Saturday, April 07, 2007

My Nokia E65 Review

I first posted (here) about the official releases of the newest E-series models; E90, E61i and E65. To date, only the E65 has reached our shores.

I never thought about it much when I first heard that it was released here. Seeing it on most websites, I figured it was pretty much the same as the Nokia 6280 / 6288; a typical flimsy-and-not-so-solid slider phone, with same Nokia OS... basically nothing to shout about. So I didn't even bother to make my way to the shops to check it out in hand. (Besides, I was more curious about the E90 and E61i anyway). It was only recently, when I visited a couple I knew, BOTH of whom were sporting the Nokia E65's, like a His (mocha colour) & Her's (red colour) thing. And when I first held it in hand, I was blown away! It was the total opposite of what I had pictured it to be, or read from my websites. I was sadly mistaken. And now that I have a unit in hand, you will understand why. Read on...


1 x E65 unit
1 x Nokia BL-5F battery
1 x Travel Charger AC-4X
1 x Pop port USB cable
1 x Pop port stereo headset
1 x E65 suede pouch
1 x 256MB Micro SD (with adapter)
1 x User guide and other reading material
1 x Nokia PC Suite software CD

First impressions
Aside from already having felt it in hand at my friend's place, I still opened up the box (with glee) to be greeted by a mocha coloured E65 unit all nicely wrapped up in its plastic protection, looking up at me from its cardboard enclosure. Immediately putting in my SIM card, and then the battery, I started it up. While waiting, I began examining every single button, its leather-textured back cover and the whole general form factor. I was impressed. It feels really solid and executive material. That is a plus point to me.

Physical Aspects / Build quality

  • Available in either Mocha or Red, the E65 is a slim slider-form factor. As I mentioned earlier, its similar to the Nokia 6280 / 6288, but worlds apart in terms of feel. The (top half) front of my mocha E65 review unit has a mocha coloured matt finishing with brushed silver buttons, surrounded by a chrome lining.
  • The E65 sports a new design with the 4 function keys on the front. E-series has done a good write up, with pictures, here. So I won't try to add on too much to this. All I can say is that its quite useful. Nokia has put some thought into this it seems. The Call / End and two menu buttons do seem a bit small though I have to say, but they are also raised, so at least pressing it shouldn't be a problem. I suppose it just takes getting used to.
  • Sliding up the E65, by either a slight push from the bottom or on the phone's screen by using your thumbs, there's a nice clunk sound when the E65 is fully opened, or closed. The keypad beneath is also brushed silver in colour and is designed in such a way, that each key has a ridge that "juts" out, making it very easy and comfortable to press. Those with big hands / fingers like me should have no problem here.
  • The (bottom half) back of the E65 sports the camera in the top centre (as pictured) with a leather textured battery cover. This is a nice touch from Nokia. Aside from adding a bit of class, it acts as a non-slip surface so that you won't easily lose grip of your E65.
  • On the right hand side, you will find 4 buttons. The increase / decrease volume buttons, a voice recorder button and a quick edit button (I'm not sure why this button is located here, as I don't see a use for it). It is worth mentioning though, that you won't find any dedicated camera buttons on the side at all. This means, using your camera, you'd have to use the button in the middle of the 5 way navi key on the front of the E65. Very odd.
  • The memory slot (for the packaged 256MB micro-SD) is located by the side of the SIM card area. And yes, this means you would have to remove the battery cover just to insert / remove the micro-SD. In my opinion, this is ideal, so that you won't misplace this tiny sized memory card so easily!

Display / User Interface

  • Sporting a 16 million QVGA screen, with the latest S60 3rd Edition Symbian OS, the screen resolution is in a word, beautiful. (Very similar to the N80, N73 and E61 when they first came out though). It makes you just want to look at your screen numerous times a day (I sure did!). Due to this reason alone, the Active Standby (I'll touch on this under Other features) and camera photos look great. The wallpapers and themes look good too, now a standard feature, and can be customized to suit every individual's needs.
  • The menu key, oddly enough, is located right at the bottom of all the buttons on the front. It is one of the smallest keys there, which is one of my issues. At first, it took me a while to figure out where the menu button was because I couldn't see it! But after discovering it, it brought me to the familiar Symbian menu, in a grid style layout, using the 5 way navi key making it a breeze to browse around. You could easily find your way around without referring too much to the guides / manuals.
Calls / Messaging
  • E65 supports Push Email services from Nokia (Intellisync), Microsoft (Exchange), Blackberry (Blackberry Connect), SMS, MMS and more. Although its capabilities are abundant, it probably won't mean much to the average Bruneian user. Meaning, its probable that only SMS's, MMS's and the occasional email accessing will be used the most. As I mentioned earlier, with the raised ridge-like buttons, typing SMS's should not be a problem. I actually enjoyed using the keypad myself, sending the odd few SMS's every so often. So no complaints here.
  • Call quality on the E65 is superb, as expected. Calls made were without any problems, with both parties being able to talk / hear quite clearly. The loudspeaker performance is satisfactory too. I never have any gripes about this functionality with Nokia anyway.
Multimedia / Camera performance and quality
  • The Nokia Eseries are generally known as business phones, targeted towards business people on the go. What this means is that, although a music player is included into their models, don't expect iPod like features and functionalities in these phones. (Nokia addresses this by releasing "Music editions", which I really find quite pointless. But hey, that's another story altogether). But generally speaking, the E65's music player does its job as it should. Songs / ringtones can be heard quite clearly, depending on your taste of music of course. And the included earphones are of standard issue too, so don't expect heart-thumping-boom-making quality from them. But, like I said, E65 would satisfy any average user that wants to have a few songs to listen to every so often. Besides, how many songs can you store on a 256MB micro-SD anyway? (Note: E65 does supports up to 2GB for memory capacity)
  • Camera wise, the performance is satisfactory for a 2 mega pixel camera phone. Here are some shots taken (see provided shots below. Drinks at a cafe, a Fan at a house and the PC Fair at Mall this weekend)

