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Monday, February 28, 2011

Nokia N8 PR2.0 update closer than ever

Another video demos the new supposed update for the Nokia N8, and I guess for it's Symbian^3 fellas as well. This one is a more recent version than the one from last week. This time it seems the browser has got the new window(or tab) ability we've all been waiting for. It still lags pretty much, but I guess that by the time it gets released to the public audience it won't be so unstable.

It also seems that the QWERTY virtual keyboard is a bit more polished, but not too much. Also the email client has got some new functionality and bling.

The icon theme seems to have changed across the whole UI, but that can be just a theme the guy who demoed the update may have installed, so don't start jumping up and down for joy before you see it with your own eyes.

Well, I guess we'll know in a short while if the update will be every Symbian fanboy's dream or not.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Nokia E5 in depth review

So, I finally finished the E5 review, E5 which I got courtesy of WOMWorld (thank you guys), and here it goes. As you may have seen in my previous reviews, I like to split the review into categories, and same goes with the E5's. But first, I'll let you know the general impressions the E5 left me.

QWERTY keyboard is very nice to feel and works hassle free. I like the fact that the phone turns into a flashlight even if it is locked. The bluetooth can be toggled by a long press on the Sym key and the silent profile can be toggled by a long press on the Ctrl key.

The large amount of RAM allows you to keep a lot of apps running without worrying you may get a memory full error. This comes quite handy as you can let an app like Socially run in the background and get live notifications from your social networks.

The Ovi store unfortunately does not give access to many of the great titles avaiable fos S60v5, but you can find java replacements for most missing apps. I'm only saying this because java apps run smoothly on this device, unlike Symbian touch phones.

One of the nicest surprises this phone has to offer is the fact that the user interface speed is constant despite the fact that it's running 10 apps at the same time. This is mainly because of the speedy CPU and the large amount of RAM. Yes, I said large, because S60 phones have got 128MB of RAM(yes, even the almighty E73) until this puppy. So the double amount of RAM, in my opinion, accounts for the high performance this phone provides.

Battery life is decent for a smartphone. It lasted me three days of heavy usage being WiFi and 3G enabled the entire time. Also, the screen brightness was at it's maximum value the entire time. Actually, 90 percent of this review was written on the phone itself, because once you get used with the hardware QWERTY, it's very easy to type on.

The only thing that I miss from my touch phone is the lock/unlock knob. The only way to lock the E5 is to go to the homescreen and press the left soft key followed by the right one, which adds another keypress(the home one) if you are inside another app at the time. I'm used to running an app, locking the phone right in the middle of it, and unlocking and pick up where I left of, and I can't do that with the E5. Not a deal breaker though.

The phone connected to every WiFi I threw at it without issues. I wrote in the previous review of the Nokia C7 that it did not connect to every WiFi network, but as it turns out, that was the router and not the phone.
 The email client allows viewing of HTML emails, and can be set to show the unread email status, along with a preview, on the homescreen. However, I updated to the latest version available from Betalabs.nokia.com(the built in version was 2 and the new one was 3) and there was a very welcomed speed improvement of the email client.

Even though, at times, the OS looks and feels outdated, this is a very capable OS packed with lots of features, for any kind of user, from business, to social addicts. Unlike the S60v5, the built in apps integrate well with each other.

One killer feature, that all touch phones wish they had is the ability to use keyboard shortcuts for operations such as Copy, Past and Cut, just as you would on your desktop (Ctrl+C for Copy, Ctrl+V for Paste and Ctrl+X for Cut).

If you want to see the contents of the box and the phone layout, check out my unboxing and first impressions post.


  • CPU ARM11 600MHz
  • Memory - 250 MB; 256MB RAM
  • 2G Network - GSM 850/900/1800/1900
  • 3G Network HSDPA 900/1900/2100 HSDPA 850/1900/2100
  • Dimensions - 115 x 58.9 x 12.8 mm, 75 cc
  • Weight - 126 g
  • Display - TFT, 256K colors, 320 x 240 pixels, 2.36 inches
  • Input - QWERTY keyboard
  • Sound and Alerts - Vibration, MP3 ringtones, Loudspeaker, 3.5mm jack
  • SD card slot - microSD, up to 32GB, 1GB included
  • GPRS, EDGE - Class 12
  • 3G - HSDPA 10.2 Mbps; HSUPA 2.0 Mbps
  • WLAN - Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, UPnP & DLNA technology
  • Bluetooth - v2.0 with A2DP
  • USB - v2.0 microUSB
  • Camera - 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, fixed-focus, LED flash
  • Video - VGA@15fps
  • OS - Symbian OS v9.3, Series 60 rel. 3.2
  • Radio - Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • Java - MIDP 2.0
  • Battery - Li-Ion 1200 mAh (BL-4D)

As you can see, the phone is pretty well geared up, now let's see how well it does on the software side.


