Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nokia E72 review

Nokia E72 review


Nokia E72 is one of those handsets everybody is talking about long before their release. There may be nothing much to talk about - after all everyone knows what to expect of the Eseries and they have never let us down. But still, savoring the next batch of Eseries steel is always a pleasure.

The Finns keep feeding business ammo to the market and there's nothing out of the usual at first sight. We already tasted the new Eseries generation and the E52 and E55 were the usual good healthy meals. The E72 though needs to be nothing short of delicious.

There's no need to tell you the Nokia E72 walks and talks business. The big one though has greater responsibility to carry. We guess the E72 will not fear being judged against the best messengers in its class. But it will certainly look back to a haunting shadow within its own family. The Nokia E72 can certainly go where the E71 would not venture. But it's not only the equipment (of which the E72 has aplenty) that makes a winner.

Key features:

Quad-band GSM support
3G with HSDPA 10.2Mbps and HSUPA 2Mbps
Landscape 2.36" 16M-color display of QVGA resolution
Comfortable full QWERTY keypad
Optical trackpad on the D-pad
Symbian 9.3 OS, S60 UI with FP2
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 turn-to-mute
250 MB of internal memory, microSD expansion, ships with a 4GB card
Standard 3.5mm audio jack
Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP support and microUSB v2.0
FM radio with RDS
Remote Wipe
Great battery life
Office document editor (including MS Office 2007)
User-friendly Mode Switch for swapping two homescreen setups
Smart dialing
Full Flash support
Great audio output quality
Lifetime Nokia Messaging subscription

Main disadvantages:

Optical trackpad is not as handy as we'd like
Limited camera features, no geotagging, video recording maxes out at VGA@15fps
No DivX or XviD support (can be enabled, possibly requiring a purchase)
No TV-out functionality
No dedicated camera key (trackpad compensates for that)
Poor loudspeaker performance

Eseries are always trying to get more skills on their resume. But the one that's supposed to be the next big thing in its class is really pushing it. Nokia didn't have to try and experiment with the E72. Build muscle on the E71 was their main objective. And by the looks of it they did more than well. The E72 promises richer experience and superior skill. But it will still be expected to deliver more than the sum of its parts if it wants to prove anything to the standard-setting E71.

Nokia E72 in our office

The Eseries spirit is all there - and we guess in-house competition is always in the picture. The E72 is bold and impressive, but manages to keep its cool too, as befits a conservative business handset. Armed and dangerous or polite and elaborate - the E72 will be whatever you want it to be. So, make up your mind, and take the jump. We're unboxing and feeling the cold Eseries steel in our hands.

A lot of goodies in the box

The retail package of Nokia E72 has all the essential luggage for a business tool. It's hardly a surprise though, as the E71 already had nearly the same ingredients. The E72 comes with a standard charger (not the smaller variety that we expected) and a really short data cable (microUSB). We didn't quite expect Nokia to cut corners with an expensive phone like E72 but they obviously did.

A 4GB microSD card is prebundled (E71 had 2-gigs of complimentary storage) and so is a standard Nokia headset. It is one piece, which means you cannot use the remote with another set of headphones.

The retail package brings a number of nice surprises

The extra content in the box includes a leather lanyard, a leather carrying case and a branded cleaning cloth. The rest is the usual paperwork and leaflets.

Nokia E72 is still among the slimmest QWERTY handsets on the market and comes in three colors: Zodium Black, Metal Grey and Topaz Brown.

Design and construction

The sweeping success of the E71 seems to open a wide latitude for the E72 to explore. But the upgrade will also have to live up to some seriously high expectations. The E72 is a high-end business tool and it looks it. It somehow fails though to repeat the strong impression the E71 produced. Fair enough, we're either spoiled by the Eseries or the E71 was just that rare stroke of genius to make a QWERTY messenger one of the sexiest handsets lately. And at the same time it does look super sharp and unforgiving. By the way, this may as well have been the desired effect. A more refined and polished E72 selling alongside a lean and mean E71.

The earpiece of Nokia E72 is placed dead center at the top of the front panel. A little to the right is the ambient light sensor and the video-call camera. The ambient light sensor does well to optimize screen brightness and the excellent backlighting of the QWERTY keypad.

Ambient light sensor and video-call camera right next to the earpiece

Below is the 2.36" QVGA display, followed by the main bank of control and navigation keys and the QWERTY keyboard. The screen, keyboard and controls will get their due coverage in a short while. At the left bottom corner is the mouthpiece.

There's three-button combo on the right hand side - the volume rocker with a dedicated voice command key between the up and down buttons. The layout works well - you're not likely to mispress the voice command key, which is sunk lower than the volume controls. The problem is the actual volume keys have a somewhat low stroke and poor feedback.

