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Review of WCDMA/GSM-handset Nokia E60
Last year, on the 20th of October Nokia officially presented new device line-up named E-Series. In always-rainy London company gathered several dozens of journalists, presentation itself was business-style strict and short. There wasn’t any common luxury and huge scale which is typical for Nokia during such events. In case of N-series camera and multimedia features were products main selling point, meanwhile new E-series devices are targeted to corporate users. Extreme pomposity is untimely here.
Company went a long way in order to form single strategy on corporate market, even today it is still unfinished. Before Eseries announcement we had Nokia Business Center software introduced, and in beginning of 2005 company announced licensing of Microsoft’s Active Sync. After announcement of Eseries (February 2005) manufacturer decided to buy Intellisync company, this acquisition had powered company’s position in corporate software segment. Even a year ago it was clear that Nokia is targeting corporate market. Smartphone Nokia E60 which is today’s topic was ready long time before it had shipped the shelves. First samples were sent out by Nokia to its partners about a year ago. Company had delayed the release on purpose, as well as the announcement itself. First of all, company had to prepare several devices to be launched at once, three of them was a minimum (Nseries and Eseries were released in quantity of three models at once). Second, it was essential to form and tune up set of installed applications, without ones there would be no reason in getting an Eseries phone at all.
Competitors who had followed impetuous rise of Research in Motion company (Blackberry devices that allow getting corporate emails) on corporate solutions market, were able to prepare their vision of this issue only now (Nokia Eseries, Moto Q, Samsung i320). Within short period of time Blackberry communicators were able to actually become corporate standard. But only in few countries market is beginning to grow, and RIM title is known only due to magazine publications.
It seemed that email has been a standard feature for mobile devices for quite a while, so what’s the secret success formula? In push-mail technology, convenient keyboard input, ability to quickly reply to email message. Just as email gets on incoming mail server, it will be instantly delivered to your mobile device too, due to the fact that constant connection between client and terminal is present.
This means that there is no need in manual email checking or scheduled one. Relatively convenient QWERTy-style input (or its local editions). Simple and obvious at first sight solutions provided immediate ascension of Research in Motion, company is current leader in enterprise mobile e-mail sector, where Nokia has only “moderate” 25% (according to official statements made by companies representatives).
Initially Eseries consisted of three devices – Nokia E60, Nokia E61 and Nokia E70. Later on it was added by Nokia E50. Formally Nokia 9300i is a part of corporate solutions as well. All devices can be divided into two groups – with QWERTY keyboard and without one. User hs to choose between them depending on his needs – in case you are going only to view emails, then you should go in for second offer, but in case you are planning to support active mobile correspondence QWERTY-keyboard powered device is a must have. In order to make things more even, we’d like to point out possibility to connect external QWERTY keyboard via Bluetooth, but you cannot consider this input type being convenient enough and big enough to become an alternative.
What other qualities should a device have in order to become a worthy enterprise solution? Here we should start with the fact that decisions on purchase of products is made not by end-user, this means that selection criteria is different (of course it is possible that a device will be purchased by an end-user for his own needs). First of all, phone’s device should be business-like and rather strict. In case a company has a dress-code settings for its employees (obligate presence of business suits, for example), then it is hard to imagine that management will approve purchase of pink glamorous phones. Second, built-in camera is treated as security breach for company’s data, its presence is undesirable. Third, presence of WiFi is preferred, so that users could use enterprise VoIP telephony. Fourth, access to corporate data would be good (email, corporate address book, access to ERP system). All above mentioned requirements can be found in Nokia E60, although it’s not that easy and you should not hurry too much by calling it an ideal enterprise phone. It has its own shortcomings. However Nokia E60 is still an interesting product not only for company’s management, that makes decisions, but also common users who will find themselves strict functionally rich smartphone without doubtable required features such as camera.
Design, control elements
Without any exaggeration we can state that Nokia E60’s design is the most strict and business-like among all S60 based devices. Totally dominance of straight lines, no aerial and round shapes, designer’s outrage or anything like it. Even metal insertion that is located on the right side and around display as well as keyboard is by no means a disturbance to external symmetry, it just gives this device a piece of individuality. In our case we don’t see characterlessness, smartphone is easily recognized and it’s hard to mix it up with some other device. However we should remind you that a beloved topic for discussion right after E60’s announcement was comparing Nokia E60 outlook to Sony Ericsson T630, Nokia E61 è BlackBerry-devices. And it is true that ideas that lay in basis of all these devices are common but there is no place for direct cloning of solutions. Nokia’s E60 design is comprehended rather individually. With help of design and proportions (height and width ratio) new Nokia’s product prepossess those users who were not accepting designer’s work in terms of outlook of Nokia 7610, Nokia 6630, Nokia 6680 and other models. Shortly formulating this thought: Nokia N60 is more similar to casual phone than other Nokia’s smartphones.
As for size – this is not smallest Nokia smartphone (for example Nokia E50 is noticeably smaller, not speaking about Nokia 5500), although it feels comfortably when placed into men’s hands, and even woman’s ones. As men arrange main auditory for this product, dimensions can be stated as being close to optimal (115x49x16.9 mm, weight – 117grams).
Model is presented only in one color solution – silver with black insertions on the sides. Plastic quality is rather nice, but when you touch it you will never get a feeling that it’s something different from plastic, it cannot be confused with metal surface by any means. Assemblage quality is causing dual impression. On one hand there is no backlash, even when you squeeze the phone very hard. On the other we have battery’s cover which is not fixed tightly to main case as you’d want it to. You will see different sized gaps on junctions of case’s details if you take a close look. We noted that in Nokia 6680 review already. In case you care much about assemblage quality we advice you to personally examine it before buying the phone, perhaps above mentioned drawbacks will seem minor to you.
