Nokia E72 Review – The QWERTY Overlord

Abdullah Saad
Posted Dec 8, 2009
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It has been little over a year – since I reviewed Nokia E71, which actually turned out to be my most prized gadget of the year. To suggest that it served me well would be an understatement, its performance went well beyond my set expectations out of modern cell phones (usually glitterier, with little substance). Such incredible experience in turn, had set the expectations bar high for its successor; the Nokia E72.

So, like most of you, I had the same question in my mind; is E72 a worthy successor to the E71?

Well, let us find out.

[Features] [Unboxing] [Review] [E72 Camera Shots and Video Capability] [E72 vs E71] [Conclusion] [The Obituary]

Features

Hardware

  • Quad-band GSM support
  • 3G with HSDPA 10.2Mbps and HSUPA 2Mbps
  • Landscape 2.36″ 16M-color display of QVGA resolution
  • Full QWERTY keypad
  • Optical trackpad on the D-pad
  • 600 MHz ARM 11 CPU and 128 MB of SDRAM
  • 5 megapixel auto focus camera with LED flash
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, UPnP technology, DLNA support
  • Built-in GPS receiver, A-GPS support, digital compass
  • Accelerometer for silencing calls and snoozing alarms
  • 250 MB of internal memory, microSD expansion, comes with a 4GB card
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack – Wow!
  • Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP support and microUSB v2.0
  • FM radio with RDS

Software

  • Symbian 9.3 OS, S60 UI with FP2
  • Remote Wipe
  • Office document editor (including MS Office 2007)
  • Full Flash support
  • Lifetime Nokia Messaging subscription

Main Disadvantages

  • Optical trackpad – Couldn’t really find a use for it, save for when using the camera
  • Video recording at VGA quality i.e. 15fps
  • No dedicated camera key
  • Loudspeaker performance leaves a lot to be desired


Unboxing

 

Design

Well, as they say, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder – so in terms of looks, the design might click for some while others might find it a little typical (Blackberry-ish like, if you may). It follows the standard candy-bar design of Nokia E-series handsets. But where E71 dazzled you with its sharp sexy edges and the metallic outlook, E72 will grasp your attention with its more rounded edges and a conservative mature design. But, and this is a very important but, do not let the looks fool you; E72 has got a little rockstar hiding beneath its surface.

In terms of weight, while both E71 (at 127 g) and E72 (at 128 g) weigh about the same – Nokia E72 with less metallic parts in its body, actually feels less weighty when in pocket and/or in hand. As for ergonomics, it fits your hand like a glove and feels a little more comfortable as opposed to the E71, mostly due to the rounded off edges that I talked about earlier on.

The volume keys can be found on the right hand side of the phone, while the ‘Mute’ / ‘Voice Dial’ key is depressed and placed between the two volume keys.

On the left hand side of the phone, you can find the typical mini-USB port, and a MicroSD card slot. E72 ships with a 4GB microSD card.

At the top, there is a – why thank you, Nokia – standardized 3.5mm audio jack. This enables users to use their favorite headphones / earphones with the device. The power button is right smack in the middle – and this time it has been ruggedized (and built in a matching color 🙂 ) –so the chances of accidently pressing it are minimal.

At the bottom, in the left corner, there is the power inlet and the lanyard eyelet.

On the back of the device, you can find a 5 megapixel camera lens, with LED flash and a self-portrait mirror. There is no protection for the camera lens, except that it’s a tiny bit recessed. It’s quite prone to getting scratched over time.

E72’s back panel is made of grooved stain-less steel which doesn’t get smudged as easily as the one on E71.

Nokia, it seems, has really heard the voices of E71’s users, since their recommendations and input is visible in almost all design changes of this phone. Nokia has changed the locking mechanism of the rear-panel on E72, from two hard-press side latches to a single – nice little latch at the bottom of the device. Just gently press it, and the whole metal back-plate pops out.

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Keyboard

For any QWERTY device, the keyboard is essentially a make or break feature. If you get it wrong; make the keys hard to press, offer little tactical feedback, or place them too close to each other, you can’t really expect your offering to not to bomb at the market. Nokia, in this instance has learned from the feedback that it got from E71 users about their certain gripes with the keyboard, and has done an absolutely wonderful job with E72’s keyboard. They have made it ‘soft’ and ‘easy to type at’ – while offering excellent tactile feedback.

People with bigger digits, who took a while in getting used to typing at E71, will feel absolutely at home with E72 – since the keys are relatively further spaced apart. The reduced size of the ‘space-bar’ key doesn’t really take long in getting used to. This has, however allowed Nokia to place two extra keys on the keyboard – the more useful of which is the Symbol button which toggles Bluetooth on and off upon a long press.

The controls above the keypad have the more recent Eseries styling along the lines of the E52 and E55. This include two selection keys, Call and End buttons, the menu key and the three so-called one-touch keys. One-touch keys can be set as shortcuts to any application you like.

Furthermore, you can assign two applications per key, making use of the press and press-and-hold function on all of them.

The D-pad is small but very tactile and allows very comfortable vertical and horizontal scrolling and selection. The optical trackpad in the middle, on the other hand, doesn’t feel all that useful. While it works fine but the limited space to operate it in – renders it useless in nearly all horizontal and vertical scrolling scenarios.

However, in the camera mode, the trackpad proves extremely useful. If turned on, placing your finger on the trackpad activates the autofocus and locks it, and then a full press down captures the image. The whole thing works like a charm, and gives the user a lot more control over the shot. And this is many times better than the two-key focus/capture routine on the E71.

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User-Interface: Symbian S60 3rd edition FP2

 

Nokia E72 is running Symbian 9.3 OS with the Series60 3rd Edition user interface, with Feature Pack 2 like the E52, E55 and the E75 side-slider.