  • Those that I've showed these photos to, were impressed with the quality. But I do suspect though, that its partly due to the screen resolution. I would not expect it to be print-material but its definitely good enough for capturing those special moments in your daily outings. Plus, there isn't any flash LED, macro mode or auto focus, which limits the conditions you could use the camera in anyway. My main issue here would be the lack of a dedicated camera button by the side.

Other features - PIM based features, Battery Life, Connecivity and etc
  • With the QVGA screen, I have to say that the Active Standby feature has always been joy to view for me. Nokia has improved this feature since the days of the Nokia 6680's, till now, which really benefits end users like us. Aside from customizing all the quick keys on the top (a maximum of 6), seeing your appointments for the day, and having a shortcut to search for WLAN accesses around, the E65 adds new features which allows you to see Missed Calls, New messages, Voice mails or similar notifications as a pop up message or on your Active Standby. Quite handy. I won't touch on Memo / Calendar / Clock entries though, as they are no major changes here.
  • Since starting out the day with a fully charged battery, coupled with a few calls, numerous SMS's, camera photo shot taking, mp3 music listening, and menu customizing, the battery meter has not moved by even one bar at the end of the day! I am impressed! The E65 is proven to have a long battery life, which should be great news for any potential buyer interested.
  • Connectivity wise, the E65 has available for you, the full onslaught of every feature you'd need; Quad band EGSM, 3G, Wifi, USB 2.0, IRDA and Bluetooth 1.2. I have tested the wifi search on the E65 and it is f-a-s-t. Reading my own blog on the E65's screen was straightforward, after selecting the wifi source of course. Sending files on bluetooth was also noticeably faster than previous models I've tested on. However, being a 3G phone, this is yet another model without the front facing camera, which I would expect as a minimum for all 3G phones really. So, you are limited to using 3G for data purposes only with the E65.
  • Amongst the numerous applications which are included in the set, there are two key features which I will mention. The first is Quickoffice. It is now read / editable, which should be good news for the business person on the go. The second, is Team Suite. This is an application which allows easy communication and collaboration among teams. But, I doubt that it would work here in Brunei. What a pity.

Problems / Issues
  • I didn't like the fact that fingerprints and face smudges can so easily be made on the chrome surrounding on the front cover. Maybe that is why a suede pouch is included in the sales package.
  • I found the menu button to be a bit too small, and to make it worse, its location on the bottom of all the buttons on the front. Those with big thumbs would find this an issue.
  • The 2 mega pixel camera could be improved as well. Aside from the lack of flash LED, macro modes and auto focus, there wasn't a dedicated camera key on the side of the phone either. You will be limited to using the center button on the 5 way navi pad.
  • A 3G phone without a front facing camera for video calls?

d3xlabs recommendations

Having the E65 to test for a couple of days has been great. Despite the minor problems I had with it, I will definitely regret returning it. It feels very different from the other Nseries or Eseries Nokias that came before it. Selling at BND700+, it is reasonably priced for a phone of this calibre. Executives will love it because of its class and appeal, the general public will love it for its size and feel. Already, there are dozens out there using this model, and more to come. I even contemplated about getting one myself if I wasn't using a Treo 680.

So would I recommend the E65? Yes.


Bulimic said...

after much encouragement from the couple, esp the one with the red number now, i have got myself one of the mocha ones too!

It was simply love at first touch! I simply cant stop fiddling with the phone, its just a joy to explore ;)

$700 well spent I tell ya!

Bulimic said...

Oh, my "review" here.

Also I've played with the N95. Its like "WOW!" but I didnt have the itch to get it. I think I'll wait for the 2nd edition, this first one seems kinda flimsy to me *hehehe*

d3xlabs said...

Hi Bulimic. LOL, the "one with the red number" huh? Yea you can't miss her now! *grin*
(Red number, if you're reading this, you're so cute! Take it easy ok!)

I agree with you on the $ well spent. Heck, I'd get it too if I didn't have my Treo. Gotta maintain my goal you see. LOL.

Wait for my review on N95.

*Coming soon*

d3xlabs said...

Bulimic, you bought 3 nokias?!?
WOW... =p

Bulimic said...

d3x: yup! crazy i know! hehe. next i want that 3G LG Shine ;p

d3xlabs said...

LG shine? It looks nice cosmetically (literally)... I'll try get my hands on one. =)

Nonnie King said...

Just a suggestion, can state the price too next time?

d3xlabs said...

hi nonnie,
actually, I do mention prices. Its at the bottom, under "Recommendations".
So, are u gonna change ur w850i yet? LOL

Nonnie King said...

Erm.. If I see the next best one with a good price, I might.


Uri Kalish said...

Thanks 4 the info! I'm gonna buy myself a Nokia E65 next week.

d3xlabs said...

Hi Uri, you're most welcome. Thanks for dropping by!