Nokia E5 review

Full review: Is this full QWERTY budget Symbian a Blackberry Curve rival?

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Is Nokia's budget N Series a Blackberry beater?

It’s hard to argue that Nokia’s E-series isn’t Espoo’s crowning achievement of recent years. The business-based blowers pack in great design, fit well with the functional but hardly fancy S60 interface and rock battery life that draws envious glances from Duracell bunnies.

The E5 is the latest, an entry-level model that nonetheless crams in HSDPA, a 5 megapixel camera and Wi-Fi. If ever a phone was after theBlackBerry Curve 3G, this is it.

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Messaging is at the heart of the Nokia E5. Everything about its email and text skills scream class. Setting up mailboxes is a breeze, no matter what provider you’re with and there’s even support for Microsoft Exchange, which makes the E5 perfect if you want a blower to double as your work email machine.

Mailbox handling is exceptional, with easy searching for old missives and straight forward switching between different accounts. It’s every bit as good as what the BlackBerry Curve 3G has to offer.

Nokia E5: Keyboard

The QWERTY panel is also a real winner, besting the BlackBerry competition. The keys are much softer than those on the Curve 3G, but have a pleasing heft to them when you’re tapping out texts. Like all full portrait keyboards, though, it takes some getting used too. Your hands can feel cramped, and if you prefer something more capacious, then perhaps an Android QWERTY slider, or even the Nokia E6, might be a better bet.

The dedicated messaging button does come in mighty handy though. A short press takes you straight into all your mail boxes, while a longer push takes you to a new text. This feature, brought across from E-series and C-series devices, really helps the E5 stand out from its rivals.

Nokia E5: Design and screen

The E5 is a stunner. It has a real heft to it and towers over the ultimately average BlackBerry Curve 3G. The metal finish and slimline feel add a real touch of class, making it a blower you won’t be embarrassed to pull out down the pub.

The navigation button design is textbook Nokia, and although this won’t delight all, it will please fans of the Finns’ phones. The larger form factor means these keys are much less awkward than on smaller efforts, such as those on the Nokia C5. However, S60 still remains unspectacular.

The 320 x 240 pixel 3-in screen renders icons in a nasty blocky fashion and while the homescreen, with its dedicated contact tiles and easy Ovi access is great, the menu structure feels more dated than a Britpop greatest hits collection.

Scooching around said menus is easy enough thanks to the nav key, but if you’re after something lush, simple and straightforward, iOS and Android provide better options.

Nokia E5: Multimedia

However, the E5 does manage to stand up well in the multimedia department against its key BlackBerry Curve rival at least. Video playback is poor thanks to that low res screen, but the music app is passable and much better than that on the Curve.

But it’s the camera where the E5 really stands out. At 5 megapixels and with a flash to boot, it’s much better than the woeful Curve 3G’s snapper.

Sling in a price tag of £199 SIM-free, some £30 cheaper than the Curve, and the E5 looks like a very smart smartphone indeed. But if we had to offer one key reason for buying the E5, it would be battery life. With 670 hours standby time and 5 and half hours 3G talk time, it’s a winner. In real terms, that translated to three solid days of browsing, mailing and music playing before we needed to power it up. That’s fantastic compared to other smarties.

The E5 is not a mobile for do-it-all smartphone fanatics. But it is a great work phone, albeit one which runs a somewhat shonky operating system. If you’re weighing up getting this or a BlackBerry, we’d recommend the E5 every time.

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Specifications
OS: Symbian S60
Storage: 250MB internal, SD up to 32GB
Screen: 3-inch 320 x 240
Connectivity: GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi
Camera: 5 megapixels
Video: VGA at 15fps
3G Talk time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Dimensions 115 x 59 x 13 mm
Weight: 126g

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