86 8MP last year, and some 8 or 12-megapixel endowed models due later this year, it seems that they’ve fixed themselves on 5-megapixels for the time being.
Nothing wrong with that, I say, given that when you go too high in pixels, you introduce a whole new range of problems. Few people ever need the high resolutions on offer either, especially given the more likely use of sharing with friends (and reducing the files down to a fraction of the size).
For business users, you might actually find yourself needing the camera for more serious purposes. Although there is no dedicated camera button, you do have a shortcut key on the home screen and a new means of taking a photo, thanks to the optical navigation key.
Oddly, the navigation button is surrounded by a traditional rocker switch that also allows you to scroll around, so you now have two ways to operate things. For the camera, a simple touch will set the autofocus to do its bit, with a full push down taking the picture.
The same navigation pad also comes into its own when using the web browser, or navigating through lists and menus. It’s a subtle new feature, but a worthy one. To the left and right are more shortcut buttons, which can perform two individual functions depending on whether they’re pressed quickly or pressed and held.
This is all standard stuff for Eseries phones, with the build quality as impressive as ever too.
The only issue for the Eseries, and Nokia’s Symbian operating system as a whole, is that it has never been particularly good at things like email.
Nokia was obviously aware of this problem, which has become more of a problem as people are now expected to read and respond to email on the move, as against it being something done out of mere convenience.
It has prompted Nokia to build a new email client, which can collect mail from pretty much every type of email service, but without the server-based format offered on a BlackBerry. As a result, you’ll need to download attachments in full to view them, meaning you’ll need a suitable data tariff if you’re working with large messages and attachments.
Despite the sleek design, behind the metal battery cover is, well, a battery. The battery is an impressive 1,500mAh number, ensuring you will not have to rush around looking for a supply of juice as you would with an iPhone.
Of course, like getting a BlackBerry, therein lies the rub. The E72 is a pure business device, but it lacks the ‘fun’ of the iPhone. There are very few apps to choose from on the Ovi Store and while the media player is sufficient, it’s hardly sexy. Nor is there the simplicity of something like iTunes to use for managing media.
Regular Eseries users have probably come to accept that. What they might tolerate less is the fact that the screen resolution hasn’t changed for years and Nokia is still using its QVGA (320×240 pixel) display. The screen might be large, but it is heavily pixelated and ruins the web browsing experience a great deal.
If a lack of apps and games aren’t of concern to you, what about the continued use of such boring themes? The E72 continues to offer the feature that can switch the phone between work and personal profiles, but both look just as dreary. I just can’t fathom why Nokia associates work with boring.
Maybe potential customers are a little dull and prefer to focus on business. If that’s the case, then who am I to moan? Let’s get back to the good things. There actually are plenty of them.
Firstly, there are the neat little touches. There’s the torch function, triggered by a long press of the space bar. Secondly, the camera sticks out so that you don’t cover the speaker when you put the phone down flat. In fact, it helps echo the sound and improve the speakerphone function. Neat.
There’s also voice control. Okay it’s not a new feature, but it definitely makes it easy to use with a handsfree kit when driving.
Suffice to say, this leads nicely on to the other feature: free navigation with Ovi Maps.
The phone also comes complete with software to manage ZIP files, PDFs and edit documents, and unlike most other handsets, they are full rather than trial versions.
There’s even an excellent tool that goes beyond scanning the content of a business card to add in to your phonebook. Multiscanner now lets you photograph newspaper articles or other printed text and convert it to text, which can then be emailed, added to a note or edited.
The operating system might be in need of a major facelift and Nokia should bump up the screen resolution as quickly as possible, yet nevertheless the E72 is still capable of doing everything expected of it. Another Eseries win!
The E72 is a significant advance on the original E61, although beyond the improved keyboard, a nicer look and feel, plus a great camera, there’s still the ageing Symbian operating system. Fortunately this isn’t the touchscreen version, making it easier to manage with a navigation pad that has been improved by adding an optical pad. Now you can easily scroll around web pages, as well as control the camera. Battery life is excellent too, and the new email client is a vast improvement on the standard one. There’s even free navigation with Ovi Maps too.