The S60v3 FP2 edition is a mature OS with very good cross application integration, but I have to say that at moments I felt like the UI looked old, very old. It is stable, fast and does whatever needs to do in no time. The OS never crashed on me in about 2 weeks of usage, and I did not restart the phone during this period. Even so, the phone is as snappy as it was the day I took it out of the box.

The homescreen

The E5 homescreen has 5 available themes, the Active one, which is in fact a dual theme, with a Personal mode and a Business mode, the Contacts bar theme, which shows you up to 20 favorite contacts, the Horizontal icons, which is basically the same as the Active one but without the 2 mods or the clock on the left side, and less configurable, the Vertical icons and the basic theme.

Besides the basic theme, every other theme shows important information like the email notifications, the calendar events, 6 shortcuts, WLAN scanner and many other useful things. The homescreen functions include two soft buttons, which are set by default to Menu and Contacts, but can be changed to anything you may want. The hardware home button doubles as both Home button and Menu button, so if you want to change the Menu button to something else, there is still a way to access the menu easily.

The menu

The menu is the same menu you may have seen in all Symbian devices, from S60v3 to Symbian 3. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, because many OS's nowadays are struggling to incorportate this functionality. However, the wide choice of applications included with the E5 make the menu a little hard to figure out. You can get lost in all the subfolders of each folder, but you get used to it pretty quickly. If you don't you still can find everything easily using the search application.

The search application

The search application can help you find almost anything on your phone (I almost typed computer here, but if I would have, I wouldn't be far off). It searches application names, documents, emails, contacts, everything. If there is something you need from the E5, and you can't find it, this app will bring it to you. This app got me out of trouble many times during the 2 weeks I spent with the E5.

The contacts

The contacts app is pretty much the standard app for Symbian, allowing you to define loads of details for each contact. The app integrates best with the homescreen, where typing something searches your contacts for matches.

Selecting a contact from the matches, gives you various options like calling, texting or emailing that person without having to enter the dedicated contacts app for any of the operations(this feature is missing from S60v5).

The calendar

The calendar application but it is basically the same as seen on the older S60 versions. It has 4 views: Day view, Week view, Month view and ToDo view. You can easily add an event and set an alarm for it.

The calendar app is automatically synchronized with the Ovi account, so migrating to another phone is painless. The calendar app is linked to the homescreen calendar notification that shows the upcoming events for the current day, as well as the next week.

Ovi Maps

The maps application is the usual Ovi maps, which is pretty good, and gives you the ability to download maps when using WiFi and using them offline for navigation. It also offers current weather conditions for your location and a short forecast, and you can check the conditions on your destination too. The Events function shows you Events near your location, but for my city there were only Movies available. I guess in bigger cities there would also be more than that.

Ovi maps also integrates Lonely Planet country guide which can be useful if you are touring. The HRS hotels provides information about nearby hotels and you can book a room right from Ovi maps. Ovi maps also provides integration with Trip advisor which can recommend you places where you can stay, eat or just visit. You can share your location with your friends, center in on your position or search objectives on the maps.

File manager

As usual any Symbian device comes with an integrated file manager, that allows you to easily do file operations around your system.

This is one of the Symbian’s strongest points because there are not many phones out there that have a good file manager, not even smartphones, and this one is state of the art. You can sort files, move them around, order them, pretty much whatever you can do with a decent desktop file manager.

Ovi sync

Ovi sync works as usual, synchronizing the Contacts, Calendar and Notes data with Ovi, which can prove very useful when you lose your phone or switch to another phone. The synchronization only requires an Ovi account, and can be set to synchronize itself with Ovi manually, daily, weekly and so on, as well as whenever the data changes.

The social networking


Now, on to the social part. The phone comes with a sleek Facebook. It has 4 tabs, Home, Profile, Friends and Inbox. Each tab is pretty self explanatory so I won't go into details.

The Facebook client integrates with the Contacts application allowing contacts synchronization and viewing your friends' statuses right in the contacts list. You have to run a match contacts operation from the Facebook client settings panel for that to happen. You can also set the matching to occur automatically after a specified time interval.


You also get an integrated chat client that can connect to any service you may need. This is a nice surprise since the E5's S60v5 brethren have no such thing(the WRT chat client available for S60v5 is useless). The chat client allows multiple accounts and shows each of them in separate tabs. Above the contacts list, you can see your current conversations.