The keypad offers no breakthrough – all functional keys are gathered right under the display. Bulky square numeric keys are quite handy; on top of that they have good click sensation and feedback. The illumination sensor automatically lights all keys, thus all engraved symbols are well-distinguishable, though the central framings seemingly have the main focus. Speaking about these two framings, we should note that they are here not for decorative purposes only, but also intended for preventing any accident presses of adjoining keys located in the horizontal sets. Summing everything up, we can rightfully give the keypad the highest possible mark; however the same cannot be said about the joystick, which simply doesn’t to live up to the numeric keys – even though it’s fairly comfortable, it is no match for those found on Nokia 6630/Nokia 6680.
The left side houses two volume keys, dedicated voice recorder button (although the duration of a single recording hasn’t stepped over 1 minute yet). Right here you will find IrDA port as well. Basically, it’s an unheard-of Nokia’s concern for business-users. For reference, let’s glance back and see that Nokia 6680 did carry neither volume keys nor a dedicated voice recorder key, IrDA (may sound strange, but it’s a fact – business-users are still in need of IrDA).
Both the power button and the holes for a carrying strap are mounted on the top rim. On the right you will find the loudspeaker, and a slot for DV RS-MMC cards (MMC Mobile), covered by a cap. As for the speaker, similarly to Nokia 3250, it’s exceedingly loud – be sure, you won’t miss a call even on the busiest street. Strange it may seem to see a smartphone incorporating a RS-MMC slot, especially in light of the majority of phones being armed with a microSD. But should you take account of the E60’s development time, the matter sorts itself out. In case you think you’re going to be in trouble with finding the right memory card type, you’re greatly mistaken, as these cards are widely available, and on top of that, there was a drop in prices recently – here is the latest price-list on MMC mobile for wholesalers (FOB, Taiwan, lot starts from 500 units):
Don’t get frustrated with the current prices for a MMC mobile memory card, though, which are twice as much (for example a 1 Gb capable card will cost you nearly $50), since they are going to fall down in accordance with the trends established on the wholesale market.
The charger socket as well as a standard Pop-port (for plugging in a cable or a headset) is located on the bottom end. Essential to note that the standard kit features only a mono-headset, thus if you want to listen to music, you will have to buy additional headset
Speaking about the display found on the E60, I could have cut the long story short and write here only one phrase – it retains the best screen among all smartphones both quality- and size-wise. The facts won’t let me tell a lie – the resolution of 352x416 pixels, excellent viewing angles – the colors don’t invert, the image remains well-shaped even at zero angles, however in that case several colors will get inverted. This display has also passed the sun test with the highest marks – although it does fade, information remains easily readable. Moreover there are 5 levels of backlighting embedded in the phone. Considerable mediocre diagonal measurements (34x41 mm, 2.1”) appear to be the only serious shortcoming of the screen – in fact smartphones, lacking a touch-screen usually carry a 2.2” display. In fact the E60’s screen is completely similar to that of Nokia N80. The only thing that differs these two on the paper is gamma – according to the spec list Nokia N80 features 262K colors, while the E60 shows off 16 millions. Nevertheless a naked eye doesn’t spot any crucial differences between these phones.
A short instant message: the smartphone lacks camera. Actually this is the company’s first smartphone (not counting the 9000 series) to feature no built-in camera. A certain part of users, who just can’t tolerate bundled cameras in mobile phones (for example owners of professional digital cameras) have taken the E60’s release with enthusiasm. Nevertheless it wasn’t the company’s main intention to play up to this small-numbered audience, when it was cutting off the camera module.
As a matter of fact, Nokia has finally come to understanding that a good business phone should at least have a variation without camera. With every passing day more companies world-wide forbid usage of any types of cameras within their buildings – why should they prohibit USB-storage devices and compact disks in order to keep the company’s internal ERP system safe, when any desired information may be snapped (statement, salaries of top managers, contractors list, turnover reports, payments and detailed reports on other transactions).
When at talks with direct competitors one might take a photo of a draft contact, which he accidentally saw, so later on he and his company will see if any profit can be extracted from it. Even stickers on a monitor can give someone crucial information on the company’s projects. As the quality of cameras found on mobile phones is constantly increasing, the companies will have move problems banning them and, consequentially, there will be an avalanche of various rules and restrictions. Thus it seems obvious that Nokia should better release two versions of a smartphone – with and without camera, similarly to a Taiwanese manufacturer HTC (a major company producing Windows Mobile-based devices). However Nokia E60 comes only without camera module.
A removable 970 mAh BL-5C battery has proven to be more capable than that of Nokia N80 (820 mAh), however it still lacks so vital minutes of life time. The manufacturer claims 12 days in standby mode and 6 hours of talktime within GSM networks and up to 2.7 hours in WCDMA in VoIP-mode via Wi-Fi, In practice though, in conditions of Moscow networks, while being my secondary phone (up to 10 minutes of talks, occasional mail checks, news reading, minimal level of backlighting), the E60 lasted for two days and even less, in case I intensified usage. When I switched the roles and made Nokia E60 my main phone (up to one hour of calls per day, heavy use of GPRS, the charge was used up in one day. Therefore an active user must keep in mind that the phone requires daily recharging. And so the first part of this review, which covered the outlook of the E60, is closing in to the end. The software section requires an in-depth article, that’s why we decided to divide the entire review into two parts.
Coming up: SIP or how to make and receive calls via Wi-Fi; working on synchronization – Nokia E60 and Microsoft Exchange; software jungles of Nokia E60; and what CPU does the E60 really make use of? All this and much more is to be released shortly.
Published 04 July 2006
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