Volume rocker and voice command key on the right-hand side of the phone

On the left you'll find the standard microUSB port and the microSD card slot. Both apertures are sealed with plastic caps to hold off dust, and keep the contour of the handset intact.

The microUSB port and microSD slot

At the top are the power button and the 3.5 mm audio jack. There is no sign of the unsightly red power knob of Nokia E71 and this time the key is even a bit concave, so accidental presses are almost completely ruled out. The power button lets you quickly toggle ringing profiles, lock the keypad or safely remove the memory card. There is an extra option too to get in and out of power-saving mode.

The top of the phone hosts the 3.5mm audio jack and the power key

The bottom of Nokia's latest messenger features the charger plug and the lanyard eyelet, both squeezed in the left corner.

The charger plug at the bottom o a lanyard eyelet is also there

The back panel of Nokia E72 is made of finely-grooved stainless steel and doesn't seem to have the same finger-print issues as the E71. It will get smudges too but cleaning is easy and a cloth is provided in the retail box. The E71 rear was almost impossible to clean.

Rearside, the Nokia E72 features the 5 megapixel camera lens, with LED flash and a self-portrait mirror.

The camera lens sticks out a mile and there is no lens protection, except that it is a tiny bit recessed. If you carry your handset in the pocket, it would most definitely get scratched. Still the whole camera module looks quite stylish and fits the overall design.

The five megapixel camera comes with a LED flash and a self-portrait mirror

A nice little latch at the base of the battery cover allows you to release it quickly and easily. You slide it gently and the all-metal plate simply pops out.

Removing the battery cover is a piece of cake

What's under the cover will hardly come as a surprise: the 1500 mAh BP-4L Li-Ion battery is the same unit we saw - and appreciated - in the Nokia E71. For the E72 it is even quoted at 576 hours of stand-by time and 12 and a half hours of talk time to just outperform its predecessor.

The battery lifetime of Nokia E72 is really impressive

Considering the excellent battery life of the E71, we are more than sure the E72 won't let you down.

The Nokia E72 will definitely turn heads. We personally will miss some of that intimidating charisma that made the E71 so hard to resist. The E72 is no less of a power tool but it's somehow not letting its horsepower ooze from every pore. And that by the way it has in excess. The E72 handles nicely and ergonomics are top notch. It still has every box ticked on our checklist for design: practical, slim, smart, steel-clad, fingerprint resistive.

The Nokia E72 has commendable ergonomics

Small display fits the style

Nokia E72 features a 2.36" 16M-color QVGA display. It's the same size as the screens of E71 and E63. And size is hardly an issue here, even from an upgrader's point of view. The resolution though is a different matter. A slightly more pixel-dense screen would've certainly made as big a difference as any of the otherwise valuable additions (better CPU, optical trackpad, 3.5 mm jack just to name a few). We've seen Nokia do it for S40 (6260 slide) and it's high time perhaps they considered the competition of BlackBerry screens more seriously.

Nokia E72 review
Eseries are stuck at QVGA giving BlackBerries a bit of an edge

The screen performance is still great, with excellent contrast and vivid image. Sunlight legibility is not an issue for Nokia E72 display ranking it among the best of its class.

Keyboard is key

The Nokia E72 QWERTY keyboard is an almost complete replica of what we had with the E63, some changes notable compared to the E71. Despite the few minor tweaks, the overall usability is intact. The space bar on the E72 is smaller, leaving room for two extra keys. One of them is particularly useful: the Symbol button will toggle Bluetooth on and off upon a long press.

As before, pressing and holding the space bar in standby powers up the LED so you can use your handset a flashlight. That's a nice little perk and it even overrides the keyboard lock.

Maybe you shouldn't expect regular desktop typing speed and you'll certainly have to look at the keypad but you can achieve pretty decent results with the E72. If you are into typing lots of messages you are sure to get used to it quickly and start speeding your way through texts.

The keyboard is really nice

The controls above the keypad have the more recent Eseries styling along the lines of the E52 and E55. The logic is the same though - 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, never mind the icons on them might suggest otherwise. Furthermore, you can assign two applications per key, making use of the press and press-and-hold function on all of them.

This time instead of the solid one-touch keys on the E71 sunk amid slightly raised call buttons and soft keys, we have the opposite layout. The call/softkey deck is flat, using one shared plate, while the four program keys are raised and U-shaped, which makes them very thumb-friendly and minimizes wrong presses.

The keyboard backlighting is impressive to make the phone no problem to handle in the dark. You can set the LED around the D-pad to notify of missed events like incoming messages or missed calls. There is also a breathing light option - slow blinks in standby when the screen is off.

