The Nokia E71 certainly hit the mark for its target business audience, so it’s little surprise that its E72 successor reprises much of what was good about that QWERTY keyboard-packing Symbian S60 smartphone, while updating it with extra power and performance.
The E72 features a sleek business-like design, sporting a BlackBerry-style full QWERTY keyboard across its wide body. Some eye-catching chrome trim complements the classically understated bodywork that’s aimed squarely at serious business users.
Smartphone technology may have moved on rapidly since the E71 first wowed us as a business tool, but it seems there’s still strong demand for devices like the E72.
This E-series model operates on the non-touchscreen Symbian S60 3rd Edition (v3.2.3) platform, so there’s no screen-tapping action here – its 2.36-inch QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) landscape-oriented TFT display is, in fact, similar to the E71′s.
However Nokia has upgraded the processor under the bonnet to a 600MHz ARM processor, making its work-rate that much quicker.
The E72 has also introduced an optical trackpad within the navigation D-pad, so light finger action can initiate movement on the screen.
The camera has been enhanced from the E71′s 3.2-megapixel shooter, with a 5-megapixel camera taking care of imaging.
HSDPA connectivity has been boosted to download speeds of up to 10.2Mbps (suitable network capability allowing) and HSUPA upload at up to 2Mbps. Wi-Fi is safely onboard, as is A-GPS satellite navigation which supports Nokia’s latest Ovi Maps free turn-by-turn sat-nav software upgrade.
Nokia has beefed up the messaging experience on the E72, providing support for Nokia Messaging, where up to 10 regular email accounts can be handled in a user-friendly desktop-style push email environment.
Nokia’s Chat software also provides instant messaging connectivity for multiple services simultaneously. Other software enhancements are dotted throughout, bringing the enterprise user experience up to date.
So does the Nokia E72 still have what it takes do the business?
The refined bodywork of the E72 feels solid and looks a treat. Its dimensions are similar to the Nokia E71 – at 114(h) x 58.3(w) x 10.1(d)mm it’s slimline despite its broad keypad-packing requirements. At 128g it’s no pocket-sagger either.
The 2.36-inch display isn’t particularly spacious by smartphone standards, though it’s adequately bright and clear. The landscape format is tuned to the needs of messaging and email displays well on screen (even if a little extra room wouldn’t have gone amiss).
The QWERTY keypad has been slightly reconfigured from the earlier E71. The keys still have a pleasingly tactile, rounded feel and are well defined for speedy, accurate typing.
There are a couple more keys available, however, as the space bar has been reduced from four- to two-key width, giving a 39-button keypad.
Above the keyboard, Nokia has consolidated the control panel into a sleek brushed metal-look panel. The keys – including a regular Call/End and softkey configuration – are again responsive and the design well judged for handling.
As has become standard practice on E-series models, the E72 also has four one-touch physical buttons set up for certain applications and tasks.
The icon-labelled keys can be user-defined if you prefer, but out of the box they’re set up for Home, Contacts, Calendar and Email.
A short press will take you to the assigned feature, although a longer press can activate additional common functions – a long press of the Home key, for example, displays open applications, while a press of the Contacts key creates a new contact.
Similarly, a long press of the Calendar button initiates a new calendar entry and the Email key fires up a new email.
What’s new on the panel is the optical pad that’s built into the navigation D-pad. You can use the D-pad in the normal way, but the navigation key is designed to make it quicker and easier to navigate web pages in the browser or scroll through lists.
It acts as a trackpad, small touches and the speed at which you move your finger are reflected in the speed of on-screen action.
In practice, the finger room isn’t ideal for subtle tracking, particularly if you have larger fingers. It takes a little getting used to if you want to maximise its potential.
It’s generally okay, but for small movements it’s often easier just to press the ridged D-pad surround, as we found that sometimes we could overshoot with the trackpad – something that can prove tiresome in some instances where you slip and select the wrong option.
Elsewhere around the bodywork, the E72 has a 3.5mm earphone socket on top that allows standard headphones to be plugged in – a boon if you want to get the best audio quality possible when listening to the music player.
A thin-pin Nokia charger is included in-box, although there’s a microUSB port that can also take care of powering up, if necessary.
Next to this is a hot-swappable MicroSD card slot; Nokia includes a 4GB MicroSD card in-box, with cards up to 32GB supported. This supplements its rather paltry 250MB of onboard storage.