Left in the background the Chat application provides live updates and sound notifications.

Unfortunately, there is no trace of Twitter integration, but there are plenty of clients out there, many of which are free. Some of them are Snaptu and Socially, that you can see in the images above. Both are great social networking clients. Socially provides live notifications for your social networkings, while Snaptu is much more than a social networks client, it is practically an entire apps suite with Weather, News, Movies and many many more.

The business side


Being a business class device, the E5 comes with a Quickoffice license, that unlocks the full potential of the Quickoffice suite. You can edit and create Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations with ease. You can edit font size, style, paragraphs and all things needed in an office suite.

The QWERTY keyboard and D-pad come in handy especially when editing spreadsheets, unlike S60 touch devices, where every touch triggers the editing of a cell instead of scrolling down. Bottom line is this: Office suites are for business phones, and the E5 proves that.

The Settings

The settings application can be a bit confusing for someone who did not have anything to do with Symbian before. It is not very intuitive but with if you dig in a little, you'll discover it brings customization to a whole new level. You can edit profiles, visual themes, phone settings, calling options, manage applications and connectivity.

For a profile, you can set the usual options, like ringtones, vibration and many more options. The theme customization includes changing the visual themes, and the call image.

If you want to change the background of your homescreen, you can do so for each of the 3 homescreens using the Options button. The application manager allows you to setup additional options like internet access point, and other security options for applications that support that, and also uninstall unwanted apps. The calling options include the usual Calling options, Speed dial, Call mailbox, Call divert and Call barring options. You can enable things such as on-call details, summary after all and many more.

The Connectivity covers the Network settings, WLAN settings and scanning, Bluetooth, Data transfer which includes Ovi Sync to synchronize your Contacts, Calendar and Notes with the Ovi services, Video sharing and FM transmitter settings.

The Application settings allows you to set default applications for photos, music, videos and web pages, setup your SMS messaging options, video streaming options, call log settings, voice recorder settings, camera, search and calendar. If you find too many options it confusing, just use the Settings wizard to get some help.

Web browser

The web browser is the basic S60 web browser, and besides flash support it doesn't offer much. The flash support works well with pages lite on flash, but heavy flash websites render the browser useless. Tabbed browsing is nowhere to be seen and opening a link in a new window cannot be done unless the link itself has the target attribute set.

That being said, I would recommend you grab Opera Mini which is free on the Ovi Store. There are moments when Opera and the native browser complement each other, like some download links that the native browser opened as text files but Opera Mini downloaded them as it should have, and there were situations when things were the other way around.

The Gallery

The gallery is pretty useful, but I found it lagging when it contained large amount of images, so that's not very good considering the CPU and RAM on the E5. That can only make me think it's a software problem. Anyway, the gallery is presented in a horseshoe shape and most of the times works well.

A very good thing is that the gallery supports multiple selection, which most of S60v5 devices don't have. This function allows you to easily send multiple files via bluetooth or message.


RealPlayer takes care of the video side of the gallery. Unfortunately there is no divx support out of the box, so you'll need to install a third party software to take care of that.


The radio application allows you to tune in to your favorite radio stations, and you favorite internet radios. In order for the FM tuner to work, you need to have the headsets plugged in.

Music player

The music player is the basic S60 music player, but it takes care of the job. It can sort your tracks by Artist, Genere, Compose and Album. You can create your own playlists easily, and you can even follow podcasts.

The music player has the ability to change the equalizer settings, having 6 predefined settings available. Whenever the music player is actually playing a song, the homescreen music notification becomes active showing you what track is playing.

Ovi store

The Ovi store unfortunately is the same client, that looks like a web based rather than a stand alone application.

It has sections for Recommended item, Applications, Games, Audio and Video, Personalization and a tab called My stuff. All tabs have filters for free content and paid content.

The My stuff tab shows you all the stuff that has been downloaded from your Ovi account, which is a good thing if you need to change you phone, and you don't remember what you had previously installed.


The messaging department is packed with anything you may need. Composing a new message is as easy as can be, and that is mostly thanks to the QWERTY keyboard that is a bliss for any heavy texter outthere. You can easily add as many recipients as you wish by selecting them from your contacts checklist. You can also choose to send an SMS to an entire group.

You get the usual Inbox, Sent, Drafts and Outbox folders, as you would expect, and you can create your own folders under the My Folders option, so you can freely move your messages around.

The Email client

Email client supports full HTML emails, sorting, search emails and much more, and moves very fast too. HTML email Message settings The email viewer can expand and collapse headers information, can show or not the images by default.

