If you're a fan of E71 and E72 smartphones, then you're gonna like the new Nokia E5, especially that its features are almost on par with the above mentioned devices.
After testing the C3 handset, that had the same factor as the most Eseries phones (including E71 and E72), we're now trying a new phone that strongly resembles the Eseries, Nokia E5.
We definitely loved Nokia C3 with its simple S40 user interface, so we were curious to check out the E5, which replaces the S40 UI with Symbian OS.
Announced in April 2010, Nokia E5 was launched on the market in August 2010 and can be bought for about $260 USD, depending on your location. There are five colors available for users to choose from: Carbon Black, Chalk White, Sky Blue, Copper Brown, and Silver Grey.
Nokia E5 strongly resembles an Eseries smartphone, as it has the same look and almost the same build. Naturally, there are some minor differences, but even hardcore fans of the Finnish giant manufacturer couldn't say that this isn't an Eseries phone. Nokia did a good job on the outside, as the phone features a stylish durable plastic, which, to my surprise, doesn't catch fingerprints. Also, the handset maker used stainless steel for the battery cover on the back. This has become a common fact for the latest Nokia handset, regardless if they're mid- or high-end budget phones.
The front part of the phone is split in two, the 2.36-inches display and the full QWERTY keyboard. Above the display, there's a small ambient light sensor and the built-in ear mic. In between the two parts there's a small metallic plate made from the same stainless steel alloy as the back cover. There's a set of six keys, as well as a big D-pad button, all grouped on this metallic plate. Besides the two contextual keys and Accept/Reject keys, there are also a Menu key to the left and a Messaging key to the right. The last two keys are very thin and are covered by a metal-like plastic or they're possibly made from stainless steel, just like the big D-pad in the middle.
The QWERTY keyboard is exactly the same that the Eseries smartphones feature with one minor exception, the Space key can also be used to trigger the camera's LED flash, thus making it usable as flashlight. To do that, simply press and hold the Space key until you start up the LED flash.
Overall, the keypad is excellent, very responsive and easy to type with. The right side of the handset is almost “clean” and only includes the volume key. As a side note, the key is a little bit hard to press. The left side of the phone doesn't have any external keys or ports, just like the bottom of the device. Instead we have three ports on top of the phone, from left to right: charging port, 3.5mm jack audio port, and microUSB port.
The 5.0-megapixel camera on the back is surrounded by a thin metallic stripe, which offers only a limited protection against scratches. To the left of the module camera, there's a big LED flash, which can also be used as a flashlight. To the right of the camera, there's a small loudspeaker. If you haven't noticed by now, the phone doesn't have a quick-to-access microSD card slot, instead you will find one under the battery. This means that you will have to remove the battery to access the non-hot-swappable memory card slot.
There's almost nothing bad to say about the Nokia E5 construction, except maybe the fact that the memory card is not hot-swappable and the lack of a dedicated camera button. Oh, and also the defective volume key, which is hard to press.
Display and Camera
Nokia E5 features a small 2.36-inch TFT display that supports 262K colors and 320x240-pixels resolution. While the size of the screen, may be the same as the Eseries' devices, the quality isn't on par. The colors and contrast of the images displayed are good in menus, but when you start using various applications (Internet browser) the colors seem a little bit washed up. Fortunately, the display kept the same perfect sunlight eligibility, so you will be able to use the phone outdoors without any hindrance.
The 5.0-megapixel camera embedded features LED flash and fixed focus, but lacks the autofocus capability. In terms of picture quality, the camera under-performs almost all other 5.0-megapixel cameras.
Still, it does decent pictures, especially if you're using the light conditions to your advantage. The handset also lacks a dedicated camera button, but the big D-pad on the keypad can be a very good shutter.
The camera interface is standard with the usual features: Effects, White balance, Landscape, Self-timer. The maximum resolution that can be used for pictures is of 2592 x 1944 pixels, while clips can be recorded with a maximum resolution of 320x240 pixels (QVGA@15fps) and can be saved in .MP4 format.