Round the back the chrome battery cover is smart and shiny. The camera is perched above it, protruding slightly with an LED flash partnering the lens.
The Nokia S60 3rd Edition Service Pack 2 user interface is familiar stuff for Nokia smartphones, in this instance configured for the landscape format of the display.
The icon-based menu system is, of course, not as slick as the leading touchscreen user interfaces that have overtaken S60 but will be recognisable for most Nokia users.
It can be long-winded to locate and use some options, taking numerous clicks to find stuff like the navigation key or notification light options or certain settings.
However, it’s generally straightforward enough to manage in most places, and you can click from page to page rapidly.
The home screen setup follows the E-Series convention by offering two alternative home screen views you can switch easily between – one marked as ‘Business’, the other as ‘Personal’ (though these labels can be changed).
Effectively, this allows users to set up their phone to have either work or downtime home screen shortcuts, features and information displayed, depending on when the user is operating the device.
For example, in Business mode, you may want calendar, notes and work email shown, whereas in personal home mode you may prefer music or other media apps to be displayed.
Either home screen is customisable; six shortcut icons ranged towards the top of the display can be changed in the menus to pretty much any function or app the phone is capable of using, or set up to access any one of the browser’s bookmarks.
Additional status information and access panels down the screen – such as Wi-Fi, email, instant messaging, calendar and so on – can be customised too.
Transitions between menus are fairly prompt, and the E72 can support multiple open applications without appearing ponderous. It’s worth checking occasionally via the Home button though and closing down unused apps to optimise the performance.
Any business-orientated phone has got to get the basics of voice calling right, and the Nokia E72 achieves a first rate performance on this score.
We found it reassuringly reliable in our tests, with excellent call clarity and audio delivery. Volume in the earpiece was sufficiently loud too, as was the ringer.
Tapping in new numbers was quick and easy; the number buttons are highlighted on the central part of the keyboard, so are swift to locate, even in low-light situations.
In standby mode, pressing the keys automatically brings up a number rather than the letter, so there’s no fiddly button holding required if you’re entering a new phone number.
The phonebook offers a number of options to set up details for contacts stored on the phone. As well as the usual personal and professional details, you can assign a location for the contact using the Maps function.
VoIP is supported on the E72 too, with a Vyke Mobile download offered in the service menu set-up menu.
Another useful calling feature is the facility to mute incoming call alerts simply by turning over the phone, a feature also found on Samsung phones like the Genio Slide. This option also works for sending alarms to snooze.
Nokia E72: Messaging
With its QWERTY keyboard, messaging is naturally high on the E72′s priorities. As mentioned earlier, the QWERTY keypad is well crafted for fast messaging.
Email is well catered for, with an inclusive subscription to the Nokia Messaging service enabling users to manage up to 10 email accounts with an easy-to-operate and intuitive desktop-style email interface.
This provides familiar drop-down menu options for managing email in folders and searching for messages.
The set-up procedure is a breeze. The Nokia Messaging application has presets for several popular web-based email services, including Yahoo Mail, Google Mail, Hotmail, BT Internet and Nokia’s own Ovi Mail service.
Simply tapping in your account address and password is sufficient to set up the service for push email. And if you have other accounts with your internet service provider or other web-based mail service, the E72 can automatically set that up in a similarly easy way.
In addition, users can set up the phone to be used with corporate email, with Mail for Exchange and Lotus Notes Traveler support within the email configuration options.
The Nokia Messaging email set-up naturally handles attachments, with Quickoffice software onboard providing document viewing and editing.
The email look and feel is a cut above most non-touchscreen devices and delivers a decent user experience.
The E72 supports Nokia’s Chat instant messaging application enabling users to simultaneously run IM sessions across different services in one application.
The Chat app allows you to sign on to Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and Ovi, with updates on the home screen, tabs to switch between services within the Chat application, and detailed options to manage accounts.
All neatly done and very user-friendly to negotiate.
Regular text messaging works comfortably and conventionally for an S60 device. It’s a breeze to use, and adding extra files to convert texts to MMS messages is suitably hassle-free.
The keyboard is cleanly laid out, with the numeric keys arranged in the central part of the pad, and it doesn’t feel cluttered.
As well as the usual shift, symbol and control buttons, there are useful one-touch keys that, for example, switch Bluetooth on or off and which also engage the LED flash on the back panel as a flashlight.
It really is a pleasure to use, with a fast action on the rounded keys making for swift and true text inputting.
