Monday, January 11, 2010
At Long Last Nokia E72
Side-by-side with E71.
Released on October 22, 2009, E72 became a direct successor of E71 and an extremely solid addition to the E Series handsets. Boasting the same compact size (115 x 58 x 10 mm), layout, and plethora of features E72 remains the thinnest and the longest-lasting smartphone on the market. Unlike the recent additions to the family (E75, E52, E55), E72 sports the most optimal layout and hardware specs- 250MB internal memory, 5MP camera, full qwerty keyboard, 600mHz ARM 11 processor.
So why upgrade from E71? If you like to squeeze the most out of your phone, then you will love the faster processor, more on-board memory, better camera (better drivers besides the raw megapixel upgrade for much better day and night shots), 3.5mm headphone jack instead of the useless 2.5mm, and ability to charge through the USB port. The list of upgrades may appear rather minuscule, but it opens up major conveniences such as not having to carry a data cable AND a charger, using 2.5mm jack headphones or an adapter to use your own pair, and having an actually decent mobile camera whose shots aren't shameful to look at on your PC.
Onto the review then. Physical appearance and general feel: E72 sports matte black/silver/brown plastic that makes it very comfortable to hold unlike the glossy finish E71 had. The keypad is easier to work with thanks to the new plastic as well. The keyboard itself got 2 more keys on the bottom row at the expense of space bar width. New character layout is much more convenient with the addition of "(" ")" symbols as well as several shortcuts for phone's features like a quick bluetooth switch, quick silent mode, ability to use camera's LED as a flashlight. The soft keys under the screen have a better layout and a partial wooden-finish appearance. Lastly, the directional pad has the option of optical navigation. The external speaker has been moved to the left of the camera and seems to be more quiet than that of E71, but not enough to impair the overall performance.
The software side: we have the same old goodies like a solid GPS function through Nokia Maps or any other alternative program, microsoft office w/ full ability to edit documents, pdf reader, media player with a very wide support of formats (WMV/RV/MP4/3GP video, MP3/WMA/WAV/RA/AAC/M4A audio), now FM radio receiver is back, digital compass, and virtually anything else that the community has written programs for. I'll mention that business phones in fact make better entertainment phones since entertainment is a mere matter of software, and business phones pack productive hardware that's actually able to support your entertainment far better and longer than any entertainment-centered, "fun phones," on the market. Another dear piece of information is that E72 is already hackable and thus you get complete control of your phone plus additional software costs can be reduced to zero (better media players, IM clients, GPS software and maps, etc).
Lastly, the hardware side of E72: that I'll begin with the GPS receiver and its performance using the included (but myself-"upgraded" via full USA map) Nokia Maps. To provide an ultimate test, I did not use a-gps aka network assistance and made E72's chip work all by its lonesome in providing me with accurate step-by-step directions and distances. This experience was wonderful and receiver locked onto satellites quickly and worked accurately. Approximately 2 hours of GPS navigation did not deplete even 1/7 power bars which reassured the godlike life of the device just like E71. The radio receiver works like a charm, but requires headphones to act as an antenna. The camera is a real beauty considering it's one of the last areas of focus on a business device. Previous E Series models all suffered from poor camera drivers (namely poor control of the LED flash) that made 3 megapixel quality fairly useless regardless of lighting conditions and other factors. E72 and perhaps E75/52/55 finally cure poor drivers and images come out very well.
E71 via E72 camera in dark lighting, testing out the flash capability
The battery life and power saving management is still phenomenal and allows at least 2-3 days of moderate usage (texting, camera, music, GPS every few hours). Thanks to USB charge, you won't have to lug charger and USB cables with you to be able to connect E72 to a computer and charge it.
All in all, this is a solid all-around electronic device at a very affordable tag (roughly 380 USD right now) that can easily replace your standalone cellphone, GPS, media player, and perhaps a point-and-shoot digital camera. Why settle for less and buy ipods or garmins when you can have all of it in one slick candy bar?