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Nokia has had mixed results when it comes to business phones, but it got pretty much all the ingredients right with the E71. It's been a long wait for the follow-up, but the E72 has finally arrived, featuring a faster processor, new optical joystick and upgraded camera. But is this new version as impressive as its predecessor?
The E72 can be snapped up for free on a £20-per-month, 24-month contract, or for around £300 SIM-free.
Skinny but tough
At first glance, the E72 doesn't look all that different to the E71. At 128g, it weighs pretty much the same, and it's still impressively slim, measuring a mere 10mm thick. Visually, the main difference is the chrome band that runs around the edge of the handset. It's a classy, business-like design, and the phone feels like it's built to last.
We're starting to see larger, high-resolution displays appearing on this type of messaging device, but the E72 is stuck with a relatively small, 60mm (2.4-inch) display with a pretty low resolution of 320x240 pixels. The screen is bright and colourful, but its small size and low resolution mean the phone isn't ideal for viewing Web pages.
Keys that please
Below the screen, you'll find a dedicated home button, along with handy keys to take you directly to the calendar, contacts book and messaging inbox. The four-way controller now has an optical joystick at its centre. This means you can move through menus by simply running your finger across the top of the sensor. It works reasonably well, but isn't all that much faster than just using the standard clickable controller.
The E71's keyboard was exceptionally good, and Nokia has made few changes to it with the E72. The only real difference is that the spacebar has been reduced in length to make way for two extra keys. The overall layout of the keyboard is still top-notch and the keys are very easy to type on, as each one is curved outwards slightly. It's still probably the best keyboard you'll find on any messaging phone.
Sail the Series 60 seas
The E72 runs the Series 60 operating system. While this isn't as modern-looking as the iPhone and Android operating systems, it's still relatively easy to navigate, and we like how you can switch between business and personal modes via simple icons on the home screen. It's very responsive too, helped, no doubt, by the phone's upgraded 600MHz ARM processor.
There's a good range of applications pre-loaded, including the full version of Quickoffice for creating and editing documents, and Nokia's Maps navigation software, which works very well with the phone's GPS chip. The handset's messaging features are also impressive. You get free access to Nokia's push-email service, and there's a wizard to guide you through setting up the phone for Gmail, Yahoo, Exchange and Lotus Notes email accounts.
As you'd expect from a Nokia business phone, the call quality is absolutely first-rate. Callers sound very clear and natural via the earpiece, and the mic also produces crisp, clean audio.
The upgraded, 5-megapixel camera captures sharp-looking snaps, with natural colours. There's also impressive wireless support, in the form of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and HSDPA connectivity. Unlike many smart phones, the E72's battery life isn't too bad -- you can expect to get two to three days of use from it before it needs a recharge.
The E72 is a fairly predictable update of the E71, rather than a radical overhaul, but the excellent messaging support, superb keyboard and sturdy build quality make this a fine messaging handset. Indeed, we can't help feeling that it may even tempt some BlackBerry users to jump ship.
Note that, although we gave the E71 a score of 8.9, we've given the E72 a score of 8.2, even though we consider it to be the superior handset. This has been to done to reflect the advances in the smart-phone market since the E71's release.
Edited by Charles Kloet