Nokia E90 – The monarch beckons

10 Jul
I met Antti Vasara, senior vice president and general manager, mobility devices business unit in January, a couple of weeks before the 3GSM World Congress. During this meeting, he revealed that Nokia was working on a new Communicator after a period of nearly two years. True to his words, the E90 was unveiled at Barcelona.
The E90 marks a change in Nokia’s perception of business devices. The Communicator, which was always looked upon as a serious, e-mailing device now comes across as a well-rounded, feature rich and classy handheld. If the original Communicator series targeted men aged 30 years and above, the E90 will appeal to the fairer sex and youngsters as well. Rather than serving the boring blacks, greys and silvers, Nokia has chosen two unusual colours – mocha and red.
Most people have a love-hate relationship with the Communicator series. They love the features that these devices have but hate the ‘pencil box’ shape and it won’t change with the E90 either. It still remains a big boy and pretty heavy as well at 210 gram. To put it into a perspective, the Sony Ericsson P990i weighs just 150 gram. To be fair to the E90, it is 20 gram lighter than the 9500, if that gives you any respite.
Nokia has given the E90 much more than a mere facelift. The plastic hinges in the older Communicator has given way to more sturdy and functional metallic ones. The most significant upgrade, however, has been the OS. Earlier, the Communicator used to work on Symbian S80 when used with the cover open and S40 when used with the cover closed. Due to the use of two different OS many tasks couldn’t be carried out with the cover closed. The E90, on the other hand, works only on one OS — S60 third edition. With the E90, one can open any application with the cover closed. What’s more, if you open the cover, the app instantly transfers on to the main screen.
When it comes to connectivity, the E90 leaves no option unturned. As expected, it is a 3G device with support for HSDPA and is Wi-Fi enabled (802.11 b/g). The Communicator is no longer just a business phone. In fact, its specifications might lead some to believe that the E90 is an over sized multimedia phone. It has an onboard 3.2 megapixel camera, FM radio, dual speakers, A2DP profile for Bluetooth and a GPS receiver. Like some other recent high-end phones from Nokia, the E90 has a mini USB port for connecting with a PC.
Despite being armed to the teeth, everything boils down to the performance of the device. We have been using the E90 for over a week now and the device has left us pretty impressed. It does feel big initially but after a couple of days we got used to it. You can see in the pic above that the E90 is as big as an open Samsung E840. The S60 third edition OS works smoothly and transition of applications from the small primary screen to the bigger secondary screen happens without a glitch. As always, Nokia bundles QuickOffice with the product and one can even edit documents. The E90 also supports Mail for Exchange and BlackBerry Connect 4.0 to handle e-mails. Talking about e-mails, typing in the dark has become easier as now even the QWERTY keypad is backlit. However, the keys could have been better demarcated to make typing comfortable.
Browsing the Internet on the wide screen is an experience in itself. We got so hooked on that we preferred the E90 to surf the web over our laptops. A new feature that Nokia has added is Active Notes. You can now attach notes to a contact and access it when you are talking to that person. You can then edit the same while talking and later e-mail it or SMS it to others. It is just like you make notes on ‘post its’ and then compile the notes after the call. Quite a handy application, we would say.
The E90’s performance as a multimedia device is exceptional. The 3.2 megapixel camera is equipped with auto-focus and flash, and is capable of delivering sharp pictures. And when it comes to audio quality it can compete with the likes of the N91 and the N95. Should we say anymore? The battery lasted for over two days with over two hours of web browsing and an equivalent duration of calls every day.
With a 120 MB internal memory and a microSD card slot for further expansion, the E90 makes for a perfect choice when you need something more than a phone. Unlike the earlier Communicators, don’t be surprised if you see affluent youngsters going for this one rather than spending the same amount on an N95. After years of spending time in hiding, Nokia’s Communicator has finally arrived.

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