The controls above the keypad are a joy to use

The big news is the trackpad functionality of the D-pad. In pure directional pad terms, the E72 is doing well - the D-pad is small but very tactile and allows very comfortable vertical and horizontal scrolling and selection. The optical trackpad in the middle is a bit let down by the size of the button. It works just fine, but the raised directional ridge does limit the available space for thumb sweeps. This seems to affect horizontal scrolling worse than vertical navigation. It's easy to feel the difference on the BlackBerry Bold 9700 trackpad: it's virtually the same size but does much better in terms of speed and response.

The E72 trackpad, which Nokia call optical Navi key, has three sensitivity settings: low, medium and high. High is what nearly gave us the response we were looking for, though horizontal scrolling remained somewhat problematic. The lower sensitivity settings we found just about useless. The trackpad is haptic enabled too, gentle vibrations marking every thumb sweep.

The trackpad however is amazingly useful in camera mode. Mind you, we're talking a phone without an actual shutter key. Placing your finger on the trackpad activates the autofocus and locks it, and then a full press down captures the image.

It works like a charm, and gives the user a lot more control over the shot than say, virtual shutter keys on touch phones. And this is incomparably better than the ridiculous two-key focus/capture routine on the E71.

User interface: S60 3rd edition does not surprise

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

More importantly though, the Nokia E72 is powered by the same 600 MHz CPU as the E55. In Symbian terms, that's a lot, not even Nokia's current flagship - the N97 - can match it.

Nokia E72 runs on Symbian S60 3.2

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 for a pinch of 5th edition (touch) styling. However, with the E72 you cannot opt for having animated icons like on some other Nokia phones. This is probably just another way of reiterating the business focus of the phone. At least the font size is widely configurable depending on your preferences.
The optical trackpad is a nice addition and can make navigating the menus even smoother. Unfortunately, the imposing frame of the square D-pad doesn't favor thumb sweeping.

The main menu has two view modes

The active stand-by mode goes without saying on the Nokia E72. This is a convenient way to add shortcuts to all your favorite applications on the homescreen. You can even assign shortcuts to websites of your choice for quicker access.
In addition you can bring up to fourteen different kinds of notifications on the homescreen: email boxes and voice mail, through calendar and to-dos, to the currently running track in the Music player and FM radio. Choosing how many of those fourteen items to use is completely up to you.

Basic homescreen, active stand-by or talking theme

Each of the one-touch keys (messaging and calendar) below the display can be customized to access any feature (actually two per key) of choice. The two soft keys functions are user-configurable too.

Another handy feature of recent Eseries handsets allows you to toggle between two different phone setups - the so-called Mode Switcher. Each of them can be customized with its own theme and homescreen applications for maximum usability. This way you can have both a leisure and a business profile and switch between them with a single click.

The built-in memory is 250MB, which is a decent amount. The included 4GB microSD memory card comes in very handy for extending it, but higher capacity cards up to 16GB are supported as well.

As we managed to confirm, Nokia E72 has no problem handling a 16GB microSD card. Accessing applications or any other files on the memory card is quick and you probably won't notice any difference compared to accessing data in the phone memory.

As with any Symbian phone, there is a built-in voice recognition system. It is launched by the dedicated key on the right side of the E72 and does a good job.
It's fully speaker-independent and recognizes a very high percentage of the user commands.

And finally, there's a nice security feature known as Remote Lock. If your Nokia E72 gets stolen or lost, you simply send a coded SMS message to remotely lock the phone. After three unsuccessful attempts to unlock it, it wipes itself clean of all personal or sensitive info. You might not get your Nokia E72 back, but at least nobody will get your personal data either.

Great Symbian phonebook

The phonebook of the Nokia E72 does a tremendous job, offering storage space for a virtually unlimited number of contacts and fields with all the available memory potentially usable for that purpose. You are also treated to as many fields for each contact as you like and some other nice extras, so there's no reason to complain.

Welcome to the phonebook

Contacts can be freely ordered by first or last name, and can naturally be searched by gradual typing of any name. You can pick whether you want the SIM contacts, the service numbers or the phone memory contacts to be displayed or alternatively show them all at the same time.

Some of the available settings

Predictive search, contact list back-up, as well as grouping, are also available.
Editing a contact offers an enormous variety of preset fields and you can replicate each of them as many times as you like. You can also create new fields if you are able to think of any.

Personal ringtones and video can also be assigned. If you prefer, you may group your contacts and give each group a specific ringtone.

Good luck trying to find a field that Nokia missed • you can even rename labels

The Call log application can hold up to 20 call records in each of the tabs for outgoing, received and missed calls. These are all accessed by pressing the Call key in standby.

