Nokia E55 Review - Compact QWERTY Smartphone

  Nokia E55
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Nokia E55 is one of the last smartphones launched on the market before the Finnish giant renamed its four handset lines to Nokia Cseries, Xseries, Eseries and Nseries.

Even though the latter two have been around for a while, each new device within the series will carry a number from 1 to 9, each signifying the range of functionality on offer, as well as the price.

The E55 is the half-QWERTY clone of the popular Nokia E52 and targets the same business segment. Those who have previously owned the E52 and are thinking of upgrading to Nokia E55 should know thatit does not come up with anything new except the layout of the keypad.

Touted as the perfect business tool, Nokia E55 is one of the most attractive Eseries smartphones, especially since it comes with a free QuickOffice license that allows users to create and edit documents, and a relatively new Symbian OS for the time of launch.

Announced in February 2009, Nokia E55 was introduced on the market in August 2010, one month after the E52 hit the shelves. Even though two years have passed since its release, the E55's price tag remains almost at the same high level.

The handset is now available for purchase for about $330 USD, depending on the location. There are three colors available for users to choose from: Black Aluminium, White Aluminium and Red.



Design
 
"Compactness" is the word that perfectly describes the E55's look. The phone is extremely pocketable and feels great in the hand. Unlike its full-QWERTY cousins, E71 and E72, the E55 goes for minimum size without giving up functionality.

If you have any doubt that the phone can fit in just about any pocket, then you should know that the E55's thickness is under 10mm and it weighs under 100g. As a matter fact it has the same size and weight as its E52 predecessor, 116 x 49 x 9.9 mm and 98g (battery included).


The metallic case gives the phone a premium look and offers solid protection against accidental drops and scratches. The small, by today's standards, 2.4-inch display occupies 50% of the front side of the phone. Below the screen is the only thing that makes this phone distinguish itself, a half-QWERTY keyboard with 20 buttons.

Unlike the standard keypad of the E52, this one features two letters on each key and includes eight more keys. For regular users this will surely have a negative impact on the texting speed.

However, after one day of use, the half-QWERTY keyboard will prove to be more comfortable and more efficient than a usual 12-keys keypad.


The keys are made of a durable plastic that doesn't get worn off with time. The big navigational D-pad can also be used as Enter. Next to the right and left of the D-pad, there are two shortcut keys that enables users quick access to Menu, Calendar, Email and Delete.

The usual Accept and End calls, as well as the contextual keys are placed above and below the shortcut keys.

Above the display there's a secondary QVGA camera for video-calls and an ambient light sensor.

The right side of the phone features most of the external keys: two volume keys, a voice command key and a dedicated camera shutter. The microUSB port on the left side of the phone can also be used to charge the phone.

On top side of the phone there's a 3.5mm audio jack and the power on/off button.


The 3.2-megapixel camera on the back is landscape-oriented and features a LED flash.

The small loudspeaker placed next to the camera is split in two for aesthetical reasons.

The battery cover is made from a metallic alloy, probably steel and is immune to fingerprints. At the bottom there's a small latch that let's users pull out the cover to replace the microSD or SIM cards.

Overall, Nokia E55 is almost perfectly built, just like its E52 predecessor. Ergonomics, material and layout are definitely among the strong points of the handset.

Display and Camera

Nokia E55 features a small 2.4-inch TFT display that supports 16 million colors and 240 x 320 pixels resolution.

The colors and contrast of the images displayed are bright and crisp both in menus, as well as applications. Furthermore, it is perfectly visible in the strongest sunlight, so users won't have any problem reading what's on the screen when they're outdoors.

Surprisingly, the phone also features accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate.


The 3.2-megapixel camera features LED flash and enhanced fixed focus, but lacks the autofocus capability. By the look of it, this wasn't the main concern of the manufacturer, so don't expect great results.

Still, it does take decent pictures, especially if you're using the light conditions to your advantage. One minor issue is the fact that the dedicated camera button is placed in the middle of the right side of the phone, which makes it difficult to reach.


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 2048 x 1536 pixels, while clips can be recorded with a maximum resolution of 320 x 240 pixels (QVGA@15fps) and can be saved in .MP4 format.


Overall, the performance of the camera is simply satisfactory, without any impressive features. Check out the samples below for a more accurate opinion about the quality of the photo snapper.

Menu and Software

Nokia E55 runs on the Symbian 9.3 platform, with an S60 3rd Edition and Feature Pack 2 interface. Feature Pack 2 brings both visual and performance improvements, which otherwise wouldn't be available for devices that only run Feature Pack 1. Beside the Gallery with the geo-tagging feature, you'll get a new kind of Active standby layout.


The latter enables users to bring up on the Home screen a lot more shortcuts than usual, such as games, applications and link shortcuts.

The new Task manager is also a specific FP2 improvement, and gives quick access to any applications running in the background. The Task manager now appears on top of every menu option that the user opens.

Moreover, some cosmetic changes have been included, such as better menu transition effects and stylish icons.


The main menu can be accessed by pressing the left Symbian key. In addition to the usual options and applications that we find in almost all Symbian-powered handsets, Nokia E55 features Search and Maps utilities.

Under the Office category, we find QuickOffice applications used for reading and creating Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. There's also a PDF reader, a font magnifier, a notepad, a Zip archiver, and a currency converter.

