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Review of GSM/UMTS-smartphone Nokia E65
Live photo of Nokia E65
Eseries-branded devices have always been dubbed as enterprise solutions aimed at least at the audience of business-users, which has allowed the company not to sweat over the design too much, or beat its head about positioning. At the beginning, Eseries was consistently and aggressively suggesting to us that a camera module embedded in a handset for this particular audience is “evil” and, among other things, in some places taking snaps is prohibited. The arguments, were, to say the least, pretty weak, but being spread by Nokia’s representatives they actually affected the market, thus in some areas where handsets got placed outside the law, however people were paying a little attention to those restrictions. I truly loved the story that happened a year ago in the head quarters of Lukoil – they placed special lockers for phones of the staff over there. The idea actually had seemed to have worked out, at least for the first few days, but by the end of the week the security, which had been supporting the whole thing, went crazy because of the ring tones coming from the lockers. Basically, that order was illogical in the first place and got cancelled shortly after, as leaking information with the help of other portable storage devices is much easier than snapping it with a handset’s camera.
Having infected consumers’ minds with the idea of “maleficence” of camera, over at Enterprise Solutions they had a clear understanding of the fact that doing so allows only postponing the moment when blurred positioning of many Eseries devices would have become evident to many. Undoubtedly, communicators and QWERTY-armed solutions will always walk a different path, however they occupy a tiny share in sales and can be seamlessly overlooked.
For conventional candy-bars in Eseries, the main highlight could be the software, specifically support for Microsoft Office documents editing via native suite of applications. And we were surprised to a great extent, when we found out that the software kit embedded in Eseries performs notably better than Microsoft’s very own apps for Windows Mobile. You can learn more about this and some more features of Eseries software in a dedicated article.
In current generation of Eseries they have forgone the native application in favor of the current default, as many see it, Quick Office (pre-installed application). The cutting- dge of VoIP has gone as well, since many new smartphones coming from Nseries and the S60 camp in general have acquired this feature. Initially claimed support for certain enterprise VoIP-applications in Eseries has died on the vine. For example, Cisco CallManager, which you can learn more about here, still doesn’t work properly. Over at Nokia they assure us that with some voodoo, precise setup of applications and loads of time, one could make this combination work (not for all firmware versions and “dated” devices). Since late October, 2006 such solution has been around, even though it leaves much to be desired, but this is something we’ve come to expect from all new technologies.
So what do we have left from the highlights of Eseries that could be heavily hyped and then grasped by consumers? Hmm… Maybe names, or, better to say, indexes of the devices? All in all, we can rightfully state that the positioning of Nokia-branded devices are suffering positioning catastrophe, and all this started at the moment when stand-alone divisions took this process in their own hands. The goal of a specific unit is not to make the entire company happy – on the contrary it sets out to succeed on its own front. Getting one and the same raw material (S60 platform) different divisions come up with own products, each with unique positioning. And every solution is ought to secure certain level of sales, otherwise it is rated as not-particularly-successfully and the work of a division will be valued accordingly.
Now let us portray a typical consumer who wants to buy a handset. It is a man who has got a basic need in making calls, enjoying good battery life, display, extended capabilities of the phonebook etc. The suite of secondary features, for example camera, music department, may vary. But the fundamentals are always constituted by those basic characteristics. So, it turns out that all three of Nokia’s divisions, in various ways, aim at the same audience and compete against each other for their attention. Rivalry in this very case gets to be not a very “healthy” effect. For example, over at Nokia Multimedia they are not really into Nokia Mobile Phones products, considering them as second to their own “multimedia computers”.
Incidentally, have you ever seen a man, that has nothing to do with this company that would use “multimedia computer”, referring to Nokia Nseries? Personally, having such a wide circle of relations, I couldn’t find any. Wait I moment, I actually lied. I had a chance to sit in a plane next to a good-looking middle-aged man, who, after spotting me staring at his Nseries and looking at my “ordinary phone” (and failing to figure out its brand), told me how great it was to own a “multimedia computer”, like his, surpassing all conventional phones. It might sound surprising, but I managed to impress my neighbor by telling him where he worked and what he was doing for that company. I guessed right in both cases. This story can make a good joke:
- How can you know that someone works for Nokia Multimedia Division?
Artificiality of division of products into various segments, dictation of own titles – all this leads to a mess in positioning. As the number of S60-powered products grows, the competition is getting tougher bother between each other and against the S40. A fine example of this trend is a smartphone going by the name of Nokia E65. The basic concept they initially armed it with was beautiful. It was essential to come up with a device for energetic people, who make loads of calls and communicate with great many of workmates. In course of the product development such positioning lost its ground – there were too many ordinary phones that acted as its counterparts to some extent, coming out in both Nseries range and line-up of ordinary phones. They only thing that were down to do was make an elegant move and change the positioning of the device. So, which segment will be most appropriate for a 400-Euro slider? Apparently, the niche of fashion phones.