The operating speed of the phone, even with theme transitions on, is terrific. E72 owes this to its 600 MHz CPU.

The phone’s main menu has two view modes: a 4 x 3 grid of icons and a list. The E72 comes with the new S60 icons with a little bit of 5th edition (touch) styling. One excellent feature on this device is that all notifications (missed calls, WiFi, Bluetooth and others) are now shown in the bottom bar of the screen, visible in all modes and screens including the browser.

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Phonebook, Dialer and Call quality

E72 features similar looking dialer as the E71. There almost no difference between the ways two look and operate like. The smart dial feature from E71 continues in E72, which makes finding a particular contact very easy. Just start entering the name of the person you want to call, on the main active standby screen and the phone automatically finds the requisite person for you.

Here you can insert as much detail as you like, for example, photo of a contact, multiple numbers and email addresses etc.

As for call quality, we didn’t face any reception issues. And the call sound was free of any interference. Also, like most of Nokia’s newest handsets, E72 features noise cancelling, which does good work at cancelling a lot of background noise.

A rather excellent feature of the phone is the turn-control sensor, which when turned on allows you to silence your phone calls but simply turning your phone over.

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Messaging and Email

E72 being a classic business phone, is very well equipped to handle all of your email and messaging needs.

I’ve already extensively covered as to how good of a keyboard E72 has. So I’ll leave it at that.

As for email, E72 comes with Nokia Messaging software, which offers a very easy to use email set up, which works with almost a 1000 public email service providers and also supports VPN for connecting to secure corporate intranets.

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Browsing and Connectivity

Being an E-series phone, it’s a given that the phone will support extensive connectivity options. And E72 doesn’t disappoint in this regards. Whilst E72 has dropped Infra-red (present on the E71), it features every other modern means of connectivity that technology has on offer; including 3G (HSPA – 10.2Mpbs downlink / 2 Mbps uplink), WiFi, Bluetooth ver. 2.0 and USB 2.0.

Nokia browser on E72 is way better than the iteration on E71. It not only features complete support for ‘flash’, but also much improved page-rendering and page-loading speeds, making browsing a much faster experience.

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Organizer and Applications

Nokia E72 lives up to the charm of E-series handsets and comes with a variety of organizer options built in. These options will help you schedule meetings, appointments and set up various other tasks and reminders.

Nokia E72 comes with a fully enabled (supporting reading and writing Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, up to Office 2007 standard) version of Quick Office – unlike the E71, which featured a ‘Reader’ only version of Quick Office (which could be upgraded by the end-user but for a fee).

The application suite includes a Zip manager, a PDF file reader, a unit convertor, calculator, voice recorder and an app to write notes in.

And that’s not it; E72 also features native support (in form of applications and not just widgets) for the top social media websites such as Facebook and My Space.

In addition to the above, the phone also features the OVI store browser – which is Nokia’s version of App store (iPhone / Apple).

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GPS and OVI Maps

Nokia E72 comes equipped with a GPS receiver, A-GPS and Ovi Maps 3.0. Whilst basic navigation is free of cost, voice guided navigation comes with a fee. The handset also features a digital compass, which is turned on by default, but doesn’t work in turn-by-turn naviation mode. It however automatically gets engaged, when you are making your way around on foot, as it rotates the map to match even your slightest change of direction.


Camera, Images and Video

 

Nokia E-series isn’t exactly known for having cameras that are capable of snapping good pictures. But then that is a general trade-off on all business devices. Now, I don’t really know as to what was Nokia thinking before making E72, but boy they’ve built a wonder into the E72 in form of a 5MP camera.

I’ve yet to use a camera phone which offers better picture quality than Nokia E72 – there, I said it. For those of you who lamented about E71’s lack of ‘imaging skills’ – rejoice, for your prayers have been answered. I can now only hope that Nokia doesn’t temper with the current settings of the camera in up-coming firmware revisions for E72. Nokia – please, this thing works like a charm, don’t break it. =P

Snapshots

Whilst E72 offers excellent picture quality, it does lack in the video capturing department, with video recording maxing out at 15 fps. This in turn makes for not too impressive of a video. Here is an example.

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Battery

Like the E71, Nokia has packed its 1500mAH (BP-4L) battery with the handset. Whilst the battery capacity is the same on both devices, Nokia has tweaked E72’s OS for optimum battery performance. That is why, even with double the speed of the processor (300 vs 600 Mhz) BP-4L powers the E72 for two straight days, even with heavy usage (including GPS, EDGE/3G and WiFi).

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E72 vs E71

 

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Conclusion

 

Nokia E72 handles all sorts of communication technologies, with an ease of use and synergy between its hardware and software – which is hard, if not entirely impossible to beat. Add an excellent camera to the list, and you have a handset which will in all probability sell well with folks who might not even be interested in its business capabilities. All in all, Nokia has managed to come up with an excellent all-round device in form of E72, and it comes highly recommended.

Click here for a video overview of the handset.

But the question still remains, is Nokia E72 a worthy upgrade to the mighty E71? Well, that brings me to the final part of my review.

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The Obituary

 

I happen to harbor a great affinity for Nokia E71, which I consider an actual stroke of genius from Nokia. I remember saying in my review, almost a year ago, that it’s built like a tank. Guess what? It really is.

I accidently dropped it down a concrete stair case – a few months ago, never sent it in for repair and have been using it ever since. Even with its body bent and its screen broken, it’s working like a charm with no functionality malfunction, except for a broken screen. Can I expect that from E72? Probably not.

But, with a very heavy heart, I still have to acknowledge that E72 in certain areas has actually trumped the E71 (chiefly the processor and the camera) and that in turn makes it a worthy successor to Nokia E71. So, in my point of view, it makes sense for you to upgrade.

Before I take leave.

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