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Late last year WOMWorld kindly provided me with the Nokia E72 for trial, which I have been using as my main device for around a month. The Nokia E72 is Nokia’s latest Eseries flagship device, that has all the business orientated features you need, packed nicely into a slim and compact design. The E72 is also the first in the Eseries range to sport a 5 megapixel camera, finally bringing Eseries up to par with the Nokia Nseries. The Nokia E72 does have a lot to live up to, bearing in mind the success of its predecessor the Nokia E71. The latter was by far the greatest Nokia handset of 2008, winning multiple awards in Best Smartphone and Phone of the Year categories. I personally still have the Nokia E71 as my companion, and so its time to see whether the E72 has what it takes to carry the torch forward.

Hardware

On first impressions I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Naturally I wanted the E72 to build on the E71, and be more or less the same but improve where the E71 failed. Looking head on at the device I feel as though it’s completely lost the sex appeal of the Nokia E71. For starters, the area around the screen is now black (depending on variant) instead of displaying a mirrored finish, the space below the keyboard is now half plastic instead of all metal, and the curves around the corners feel less comfortable in the hand.

Flipping the handset over you will again notice more matte plastic, which in my opinion degrades the quality and feel of the handset. The camera module looks as though its just been hammered into the device on a last ditch effort to boost up its specs, as it hasn’t been finished with the same care and detail taken to mould the unit like on the E71; as a result the bulge is a lot more noticeable. The pattern on the battery cover also looks better on the E71, which by the way, comes off really easily due to the mechanism used. Also relocated to the back of the handset is the speaker. This wasn’t a good idea at all because the volume is dreadfully low as it is, and having the speaker on the back further reduces the volume when left on a desk or sofa.

Okay, so first impressions aside the Nokia E72 does bring many welcomed improvements. The home area keys have seen a drastic makeover and are now similar to that of the E55 (see the E55 review here) with the addition of the optical track pad. This is a pretty cool feature as it gives this non-touch device the cheeky pleasure of swiping around the UI. However, there are many things not so cool too, like the fact that you cannot scroll fast easily and when pressing the track pad to select, the selection on the device can move to the next item before the press has been made. This actually happened to me when I was sending my fiancé a text message. Just before I pressed the track pad to send the message, the selection moved from mobile number to home number and I ended up waking her parents up at 12 am. Not classy at all, especially considering the content of the message.

The keyboard gets two huge thumbs up, I’d give it three if I had any more to give. The key press, physical travel and shape of each individual key can only be described as utter perfection, and I truly hope this is one aspect that is kept the same in every way, shape and form on future QWERTY-candybar handsets. The keys have also been re-mapped with careful consideration, and now with a smaller space bar, there is more room to implement custom characters and features, such as brackets, Bluetooth, Torch, etc. The ctrl key has also been re-mapped with accessibility in mind, making it the first function on the key, handy when using functions such as ‘ctrl + c’ to copy or ‘ctrl + a’ to select all.

Software

The Nokia E72 runs S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2, which is a very mature platform and has developed a lot over the years. When you initially start up the device you’ll notice the newer icon set (not the dull ones used on the Nokia E71). Transitions have also been implemented, and the 600 MHz processor allows the UI to remain responsive throughout. The E72 has 250MB of internal memory, almost double that of the E71, and you can expand the memory using a MicroSD card. The battery life should be a benchmark for every mobile phone, as it serves almost two full days of very heavy usage, and can last over a week when used for short calls and texts. It also features an accelerometer, which can be used to silence calls and snooze alarms. But personally I feel the best feature of the E72 is one that is not so apparent to start with. The Active Noise Cancellation is simply superb, and the difference is very noticable on the other end of the phone.

In terms of preloaded  applications, the Nokia E72 comes with a fully licensed Quickoffice suite, Adobe PDF reader, a dictionary, multiscanner and a zip file manager. The new additions include WiPresenter and Font Magnifier, the latter allowing you to change the size of the default font throughout the UI and WiPresenter allows you to manage a Power Point presentation from a distance via Bluetooth or Wifi. The Nokia E72 is also the first of its kind to come with a Home Media Server, generally familiar to Nokia Nseries handsets. The Home Media Server lets you share media via WiFi and display content from your device onto your TV or PC display. I am personally a big fan of this service and use my PlayStation 3 as my home media server, which works great with this device. On the other hand you can always use TV-Out to display your content, however although the 3.5 mm jack is now present, the TV-Out functionality is still not supported, a key feature that Nokia has overlooked.