Detailed info of your past communications is to be found in the call log

If you access the Log application from the main menu, you'll see a detailed list of all your network communications for the past 30 days. These include messages, calls and data transfers. You can even filter the entries (by contact or by type), a useful feature if you're looking for a specific call.

Telephony: calls good, loudspeaker quiet

With Nokia E72 you are unlikely to experience any reception issues. Sound during calls is very clear and free of any interferences. It's not too loud at the loudest setting but it will do great unless you're in a very noise setting. Like quite a number of Nokia handsets, the E72 features advanced noise cancelling, which usually works quite nice to filter background noise.
Nokia E72 also has a Smart dialing feature, which helps you quickly find a contact straight on the standby screen.

Smart dial

Nokia E72 didn't come with the Advanced Communication Manager application out of the box and the free version available in the Ovi Store is just a trial worth 20 calls. Shame this top-of-the-line business model lacks such a helpful app for filtering calls based on black and whitelists.

The Nokia E72 also has support for VoIP calls - you just contact your VoIP service provider and get the internet call connection settings, then you are all set.
We conducted our traditional speakerphone test with Nokia E72 and it performed rather poorly, scoring Below Average. Here is how it compares to same of the other handsets we have tested. You can find information on the actual testing process, along with the full list of tested devices here.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Nokia E72 65.7 60.2 66.3 Below Average
Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO 66.6 64.7 72.2 Average
Nokia E71 68.0 66.5 76.2 Good
HTC Touch Pro2 74.6 70.0 78.1 Very Good
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 75.5 66.6 82.7 Very Good
HTC Touch HD 77.7 73.7 76.7 Excellent

The business of messaging

Eseries devices are mostly about messaging and connectivity and who would know that better than the supreme Nokia E72. The first time you start your phone you're prompted to set up your email account, leaving no doubt that the E72 is equal parts a phone and a messenger.

Text entry is a make-or-break feature of devices meant for heavy messaging. Besides the relatively comfy keyboard, you can also use prediction, auto-completion, set the level of spelling correction and a couple of more tweaks.

We suggest trying out the different settings - for example the High setting for spelling correction might be too intrusive and you can set how the suggested word is displayed, either in place or above the currently typed word. If you spend five minutes on this, you'll maximize your typing productivity, while minimizing the number of spelling errors.

Final words

There was a time when phones had cords and mail was delivered by hand. In comparison, the Nokia E72 seems like a space craft communicator. It handles just about every means of communication available today - from voice calls, through video calls, VoIP to texting, email and IM.

So do a lot of other phones but there's a key difference. Most phones can handle email, but it's not necessarily an enjoyable experience. For the E72 email is second nature, as easy to use as making calls. It's not just the software or just the hardware, it's how they work together that makes for the excellent experience.
Speaking of hardware, the "cheap plastic syndrome" is the curse of some of the most capable smartphones. Blazing fast wireless connectivity won't make up for the cheapish looking plastic. But the Nokia E72 has the cure - metal - and it looks as good as it performs.

So, the Nokia E72 is king of the Eseries but whether it's the best choice for you is another matter. The Nokia E71 is still something to be reckoned with, though E72 brings a few important improvements, the chief of which is the upgraded camera (and probably the 600MHz CPU).

The Nokia E55 offers just about the same software and the half-QWERTY doesn't lag too far behind the full keyboard of the E72 once you get used to it. But while the two phones are a match at build quality and centimeter-thin bodies, the E55 is compact and - more importantly - cheaper.

Those who don't like Symbian will perhaps want to check out the WinMo alternatives by Samsung B7320 OmniaPRO and B7330 OmniaPRO duo. The B7330 especially is trying to come across as a Nokia E72 equal, so it will probably boil down to whether your current phone is running Symbian or Windows Mobile.
We're talking QWERTY messengers and there's always a BlackBerry Bold to try and spoil the day for Nokia. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 is sure hoping to be the E72 nemesis, just like the Bold 9000 was dogging the E71. Despite their recent dabbling in the popular phone market, BlackBerry phones are still the epitome of a business phone. And that sets them on a collision course with the Eseries.

So, the Eseries have done it again. You can help yourself to another messenger of steel. The Nokia E72 won't be just the next in line though; it's keen to take the lead. It will be a while perhaps before Nokia decide to retire the E71, but they are making sure there won't be an empty space after it.

For the time being the E71 takes one step down the rank and continues to do its job. The E72 sees to it that the lineup is up to date. Nokia is betting on two horses in the QWERTY messenger race and everyone is happy. That includes us - users. Business as usual in the Eseries.

(from: GSMArena team)