You can open links straight from the email client. In the settings dialog you can setup your mail client to download images automatically, and to sort email, or better said group them or not by days. You also have quick actions available on each email, by pressing the right D-pad key. Your email account is shown on the homescreen in a widget that shows the name of the email account and the number of unread emails. It can also be configured to show a popup with the last emails when the widget is selected.

Call log

The call log is available when pressing the green key when the phone is on standby unlocked and it is split into 4 tabs, missed calls, received calls, outgoing calls and packet data.

It would have been nice however to have them all in one screen, well at least the calls, in maybe a fifth tab of the call log app. The logs are kept for maximum 30 days, not that you would need more than that.


In the camera department, the E5 is not something extraordinary, but it does the occasional snapper job well, with the 5MP camera. The camera quality is pretty decent even in low light conditions. The video recording on the other hand, lacks framerate, recording only VGA resolution at 15fps, which is a complete mistery to me, since the 5230 I used to own, had a slower CPU(only 434MHz compared to the 600 on the E5), a lower quality camera(only 2MP) and half the amount of RAM, and still managed to shoot VGA at 30fps. I guess only Nokia knows why. Anyway, here are some sample pictures:

The camera can shoot videos with using the LED flash as video light, but the flash can also be turned on or off, or just to reduce the red-eye effect.


The Notes application is the same reliable note taking app, that has a very nice look thanks to the Nokia White theme. The notes are synchronized with Ovi if you use Ovi Sync. This app has helped me troughout this review. With it I wrote the most of the review.

Active notes

The active notes are basically the usual notes available on any Symbian device, but with the ability to add media objects to them. This is pretty cool, but for those of you who are using Ovi Sync to synchronize your Notes, keep in mind that the Active notes are not synchronized with Ovi.


The clock app lets you see your upcoming alarms on the same screen as the clock. An additional screen is available that lets you see all your alarms in a list, along with useful data about them (such as day and time).

You can add as many alarms as you like. Each alarm can be set o act only once, or can be repeated on a daily basis or only on work days. It also has a world clock tab, where you can setup as many cities around the world as you like.

Application manager

The application manager allows you to uninstall the existing apps, as well as set up various parameters, depending on each application. For example, for Java apps you can set the internet access point and access to phone user data. One thing that I didn't like about the way the E5 manages the access points of the Java apps, is that once you set an access point, there is no fallback access point in case the set access point is removed, so you find yourself unable to connect to the internet from java apps without an apparent reason.

The calculator

The calculator app is pretty basic and allows simple operations such as adding, multiplying, and the most advanced operation seems to be the square root. However, I found the app useful when I needed fast calculations, and to be honest, I never found myself needing to compute the sin or cos of something ever since I started using cellphones back in 1998.


The E5 also has a Dictionary application that includes only English language by default, but can download more languages if needed.

Other applications

The converter includes currency converter and other units converters, but unfortunately does not have live updates for currencies.
The device manager app, is practically a status app, that gives you detailed information about your phone's software and hardware versions.

The GPS data gives you detailed information about your location and upcoming trips.
The landmarks applications allows you to save landmarks for later usage, just like you would use bookmarks in a web browser.

The Message reader reads your SMS messages out loud when you are not in a position to read the message on your phone, like when you're driving.

The voice commands application helps you quickly launch an application, or call a contact, using a simple vocal command.

The 3D tones app allows you to make your phone ring with a cool 3D like effect.
Share online helps you share any kind of content from your phone with your online communities.

The Shazam app gives you access to the online song recognition service. You can simply record a song from an source like your car's stereo, or anything else, and it will recognize the song and let you download it if possible.
The Voice Recorder app provides audio recording. It saves the files in aac format and can record files up to 1 hour long.

The Encryption app allows you to password encrypt your phone's memory and your SD card too. The memory can still be used with the phone, but won't be able to be read by outside source unless they provide your password.
The intranet explorer gives your phone access to an intranet network, by connecting to a WiFi router.

The media sharing application allows you to sync you media content with other compatible devices. The E5 is DLNA enabled, so if you have a DLNA device at home, they will gladly work together.

The YouTube app is the official YouTube client for S60 that allows you to view YouTube videos on your phone. You can sign in using your username.
The podcast app gives you access to your favorite podcasts on your E5.

My Nokia app, keeps you in touch with your My Nokia account, or if you don't have one, it helps you sign up for one.
The music search app, is a voice recognition app that recognizes the name of the artist and song, from your voice input(all you need to do is say the name of the artist and the name of the song), and finds it for you.

Bottom line is this: this phone is a very good value for money phone. It will pleasantly surprise you.