This slider belongs to “slim-is-in” category, being one of the company’s smallest slider-styled offerings, measuring up at 105x49x15.5 mm. While Nokia’s range doesn’t feature any counterparts to this solution, Samsung is delivering such device in March - Samsung i520v (S60 3.1, 101.7x50.5x17.9 mm). Overall these devices share some commonality – to make sure of that you just need to put them side by side. The Nokia-branded solutions look much more flashy, thanks to the display edging and patterned surface, good combination of silver and grey colors (the other color scheme is a typical pick for women – red).
Have you ever tried to image a red-coated enterprise device? I find this pretty challenging, but the fact is – for the very first time Eseries sways towards the fashion segment. And these people had enough courage to say something about built-in camera? I don’t understand them at all.
Design-wise, the E65 is quite good – it positively differs from many sliders that Nokia released lately, just look at face-to-face pictures with Nokia N80, Nokia 6288 and Motorola Z6.
The handset weighs in at 115 grams and measures 137 mm long when zipped open, which makes for comfort. At the same time you can accept and make calls without sliding the E65 open.
The phone comes included with a velvety carrying pouch, which is astonishing.
But the trim is not the only thing highlighting unconventional style of the E65 – turning the handset around reveals leather-like surface of the battery cover. The plastic quality is good, in some places the finishing is something between soft touch and standard plastic coating. However the surface proves to be prone to mechanical effects, specifically the area next to the “pencil” key wore off due to the phone being put in one pocket with keys once. At the same time, while not in such extreme conditions, the E65 won’t expose these scratches. The chassis is painted into the same color.
All in all the build quality is not something we can complain about – the halves don’t feel spongy, the device slides open and closed with ease, thanks to the spring-loaded slide mechanism. However, in three days it lost the smoothness of sliding action, it got a tad slower, with the addition of a clang, but we managed to find the explanations outright – the keypad is framed by a metallic inset, whose surface is patterned as well, in order to emphasize the texture of the material used. And the halves will always stick to this surface, and it gets scratched in no time. Well-visible abrasions emerge in four days of usage. Though it is not an issue from the mechanical point of view – the slider will remain good at zipping open and closed for a long while – this doesn’t add points to the E65’s looks. On the other hand, though, scratches can be noted only with the phone open.
The handset utilizes QVGA display (240x320 pixels, 2.2 inches, 34x45 mm), capable of 16 mln. colors (TFT). Much like other Nokia’s offerings, theE65 comes installed with a mirror layer for the display, making its usage in the sun a bit more like a breeze, and keeping the picture perfectly legible, which is especially vital for navigation mode. Also the handset carries ambient light sensor, which adjusts backlighting level basing on current light conditions.
Aim at voice services has called to life 4 special keys around the navigation pad, using these while at the standby screen or calling, allows one-touch access to the phonebook, merging active calls into a conference and starting it. During a call you can disable the microphone with a flick of a dedicated button. The last button found on the casing is called My Own, which means you can assign it to any feature or application. On the right spine is a dedicated sound recorder button, volume rocker and Edit key. The power button is located on the top end of the E65, while its bottom houses standard Pop Port and a slim socket for charger, as well as Infrared window, whose presence indicates that the handset spent a lot of time in development department of the company.
Numeric keys are pretty soft to press and bulky, which makes handling them a breeze. All keys are evenly lit in white. The Backlighting is not particularly very bright but rather comfortable. The back cover exposes no gap, removing it you will find a hot-swappable microSD memory expansion slot on the right.
The handset carries 950 mAh battery (BL-5F) onboard. But at the company page the handset is said to come equipped with 1000 mAh BP-5F (Li-Pol). I suppose, that is a manufacture’s mistake this time, as to all countries the phone comes included with BL-5F. The same battery is used in Nokia 6290 and Nokia N93i.
The battery life is quoted at 3 hours talk time and 240 hours standby time. In conditions of Moscow networks the handset lasted about 2 days at 45 minutes of calls, 2 hours of music, 20 minutes of gaming and 20 minutes of web surfing. More intensive usage of the device decreases the battery life to 1 day or even less than that. Browsing Internet pages for 4 hours straight drained all power from the battery, while non-stop music playback leads to the same result within 7 hours, for video the battery life makes up 2 hours. That said, you should expect one-two days of operation, depending on your usage mode. It takes the battery 2 hours and 15 minutes to charge from empty to full.
Highlights of the model
The device is newsworthy for the platform it employs, being built on S60 3rd edition with no Feature Packs installed (and you can’t patch the system with them manually either). This lays some serious restrictions on the phone as well as on the initial concept of an enterprise solution. What do you think, for example, about 1 minute length of a sound clip? Or about settings scattered all over the menus? And so on. I’m not casting a shadow on this solution’s functionality, but already available updates look much more interesting and more functional. Even the OSS Browser is 1.0 (the second version has already been released as a part of Future Pack 1). To avoid repeating the words on the core functions, which are totally identical to those of standard smartphones running off the S60, I shall redirect you to our dedicated article. In this part of our review we are going to highlight specific features of the reviewed handset. The device carries 50 Mb of memory available to the user.