You can now find the Calculator under the Office submenu, while the voice recorder has been moved to the Applications submenu. The phone features a wide range of games (trial versions) when the N-Gage menu is accessed.


The phone includes everything a user may need on the road or in the office, pre-installed on the handset: email, web, calendar, organizer, IM, office tools, messaging, applications manager, connectivity wizard, synchronization tools, GPS navigator, themes, profiles, and even more.

Communication

Nokia E55 is s quad band GSM (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900) handset, HSDPA (10.2 Mbps) compatible, which features GPRS class 32 (107 kbps), EDGE 32 class (296 kbps) and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g. Tested on the EDGE and 3G networks, the phone has performed pretty good, as you can see from the screenshots.


The WLAN wizard helps you search and define your WiFi network connection settings. Should you want to connect to the Internet, you must first define an Access point (EDGE, WLAN or 3G).

You can do that by going to the Main menu / Tools / Settings / Connection / Access points, and define which access point to be used whenever a network connection is required (Main menu / Home network / Settings). The integrated browser includes Flash Lite 3.0 and Java support, but it's nowhere near the Symbian^3 browser.


Other connectivity tools include Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support, and microUSB for PC synchronization and charge. The built-in GPS receiver works perfectly and features A-GPS support, as well as digital compass. The big news is that the E55 is delivered with Ovi Maps preinstalled with a trial turn-by-turn navigation license (3 months) and lifetime City Explorer access.


In terms of messaging, the phone accepts all available message types. It features no less than four message editors, one for each type: SMS, MMS, audio message and e-mail.

The message client works with POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 protocols, and supports more than one email account. Also, it can download headers and can handle attachments.

The bar phone has a very good GSM signal reception. The 3G signal reception is likewise excellent. The sound is outstanding at both ends, and loud enough.

Processor and Memory

Just like the E52, the handset is powered by a single 600 MHz ARM 11 processor, which makes it pretty snappy. Users might experience freezes from time to time, as it's all about luck when we're talking about Symbian devices.

The handset embeds a 60MB user-free internal memory, and 256MB NAND flash. The storage space can be expanded up to another 16GB through the hot-swappable microSD card slot. The sales package also includes a 2GB microSD memory card to get you started, unlike the E52 that comes with a 1GB memory card.

Multimedia

Even though the E55 wasn't tagged as a multimedia device, it still can make as a nice music phone thanks to its 3.5mm jack port, which enables users to attach any compatible headphones, thus improving their experience.

The 'old school' music player supports almost any type of music file you can think of: MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+, WMA, M4A, as well as playlists. Files are automatically sorted by artist, genre, and albums, or by using the PC Suite.


Given the lack of any external music controls, the music player can be controlled with the D-pad.

The included HS-48 Stereo earphones are not the best out there, but once you put in some professional headphones the E55 proves a real beast when it comes to sound quality. There's also the option to use the Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support, which will enable you to listen to music wirelessly.

The music player features all kinds of options and settings: Equalizer, Visualisation, Balance, Bass booster, Stereo Widening, or Shuffle. Some of these are also available for the included FM Radio, which can memorize up to 50 base stations and features RDS and Visual radio capabilities.


The reception is excellent, and the quality of the sound likewise. Nokia E55 is by far the best when it comes to music quality sound from the Eseries devices.

Furthermore, videos can be played with the help of the integrated Real Player application. The video player is fully compatible with both orientations, namely landscape and portrait, and can run movies in full screen, but does not support DivX or XviD.

Battery

The 1,500 mAh Li-Polymer (BP-4L) battery has an officially stated life expectancy of up to 672 hours of standby mode (432 hours for 3G) or up to 8 hours of talk time (6 hours for 3G). What we got was almost a week of use: approx. 1 hour of calls and 30MB of overall data transfer, as well as 3 hours of music play. Overall, the battery's autonomy is close to excellent.

Impressions

Nokia E55 may be one of the best Eseries smartphones without a full-QWERTY keyboard, but it belongs to an era long gone. Symbian^1 is an obsolete platform that cannot rival with the newest operating systems launched on the market. Also, its high price makes it even more 'undesirable' unless you are really a Nokia freak.

The Good

The E55 breathes style and is perfectly fit for the business market. Its compact and fully metallic case turns it in the perfect premium smartphone.

In addition, the phone embeds every possible feature that could fit in such a compact form: 600 MHz CPU, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, UPnP technology, DLNA support, built-in GPS receiver with Ovi Maps preinstalled and trial turn-by-turn navigation license (10 days) and lifetime City Explorer license, excellent battery life and audio output quality.

The Bad

If you're not bothered by the fact that this a Symbian phone and that it's overpriced, then the E55 has little drawbacks.

The rather low camera pictures, as well as the fact that it will take some time to get used with the half-QWERTY keyboard are the only minor downsides of the phone.

Sales Package

Nokia E55 handset
Nokia Charger AC-10
Nokia Battery BP-4L (1500mAh)
Nokia Stereo headset HS-48
Nokia Connectivity Cable (CA-101) supports charging
Nokia 2 GB microSD card (MU-37) inside device
User Guide
Nokia Eseries Experience Leaflet
Nokia Ovi Suite in microSD card
Services included in the box:
Ovi Maps and Nokia Messaging lifetime subscription

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