Wi-Fi and HSPA connectivity provide high-speed data connectivity options when browsing at the home, office or when you’re out and about.
The E72′s browser is a fairly standard issue Nokia S60 affair, so you get none of the whizzy user interface tricks enjoyed on touchscreen smartphones such as the iPhone.
Flash Lite is supported, and pages render relatively promptly in mobile coverage and impressively quickly when connected to Wi-Fi.
The phone can utilise some keyboard-activated shortcut options, so you can zoom, bookmark, reload and so on with quick key presses.
However, the S60 browser user interface, with press-to-browse lists of options and histories, feels dated compared to top touchscreen smartphones and even some touch-operated feature phone browsers.
The optical navigation trackpad works effectively enough on webpages, although again, sometimes it’s just as easy clicking the D-pad rim for precision aiming and firing at links.
Nokia has geared up the E72 for a spot of social networking too, with apps for Facebook, MySpace and YouTube pre-loaded which direct users to the respective online mobile sites.
With support too for Nokia’s Ovi Files online service, the E72 can be used to view, download and send files that are stored on your home computer.
The Nokia E72 has a more powerful camera setup than its Nokia E71 predecessor, with a 5MP shooter on the back, equipped with an LED flash. There’s no sliding cover gadgetry on this model, however – it rather juts out of the back.
A secondary video-calling camera sits inconspicuously on the front above the display, for anyone who wants a bit of face-to-face mobile chat.
Unusually for this grade of cameraphone there’s no dedicated camera button on the side. The landscape oriented-screen is a probable reason, as most people will want to shoot in the same orientation as they hold the phone.
The optical navigation key takes shots once the camera has been booted up. It takes around four seconds from a softkey press to be ready for snapping action, which is a touch leisurely for our liking, but no deal-breaker in itself.
The E72 uses a familiar interface to other recent non-touch S60 phones, with a column of scrollable settings icons on the right of the viewfinder screen, and large autofocus frame in the middle.
Getting the autofocus system to lock onto exactly what you want is tricky using the navigation key trackpad.
It requires much more subtle handling than regular two-step autofocus (frame then snap) button pressing cameras. We found it hit and miss sometimes, particularly with our less than sensitive fingertip prodding, and you can end up taking simple point and shoot shots rather than nicely framed images.
The results from the camera can be pleasing, though the trickiness in controlling the autofocus can be frustrating for those used to more dependable Nokia cameraphones.
Nevertheless, colour rendition is rich and vivid, and detail is quite well handled for this class of device. Auto exposure control is dealt with competently too.
However, the flash is very limited, and you need to be close to get illumination – it’s not particularly powerful and isn’t a patch on the better xenon flashes some high-end cameraphones pack.
Overall, the E72 is capable of producing decent results, though it has its foibles that don’t aid consistently satisfactory autofocus results.
A familiar set of camera settings options is available. These include a variety of scene modes for varying lighting and shooting conditions, with a close-up mode for macro shooting, plus landscape, portrait, night mode and suchlike.
White balance adjustments are available too, plus timer and multi-shot settings, and flash on/off/auto and red-eye reduction mode.
There’s a reasonable panorama setting too that uses a sensor to help you stitch shots together for one continuous image.
Post shooting, images can be uploaded to a selection of image sharing online services, including Ovi, Vox and Flickr, and there are some editing tools for tweaking shots before posting, with effects and text options too.
SUNLIGHT: The five-megapixel camera on the Nokia E72 is capable of producing rich, vibrantly coloured images with a decent amount of detail
MIXED OUTDOORS: The camera is able to produce a good balance in tones and handle variations in light in an image pretty well
DETAIL: The autofocus system enables users to pick out details in subjects for crisper shots. Colours here are well defined with a nice balance and good contrast
AUTOFOCUS: Although the camera is capable of capturing reasonably good images, its autofocus system suffers from the limited control of focusing offered by the Navi key
LIGHT AND DARK: The camera can handle exposure well for light and dark portions of an image, with no impact on colour fidelity
SHADOW: A shot taken in shadow retains decent amounts of detail in the foreground while the strongly lit background isn’t burnt
MOVING SUBJECT: The camera’s auto-metering system does a decent job at capturing moving subjects when lighting conditions are favourable, though in poorer light sports mode can help with exposure
LANDSCAPE: The E72 can take reasonable long-range landscape shots too
FOCUS: The autofocus system does enable you to take interesting images by adjusting the element in focus, though it can be fiddly to get it right first time
FLASH: The E72′s flash offers some illumination in dark conditions, but has limited effect and only at short range
Video capture performance is middle of the road on the E72; it can shoot at up to VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels) at 15 frames a second.
