Monday, April 26, 2010

E72: Official Symbian Farewell

This is my first document being written on the Nokia E72 and there is a lesson to be learned in humility. To be reunited with an E Series device with a hardware qwerty feels amazing in itself, and I am indeed eating my words from before. Not too long ago I was extremely critical of Symbian for the 3rd and 5th editions as I made the switch to touch interfaces. At this point I do realize the pros and cons of 3rd edition and am willing to give it another try as a backup to my Nexus One. However, I still stand by my word that the likelihood of me returning to 5th edition is slim to none...unless a capable qwerty is introduced.

This is certainly a perfect time for trying the E72, for I have been desperate for a hardware qwerty since I sold the N900. As much as I had grown accustomed to the Nexus One virtual keypad, I still yearned for the increased accuracy and typing speed of tactile buttons. Unfortunately, the reality in the Android market is that (worthwhile) hardware keypads are hard to come by. Besides a few Motorola models, I was stuck with either keeping the Nexus and waiting for an Android phone or simply moving back to a hardware qwerty device. The Touch Pro 2 would have been considered, but its user experience via Windows Mobile and hacked XDAndroid is not up to par with a stable and reliable OS. The E72 offers the best combination of portability with favorable typing, and Symbian 3rd edition really isn't that bad. While this OS is not as flashy and smooth as the touch enabled Nexus, it is functional nonetheless. I still have to consider how long I held on to my E71 in the past, so the E72 with its upgraded features can definitely be worthwhile.

After Day One
It has been a full day with the E72 and I have activated Gravity, GooSync, Facebook for E70/E72 and the navigation function on Ovi Maps. There has been much triumph and frustration in the same unfolding of time passing. Even though I am pleased to be reunited with Gravity, its interface on the E72 screen is lacking in appearance and performance when compared to Seesmic on my Nexus One. GooSync proves to be a success after ten failed attempts to initiate syncing of calendars and contacts from the cloud, but this is bittersweet at best. In comparison to the flawless and automatic sync cycles of my Nexus with the Google cloud, GooSync is a much appreciated, yet limited band-aid. Not having contact pictures synced to the E72 may be trivial from certain aspects, but it still causes me to miss my able-bodied Nexus all the more. The Facebook application on the Symbian OS (3rd and 5th) has been consistent in being a complete FAILwith seldom freezes and erratic error messages. After a half hour of using this app on the E72, it was uninstalled immediately and I resorted to the mobile version in Web. Navigation in Ovi Maps is a novel attempt by Nokia to compete with Google Maps, but it honestly has little room to boast if any at all. The interface comes off as cluttered and confusing at times, yet voice directions are comparable to the Nexus. I noticed a little bit of lag in rerouting my path, but that could possibly be due to lack of compatibility with TMobile 3G. YouTube is a totally different beast when I think of the app on the Nexus One with its bigger screen and faster CPU. Speaking of CPU, the slower speed of this Nokia is quite apparent on this non-touch interface. This is only made worse by the feeling of being bound to only a d-pad when I feel free on the Nexus to swipe and tap practically anywhere. The Gmail experience is not bad, but it isn't great either. Hopefully S^3 (if it ever shows up) will do something to refresh the look and feel of the interface. Web is as good as expected and can have its bright moments, especially with flash video support. One minor thing that does turn me off is the plasticky matte build that dominates the E72 at the top and bottom. I just look back to my past E71 and its refined quality and can't help but see the E72 as a cheap downgrade despite certain cosmetic changes.

This isn't to declare that the E72 is the bearer of only negatives in my usage, for there are some notable positives. Quickoffice is the same standard fare with any document editor, yet it shines on the E72 with a hardware qwerty! I am thoroughly impressed with the camera for video recording and still images, yet the lack of quick share features directly from the gallery like on the Nexus is a huge con against efficiency. I can shoot video footage on the E72 and not worry at all about how the playback quality will turn out, and this certainly cannot be said for my Android. The torch and video light functions are truly useful at the most opportune times, and they step up to plate and deliver with no problem. It is great to hear the E72 say aloud the name of a contact who is callling, and convenient bluetooth and silent command keys on the qwerty are much appreciated. The slim form factor for easier portability is always a great thing on any phone, and the E72 doesn't disappoint. Solid audio quality on voice calls and ample battery life puts me at ease when I use every feature and multitask to my heart's content.

As much as I wanted to consider the E72 as a viable option to backup my Nexus, I have outgrown the Symbian non-touch OS, plain and simple. Everything I do on this phone (aside from qwerty typing) is so much slower than on the Nexus One. I know that I may have stated I am desperate for a hardware keypad on a device, but not at the expense of good software. Symbian 3rd edition for me is antiquated for me, and I am glad I gave this E72 another chance out of fairness. This basically sums up my preference for the Android OS and its many benefits on the Nexus One. It is a fresh and new concept that has pulled me from the monotony and boredom of Windows Mobile and Symbian. It also ventures to where Maemo can go and takes things a bit farther with impressive features. From this moment on, I will have to wait for a future Android device with a capable hardware qwerty and hold on to my Nexus in the meantime.

At one point I did want to go for the Samsung Galaxy S, but I have recently changed my mind on that. Samsung's track record in manufacturing devices has been lackluster for the most part with glossy plastics that showcase countless smudges and fingerprints. From previous times in holding both the Omnia HD and Omnia Pro slider, I still harbor low expectations of Samsung hardware...and I won't even get started into the clusterf*** horror that is TouchWiz! No matter how impressive the Galaxy S specs may be, its hardware has got to be worthwhile as well.

All in all, this may as well be considered my official farewell to Symbian until the next new edition is released. The E71 was definitely a worthy phone that I relied on for many uses, but the key word "was" rings true as I now look at my Nexus on the desktop dock. In the present and coming future, it seems that Android is making good progress in keeping me from falling into the "let me settle for an iPhone" trap. I just hope that Nokia will be able to do the same in due time instead of falling by the wayside to be forgotten by its high end customers.

At the end of this post, I shall forward it to my blog and promptly switch my SIM card back to the Nexus One. Life shall go on...with Android.

Trent Smith
Sent from my Nokia E72


Kamil SokoĊ‚owski said...

Interesting thoughts on the E72. I have the E71 for some time and like it, but it also has it's cons (for me it's the calendar, witch lacks a few options that I would recommend for a corporate targeted device).

I also have a questions. If such a fan of hardware qwerty keyboard, why don't review any of the blackberry devices. Can we expect from You at least a look in to RIM offerings;)?

TRENT said...

Actually, I have thought about testing RIM devices. Unfortunately, it requires a change in data plans with my carrier and a subscription to BES, and I am not willing to go through the inconvenience. I have heard that BlackBerry devices are not meant for apps usage or flashy UIs, but mainly for email communication.

While the BlackBerry line may have a promising hardware qwerty layout, I am afraid the OS would simply bore me. This very thing has happened with the E72 after all.

However, I have found an alternative to lengthy writings on a mobile device with a great hardware qwerty: the Nokia 9300.