Overall, the performance of the camera is simply satisfactory, without any impressive features. Still, do not buy the phone for the camera, it's not worth it and there are better choices on the market, even from Nokia.
Menu and Software
Nokia E5 runs Symbian 9.3 operating system, with S60 3rd Edition and Feature Pack 2 interface. Besides the usual improvements added by FP1, you'll now be able to add your favorite contacts on the new Contacts bar that appears on top of the screen. Each contact is represented by a small avatar (thumbnail) chosen from the Gallery or by taking a picture with the camera. Clicking on any of the contacts added will bring up a list with various options that will enable you to edit the contact, send a message, call or add feed.
The latter means that you'll be able to add feeds instead of contacts, so you can quick access it from the Homescreen. The screen is also populated with a bar that usually shows your emails, as soon as you set up your mail account. The last row of shortcuts contains by default: Camera, Message, Maps, Chat and Ovi. These shortcuts are fully customizable, as more others can be added instead of the default ones. More themes options for the home screen have been added: Vertical icon bar, Talking theme, Horizontal icon bar, Basic, Active. Another new feature that has been introduced by FP2 is the availability of animation when browsing the menus.
Further, users will have quick access to the task manager, as the function appears now at the top of every pop-up menu. The phone also supports the latest version of Adobe's Flash Lite 3.0, the interoperable platform that enables the accelerated development and delivery of rich graphical mobile content, and includes audio file playback and streaming capabilities that provide audio and music enhancements to both mobile gaming and multimedia experience.
Nokia E5 also offers the social networking package, as it includes applications like, Facebook, Fiendster, YouTube client, HI5, MySpace, and Nokia Chat.
The handset also includes some useful applications, such as Search, Alarm clock, Calendar, To-do list, Notes, Calculator, Countdown timer, Vlingo Voice, World Clock, Stopwatch and QuickOffice applications. The menu is fully customizable and you can designate any MP3, MIDI or AAC file as ringtone. The phonebook can store an unlimited number of contacts, as long as you have enough storage memory left. The fonts can be customized, as there's a special app for that called Font Magnifier, which can be found in the Application area.
If you are looking for games, Nokia E5 has none, but don't be disappointed as the phone is compatible with Java MIDP 2.0 applications, but also with any Symbian S60 3rd Edition software, so you will be able to add as many games as you wish.
Three more apps have been added, that I haven't find in any other Nokia phone: AP Mobile (Associated Press Mobile) and Bloomberg, which seem to be two RSSs, as well as Psiloc Traveler, which is a flight assistant.
Nokia E5 is a quad-band GSM (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900) handset, HSDPA (10.2 Mbps), HSUPA (2Mbps) compatible, which features GPRS/EDGE 32 class. Tested on the EDGE and 3G networks, the handset performed a differently, as you can see in the screenshots. While the EDGE test results are lower than average, HSDPA tests reveal excellent results, as well as those received when using Wi-Fi.
E5 also features Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, UPnP & DLNA technology, which turn the phone into an all-rounder when it comes to communication.
When connecting the USB cable, you'll be able to choose among five modes: PC Suite, Mass storage, Media transfer, Image transfer and Connect PC to web. All five of them are intuitive and easy to use, so there's nothing more to add here. The process of synching is very fast, browsing and transfers are made very quickly between phone and PC.
Other connectivity tools include Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support, and microUSB 2.0 for PC synchronization. The built-in GPS receiver supports A-GPS function and works flawlessly together with the newly renamed Ovi Maps 3.0.
There's also new app that users can take advantage when trying to connect to the Internet, called Smart Connect. The Smart Connect client lets users simplify Internet access by using connection groups. A connection group is a prioritized list of connections that can be used by applications instead of a regular connection (or access point). Basically when an application is trying to connect to the Internet, the client will try to use the predefined group of connections in the list using the prioritized algorithm that the user put in.