Although footage can look adequately bright and may be sufficient for casual online action, quality is limited and there is some slight hesitancy to playback.
Video playback is okay on the QVGA screen, and is smooth and bright, but the size and resolution of the screen limit the impact of video watching on this device.
As well as the media player, the E72 has the usual Nokia smartphone RealPlayer application onboard. Video file formats supported include MP4, AVC/H.264,WMV, RV, Flash Video and H.263/3GP.
Video clips can be shared online too, and the phone has Nokia’s Video Centre application onboard for streaming and downloading content from the Ovi Store (some free, others paid for).
Although the E72 is geared up for serious business users, it’s still capable of delivering a surprisingly powerful audio performance. The music player software is, again, standard issue S60 kit, so the user interface is functional rather than anything more elaborate.
Tracks are categorised in basic music player fashion, and playback is controlled in the usual way via the D-pad, with cover art presented on the screen if available. No surprises there, then.
As we mentioned, a 4GB MicroSD card is included in-box, providing a decent amount of storage to be getting on with.
Nokia supplies the E72 with a headset that present quite a lively soundscape with decent mid- and high-range presentation and solid bass. It’s loud too – the buds come with optional silica surrounds for a snug noise-diminishing fit.
Usefully, the E72 has a 3.5mm standard headphone jack on the top, so any decent set of headphones can be whacked in for a further uplift in sound quality.
The loudspeaker is reasonable too for playback. All in all, not bad tune-playing for a business phone.
Should you wish to buy tunes online over the air, the Nokia E72 supports Nokia’s Music Store service.
A separate Music Search function offers the option of hunting through music files using voice recognition to find a track, artist, album or playlist.
It worked surprisingly well for this sort of software, even if it wasn’t always 100 per cent accurate.
An FM radio function is also built into the E72, playable with headphones attached as an antenna. Usefully it can download frequencies and details of local radio stations over the air as part of the regular set-up procedure. Alternatively, you can use auto or manual tuning if you prefer.
It’s simple to set up and operate, and the sound quality is perfectly acceptable through the ear-gear supplied.
Another crucial factor for any business phone is battery staying power, and we were very impressed by the E72 on this score.
Despite its slimline profile, the Nokia E72 packs a hefty 1500mAh battery that Nokia estimates can deliver almost 6 hours of talktime or 576 hours of standby on 3G networks (in GSM-only coverage areas, the figures are 12.5 hours’ talktime or 492 hours’ standby).
We frequently managed a comfortable three days of normal usage before reaching for the charger, though, as usual how much you use such features as Wi-Fi and GPS will be reflected in individual battery life experiences.
A comprehensive set of organiser tools and functionality is set up for the E72, emphasising its enterprise market appeal.
Its E-series calendar app offers plenty of functionality including the facility to create and receive meeting requests. Up to 1,000 contacts can be stored on the phone, dependent on memory availability, with multiple fields for storing detailed contact information.
Office tools include notes and active notes, clock, alarms, calculator and convertor functions, voice recorder and text to voice reader, plus a dictionary app that can read words to you and offer translations.
It also has an Adobe PDF document reader and a ZIP file manager.
In addition, a Quickoffice application provides a full suite of document reader functions for Word, Excel and PowerPoint file formats, plus the facility to edit and create documents.
The E72 also has a bunch of apps targeted at business users, including a business card/text scanner function and Psiloc’s Wireless Presenter for wireless presentations to other suitably enabled Wi-Fi equipped devices.
Nokia has also loaded up Psiloc’s World Traveller application for real-time updates to weather, travel information, currency rates and so on in whichever cities you choose worldwide.
Connectivity on the E72 is first rate, with Wi-Fi (WLAN 802.11b/g) and HSPA (up to 10.2Mbps downloading and up to 2Mbps uploading rates, subject to network support).
A Wi-Fi wizard helps you set up connections from the home screen, prompting you to select from visible networks within range and passcodes.
It’s reasonably straightforward to operate and use, and you can get automatic reconnection established when you go out of and then back in range again of the network.
The E72 is a tri-band WCDMA handset (900/1900/2100 MHz) or out of 3G coverage it can operate on quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), with EDGE and GPRS data connectivity.
