Friday, July 31

Doing my eval on the Nokia E75

Nokia E75 Firmware UpdateImage by Urban Mixer via Flickr

Couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a social marketing team interested in my feedback on the new Nokia E75. Since I am working off a couple of different phones (and I happily own a Nokia 5310 and use it for my UK phone), I was willing to try a test run.

When the phone arrived, it was in typical Nokia fashion - with all of the components available. In playing with it for the last couple of weeks, I thought I might put some feedback on the various issues with the phone:

What did I like?

I got a kick out of the fact that the phone is supposed to be an equivalent to the Pre or iPhone in general features (e.g. music listening, web browsing, email and so on) and has some additional features like an FM radio (which did not work well at all) and supports SD cards on the phone. But overall - the Nokia is a foreign phone - using the Nokia OS (I believe it is Symbian) and the OS is just different.

Oh yes, I am used to it on my 5310, but other features like the email client, calendar, and web browsing - took a lot to get inspired.

What did I NOT like?

Sheesh - this is going to be kind of long - and I want to couch this the fact that I have been a Palm user for over five years, and a Nokia user for over ten years (yes - I still have the carcass of my Nokia 3310 in my tech drawer). So, when I am comparing features and functionality, it is with full understanding that this is a Nokia/Symbian phone - not a MacOS, Android or PalmOS.

Physical Shape

The phone itself is a slider phone (similar to the Pre) but has the difficulty of sliding left-to-right, rather than opening like a phone (making it longer). The keyboard is kind of awkward - especially since the keyboard is trying to emulate a standard keyboard (numbers seem to be above the first line of keys rather than in a phone configuration). It relies on the standard thought that the keyboard should be separate from the phone keypad (like the old O2 and HP phones). I personally have never been a fan of that.

Additionally, the phone is bulkier than both the 5310 or the Pre, and feels kind of "heavy". And the screen is definitely not as clear as the Pre. And sadly, the screen was very easy to smudge - I was not impressed - even with the funky storage sleeve that came with the phone.

I have a lot of friends comment on the smallness of the Pre's keyboard, but I must say, using the E75's keypad and keyboard is not so pleasant an experience either. Simply put - the number keypad is kind of "flimsy" - almost like the rows of the keypad have the keys connected, even when you are trying to hit just one number. (check out this review who gives it a slam on the flimsiness) Even the slideout keyboard has that "weak" feeling - not like the sturdiness of the Pre buttons or the hard glass of the iPhone.

Sorry - this phone just fails in this arena. Even my Palm treo 755p with VersaMail is a much better performer than the onboard email app the E75 comes with. The Symbian OS is okay-ish - and I think it is quite nice that they offer a "work" view and a "home" view (each view can have certain apps on the launcher), but it was not a very compelling addition for me.

The web browsing - sorry, I left the Opera experience when I started using the Pre. Using the center pad to mouse around a limited screen - or to use the zoom out feature to go to different regions of the screen - wow, I did not realize how spoiled I have gotten by a richer web experience on the Palm Pre.

Calendar is a joke - even if it syncs up with google Calendar (which I am not sure it does). And even the FM radio, which was nice getting the information from the Internet was fine - but the tuner had issues even connecting to local stations.

And, sadly, I was not impressed with the video - especially after having the Pre or seeing it on the iPhone. And, they downgraded the onboard camera to 3.2 mega-pixels (from a 5 mega-pixel camera on the N95), which was not as good resolution or performance to my buggy Palm Pre's camera.

Would I recommend it?

Funnily enough, I might. But it would have to be someone who had not used either the iPhone or the Pre and was very used to the Symbian OS interface and vagaries. Otherwise, I would wait for the series of phones Nokia to arrive with an improved OS, a better screen, better applications and simply - a better experience.

I left the small screens when I upgraded to the Palm treos. Please Nokia - learn from the experiences. RIM - I think you are safe.

P.S. Thanks WOMWorld for the loaner. Nice change of pace...

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