Team Suite. This is the main app which is unique for this model only, for the time being. In this application you will find a list of commands that is managed and complemented with contacts from the phonebook by you. For each command you are at liberty to create group messages as well as make conference-calls with a flick of button, and communicate with your colleagues via Push to Talk. As for additional capabilities, viewing of communication log and catalogue of new links for a specific command are available. This very application is an add-on over the standard functions, in other handsets such functionality is achieved by spending more time only. Here it is implemented in a more easy-to-use fashion, especially for those who are really in dire need of such functionality.
Nokia Search. An utility that started as an exclusive feature of Eseries, but now available for any Nokia-branded smartphone and allows searching for data in the phone’s memory, phonebook, messages, email boxes, calendar and stand-alone files – a truly handy app.
WiFi. Everything works just fine here – the wizard available at the standby screen will assist you in tracking and joining networks (WEP, WPA and WPA2 security protocols are supported).
Bluetooth. The smartphone carries EDR-less Bluetooth 1.2 onboard, as well as the following profiles:
Regrettably, there is no A2DP profile here, meaning that there is no way to transfer stereo-sound to a wireless headset. And we are truly eager to find out the origin of the gossips about the E65 supporting this profile. Genreally, Nokia Mobile Phones’s solutions powered by the S60 are getting this profile on the board later than Nseries-branded smartphones.
An average Bluetooth data connection makes it to the level of 100 Kb/s speed-wise
USB. The E65 houses the miniUSB-socket (no charging-over-the-cable is available, though), on C connection you are free to pick from USB Mass Storage, PC Suite, and Modem mode. With USB ver 2.0 in its pocket, the handset presents you with about 800 Kb/s in USB Mass Storage mode.
Camera. Just like many S60-powered devices, the E65 houses a 2 Mpix CMOS-camera manufactured by Toshiba. But unless you are in great lighting conditions, the shots will keep going out noisy and blurry
Using the settings you can pick one of the following image resolutions – 1600x1200, 1152x764, 640x480 and 320x240 pixels. The pictures quality varies from High to Basic, with Normal as a happy medium. Such shooting modes as single shot, multi-shot, self-timer (10, 20 or 30 seconds) are also available. You can also make use of the night mode, white balance settings (Sunny, Incandescent, Fluorescent). The Sepia, Black&White, Negative overlays help you to alter color settings. Digital Zoom can be activated by leaning the navigation key, but in the end you won’t be happy with it, as the bundled editor gives you an opportunity to zoom in the picture in the view mode with the better quality of image.
Video is recorded in quite mediocre quality. The 320x240, 176x144 and 128x96 pixels resolutions at 15 FPS are available, the E65 saves all clips in .3GP files, and some of them may have the sound turned off – it’s up to you to decide. As for the time limit, they are non-existent now, except the MMS-mode.
Pre-installed applications. The handset comes loaded with Quick Office, ZIP, Adobe PDF, HP Printer. You can also upload Golf Pro Tour game.
Performance. No changes in this department, compared to the previous S60-based moels.
The reception quality delivered by the handset brings about no problems – both ends of a call won’t have a hard time understanding each other. The volume of 64-chord polyphony ring tones is quite high, but if you go for mp3 tracks as alert tunes, quality of the embedded polyphony becomes of minor importance, really. The silent alert is average strength-wise, thus occasionally its efforts on getting you to know that someone is calling might end up in vain.
They usually try to face off the E65 against Nokia 6288, which displays indifference of consumers about what they buy – a smartphone or an ordinary handset. Many people are keen on the looks, the brand and the price. To me, if we are to compare these two offerings, Nokia E65 comes out on top – the offering has more of the visual appeal, is well-balanced, while its functionality is almost no different from the existing S60-based solutions and availability of WiFi wireless connectivity will be a plus for a very limited audience, since most consumers will simply pass this feature by. In fact the E65’s design is the thing that will sell the device, everywhere but in the enterprise market. There is much confusion in positioning of various Nokia-branded devices, even the company itself occasionally has a hard time explaining what the advantage of the product is, why it is dubbed as enterprise rather than a fashion phone. Nokia E65 will retail for 400 Euro or 450 Euro and more, which is unreasonably much. At that the hefty price tag is accompanied by a poor sales package – no memory card, mono headset, meaning that for music you’ll have to get a new pair of headphones, and Pop Port jack. On the other hand the market hasn’t seen any direct rivals to this model yet, even in terms of dimensions, similar solutions running on the S60 are arriving in the market a bit later. Overall, the E65 turns out to be a successful model; however it won’t be a best-seller. All this mess in positioning leads to dramatic reductions of the handsets’ life times, and this goes for the E65 as well, which means that the phone’s main audience, specifically those trendy persons, won’t be able to buy this handset with a year of usage in mind – this just won’t work out with Nokia E65.
So, at the end of the day, we have a well-packed device, sporting typical functionality for current S60 solutions, an add-on in the form of WiFi, a few extra keys and Team Suite that are of little use actually. The handset’s best looking departments are size and design, thus the E65 might be your choice if you are looking for these aspects.
Published 01 March 2007
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