As mentioned earlier the Nokia E72 sports a 5 megapixel camera with a single LED flash. The quality of the images are fantastic as I’m sure you’ve already seen on various other sites. The optical track pad comes in very handy here as it serves as a two step camera key, without the two presses. As you hover your thumb over the trackpad the autofocus instantly kicks in and then pressing the track pad will then capture the image. I did experience a few blurs to begin with, but the key here is to make sure you continue to hold the camera still until the captured image is displayed on the screen, not ideal but hey. The E72 also comes packed with a decent set of multimedia features, including a voice controlled Music Search functionality. This application lets you say either the song title or the name of the artist to find the track on your device. But to accommodate something new, something old must be removed, or so it seams, and the Nokia Internet Radio and Podcasting applications haven’t quite made the cut.

Over the Christmas holidays I was traveling quite a lot up and down the country and used Ovi Maps on the Nokia E72 as my main navigational aid. Previously I’ve avoided Ovi Maps like the plague, and installed other solutions on my E71 to do the task for me. On the E72 however, Ovi Maps works flawlessly, and the roads are constantly being calculated in order to make sure you get to your destination fast. If you miss a turning, Ovi Maps will now quickly redirect you without telling you to turn around over and over again like the previous version did. The bundled English Surfer Dude voice guidance was a great touch, and helped keep the instructions entertaining rather than using the same old boring prison officer voice. The instructions were clear and given at the correct times, to ensure I didn’t miss a turning. On the last day however, I did begin to experience a few issues. I’m not too sure how, or if I was accidentally pressing keys, but the maps application kept randomly closing during navigation. Restarting Ovi Maps and using the History feature allowed me to easily configure my destination and continue on my way, but it wasn’t ideal to say the least. It could have been because the device was automatically switching into power saver mode, I’m not too sure, but if you experienced anything like this let us know in the comments. Also note that Nokia recently announced that Nokia Maps for Mobile is now offering free voice guided navigation, which will definitely make it my primary navigational tool from now on.

Browsing the web on the Nokia E72 is a complicated area to discuss. Having used the Nokia N900 over the past few weeks, I find surfing the internet on S60 5th Edition devices daunting let alone any S60 3rd Edition handsets. But taking into consideration how the E71 managed to prowl around the net, the E72 does a pretty similar job. The annoying default bookmark folders have now been removed and a flurry of keypad shortcuts allow for ease of navigation. You can search for text on a page too, however there is still no copy and paste available on web pages, keeping the plagiarism police at bay.

Finally Nokia Messaging – the greatest emailing solution to date, comes preloaded on the Nokia E72. When you initially start up your device, the setup wizard will simply ask for your email and password and sort out the rest in no time. I was never a big fan of Nokia Messaging on the E71 and till today still do not have it installed on my device. But the E72 has changed my preconceptions of it and messaging as a whole is where this device just pushes the bar higher.

Bugs

I thought I’d finish by mentioning a few bugs I have experienced. First off the ctrl key shortcuts requires you to keep a hold of the ctrl key while pressing the corresponding action key. This can become pretty annoying during single-handed interaction, as it requires the use of both hands. Another bug I’ve been experiencing is that the spacebar randomly stops working at times, predominantly during messaging. A quick restart however seams to rectify the issue. Finally when using the E72 in offline mode, it is incredibly difficult not to get annoyed with it. Every few minutes a message pops up asking if you want to connect to a WLAN near by, even when ‘searching for WLAN’ is disabled in the settings. Funny thing is when you decided to connect just so it stops asking you, it asks if you are sure you want to create a connection in offline mode, as if it’s playing some sort of prank on you.

Final Thoughts

So is this a worthy successor I hear you ask. Well, the upgraded keypad, 3.5 mm headphone jack and 5 megapixel camera are all well and good, but my only worry is that the Nokia E72 reminds me very much of the Nokia N86 8MP. With the time that it has taken for Nokia to release this handset, I feel like I’m left wanting more to justify the price tag. The screen resolution is still the same old QVGA and browser experience is still very poor when compared to todays standard. The Nokia E72 is available for around £300-350, and you can find some great deals here.

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