Bluetooth 2.0 is onboard too, with A2DP stereo streaming support for headphones, speakers and so on. USB 2.0 connectivity is also included, with a microUSB port on the side of the phone and a cable supplied in-box.
Over the air syncing via ActiveSync is supported, while the E72 is also kitted out for local synchronisation using Nokia PC Suite or Ovi Suite.
MicroSD cards are supported, with a 4GB card supplied as standard. Cards up to 32GB can be used with the phone.
A Home Media application also enables users to stream and share content via home Wi-Fi networks with other suitably equipped media devices.
Our review sample of the Nokia E72 came with Nokia Maps pre-installed, although an upgrade to the latest version of Ovi Maps – which includes free voice-guided sat nav as part of an improved package and user interface – is available to download free of charge.
The in-built A-GPS location finding technology worked extremely smoothly in our tests.
From start-up, it locked on to satellites and pin-pointed our position rapidly, keeping accurate track of our movements. A compass also provides positioning orientation to help you find your way around.
Maps for the UK and Ireland are pre-loaded on the supplied memory card, so map refreshes are seamless. We’d recommend users whose phones aren’t already set up for Ovi Maps with satellite navigation to upgrade as soon as possible.
The user interface of the upgraded software is much more like an in-car sat nav setup, and more intuitive than Nokia’s previous version of its mapping app.
Free sat nav is another useful bonus, plus you can get Lonely Planet and Michelin guides free over the air.
The enhanced GPS experience certainly adds more to Nokia’s smartphone appeal.
Standard Nokia voice control software is complemented by a pre-loaded Vlingo voice-control application for messaging, emailing, texting and web browsing.
Additional apps include a search facility for scouring the phone’s content or searching online, while two gaming applications are included too.
There have been huge changes in the smartphone world since the Nokia E71 first landed. But with the E72, Nokia has evolved and refreshed its messaging-heavy enterprise phone offering rather than coming up with something revolutionary.
The E72 is a sleek and attractively designed QWERTY keyboard-packing smartphone, with a tremendously solid feel to it.
It offers some neat upgrades to the spec of the E71, with a faster processor under the bonnet, and presents a powerful email and all-round messaging solution for corporate users.
Its QWERTY keyboard is a pleasure to use for this kind of device, accurate and responsive, while the messaging software onboard is easy to set up with an appealingly user-friendly interface.
Additional features, such as the camera and A-GPS functionality, have been toned up too, providing a decent amount of downtime consumer appeal.
The S60 3rd Edition platform’s menu structure can, of course, be long-winded and the non-touchscreen user interface far from slick, but the familiarity of the typical Nokia smartphone system will no doubt appeal to some loyal Nokia buyers.
The QWERTY keyboard is tidily designed and nicely implemented for a great thumb-typing experience. It’s well laid out, with a very responsive action that makes message writing a breeze.
A strong suite of messaging applications underpins the appeal of the E72 for the business user, as does a generous helping of enterprise-orientated applications and features. It also has fine connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and HSPA.
Excellent build quality and a stylish yet understated chrome-edged design give the E72 some added substance and visual appeal.
We welcomed the responsive A-GPS technology and upgraded Ovi Maps sat-nav software, which worked a treat on the E72.
In addition, the music player, while not overly sophisticated, puts in an admirable audio performance. A 4GB MicroSD card and decent earphones in-box, plus the phone’s 3.5mm headphone socket, are also welcome.
The E72′s 2.36-inch display isn’t the largest on a smartphone, and we’d have liked a touch more room.
We liked some elements of the optical navigation key trackpad control, although we felt it wasn’t quite hitting the mark for ease of use and precision in some applications. We didn’t like its use in camera mode, in particular.
As usual, getting to some settings in the S60 third Edition menu system can be convoluted, and it can take plenty of clicks to negotiate the numerous menu structures. Still, long-standing Nokia smartphone fans will find the phone’s user interface very familiar.
The camera’s image quality wasn’t bad, but the camera results could have been improved with more robust autofocus control.
The Nokia E72 delivers a measured upgrade to the E71, enhancing its capabilities and boosting performance all-round without radically altering the essential QWERTY-keyboard template.
It provides a powerful messaging package with a very usable keyboard, complemented with an assortment of solid smartphone functionality and business apps.
It may not have the glamour of an iPhone, but it has plenty of appeal for the enterprise user looking for a reliable messaging device.