In terms of messaging, the phone offers standard SMS and MMS messaging solutions, accepting all available message types. The device also includes an audio message editor and e-mail support. The message client works with POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols, and supports more than one e-mail account. Additionally, it can download headers and supports attachments.
The quadband (GSM 850 / 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) network-compatible bar handset has a very good GSM signal reception. The sound is also great at both ends and pretty loud. The vibration alert is more than decent, which means you won't miss too many phone calls if you keep it on the Silent profile.
Processor and Memory
The handset is powered by the usual ARM11 family processor running at speeds of up to 600 MHz. The device works pretty smooth, but I have noticed some lags when using other applications while the browser is open. Also, I noticed there's a flaw in the browser, as it freezes after a few minutes of use.
Perhaps it's only my unit, but I have experienced the same bug every time I used the integrated browser to navigate. You won't be able to exit the app using the Exit command, but you will be able to use the red Reject calls button to get rid of the freeze. Also check out the data connection, as the phone will remain connected in the background even if you minimized the browser.
The handset embeds 250 MB user-free internal memory, and 256MB of SDRAM memory. The storage space can be expanded up to another 32 GB through the microSD card slot, which was placed under the battery. The sales package also includes a 2GB microSD memory card to get you started.
Nokia E5 doesn't surprises through its multimedia features, instead it excels at music output. While you won't notice anything different regarding the included music player or graphics, Nokia E5 has one of the best music outputs from all the latest Nokia handsets.
The handset comes with a XpressMusic specific music player, which supports an impressive number of file types (including MP3, WMA and eAAC+). The sound quality when using headphones is more than decent, especially if you take advantage of the 3.5mm audio port and attach better headphones.
Add to that the high-battery autonomy (38 hours) and you got yourself an excellent music phone. The MP3 player also features an Equalizer that includes a Bass-booster setting, Stereo widening, Loudness and Balance.
The FM radio has a standard interface, and can automatically scan and save the available stations. It features RDS support and Internet radio. The Internet radio application can download all the local stations and save them to the handset with their names. Both functions, radio and music player, respectively, can be run in the background with no problems.
Nokia E5 also includes Real player for playing video clips, but also a dedicated YouTube client. The video player can be displayed in both normal and fullscreen modes. Unfortunately, the small-sized screen makes the whole experience rather frustrating.
The 1200 mAh Li-Ion (BL-4D) battery has an officially stated life expectancy of 635 hours in standby (670 hours for 3G) and of about 12 hours and ten minutes in talk time mode (5 hours and thirty minutes for 3G). Also, Nokia states a music autonomy of more than 1 day and a half (38 hours). The autonomy of the battery is pretty long, as I managed to get 6 days with the phone, and I used it for talking (1 hour and fifteen minutes) and web browsing (25 minutes). The phone includes an excellent battery, in the same quality range as the Eseries devices.
Nokia E5 is a decent phone with very good features, which targets corporate people that are also into the social networking services thingy. The handset is an all-rounder as it performs decent in all areas. Add the that its solid construction and you get a serious rival to the Eseries smartphones, which are slightly more expensive than the E5.
The main thing that might motivate a customer to buy this phone is the QWERTY keyboard, as well as the solid build. Once you get the phone in your hand and check its other features, you discover the 5.0-megapixel camera, multiple connectivity options (HSDPA, Bluetooth, microUSB, Wi-Fi), as well as the multitude of apps. Other strong points of the device include: 3.5mm audio jack, Office document editor, PDF viewer, Microsoft Office Messenger support, excellent battery, as well as very good audio quality.
The smartphone has a few downsides that could've been avoided: camera is lacking any advanced features or autofocus, the display under-performs, especially when using apps, the microSD card which is not ho-swappable, integrated web browser is bugged and freezes sometimes.
Nokia E5 handset
Nokia Battery BL-4D
Nokia Stereo Headset WH-102
Nokia Connectivity Cable CA-101D
Nokia Travel Charger AC-8
Nokia 2 GB microSD Card MU-37