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Nokia E75 review: Nokia E75

Nokia E75

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Bonnie Cha
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Bonnie Cha

Former Editor

Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.

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9 min read

Announced at GSMA 2009, the Nokia E75 is the latest Nokia E series smartphone to hit the market. Unlike the Nokia E71/E71x, the E75 features a more compact, cell-phone-like design, which is a welcome change from the recent deluge of slate QWERTY devices. In addition, the E75 includes the company's new Nokia Messaging application, which improves the mobile e-mail experience. Yet, despite the robust messaging capabilities, we were slightly disappointed in the call quality, and the unlocked phone costs around $530. However, if you crave the design, something that's lacking at most of the major carriers, the Nokia E75 is a solid choice, and we favor it slightly more than the similar HTC S743.

OVR
7.3

Nokia E75

The Good

The Nokia E75 offers a compact design while managing to fit in a full QWERTY keyboard. The smartphone ships with Nokia's new messaging client, which features push delivery for all accounts. Other highlights include 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

The Bad

The E75 is expensive. Call quality wasn't the best, and the dialpad on front is cramped.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia E75 is a nice alternative to the current crop of slate QWERTY messaging smartphones, offering a compact design without sacrificing the keyboard or e-mail capabilities. However, without carrier backing, the unlocked phone is a bit expensive.

Design
It's been a little while since we've seen something other than a slate QWERTY device in the Nokia E series, so the Nokia E75 is a refreshing change. In its closed state, the E75 looks like a regular candy-bar-style phone and measures 4.4 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 4.9 ounces. While fairly compact and pocketable, the handset is a little on the hefty side, but it's made with quality material and has a nice solid construction. We also like the design better than the similar HTC S743. Nokia offers the E75 in black or red.


The Nokia E75 features a compact design.

On front, you'll find a 2.4-inch, 16 million-color QVGA display. It's a good size screen considering the smaller chassis, and it's quite sharp and vibrant. In addition, it features a light sensing technology that adjusts the display's brightness depending on what environment you're in. As always, you can customize the Home screen with various themes, wallpaper, and change the font size.

Also, like the Nokia E71, you can switch between two different home views depending on whether you're at work or play. In Business mode, the phone gives you immediate access to your e-mail and productivity apps, while switching to the Personal view will bring recreational features, like the media player, N-Gage games, to the forefront. It's a nice touch by Nokia to help you get out of work mode at the end of the day, but if you find you don't use the feature that much or don't care for it, there's an option to turn it off in the control panel.

Below the screen, there are a set of navigation controls that include two soft keys, Talk and End/Power buttons, shortcuts to your Home page, calendar, and messages, a back button, and a Navi key. The latter is just Nokia's fancy name for the directional keypad. Also, by holding down the shortcut buttons, you can also perform other tasks. For example, with a long press of the Calendar key, you can create a new event. We were initially worried that the keys were too close to each other, but we didn't run into many mispresses in real-world use.

The alphanumeric keypad is similar to the Nokia N79, though the numbers and letters are more bold. As we said in our N79 review, we're not huge fans of the layout. The problem isn't the lack of spacing between the keys but the number rows are thin, so it's easy to press the wrong button if you're not paying attention.

The E75 is a slider phone, and when you shift the front cover to the right, you'll find the full QWERTY keyboard. The sliding mechanism is smooth and feels durable. The cover locks securely into place, and the screen orientation automatically changes from portrait to landscape mode. The keyboard buttons are large and have a nonslippery texture, so we were able to type messages without major error. Our only complaint is that the keys are pretty flat; we typically like a little raise or bump to them so they're easier to press, but otherwise, we're quite happy with the E75's keyboard.


We were generally pleased with the E75's keyboard. The buttons are large but just slightly flat.

The left side houses the micro USB port and microSD expansion slot, both of which are protected by an attached cover. Inserting and removing a memory card proved to be a little difficult, however, and it felt like we were playing a game of Operation. On the right, you'll find a volume rocker, a mute/push-to-talk button, and a camera activation/capture key. The power connector is located on the bottom, while the top of the unit has a 3.5mm headphone jack, which we always love to see. Finally, the camera, flash, and self-portrait mirror can be found on the back of the phone.

The Nokia E75 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a 4GB microSD card, a wired stereo headset, a soft protective case, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.

Features
The Nokia E75 is powered by Nokia's S60 platform (Feature Pack 2 based on Symbian OS v9.3) platform and offers a user interface and features similar to previous E series devices. There are some minor tweaks to the UI, but the biggest difference between the E75 and the rest of the E family is e-mail. The E75 is the first S60 device to ship with the new Nokia Messaging application, which allows you to easily set up access to numerous accounts and receive real-time delivery of messages.

Nokia Messaging supports a range of e-mail clients, including Yahoo, Windows Live, Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, and IBM Lotus Notes. Setup is a snap as you simply enter your e-mail address and password; we were able to hook up both our Yahoo and Gmail accounts with no problem. Once a new e-mail arrives, you'll receive a notification on the home screen where you can open the message. However, from there you can't go directly to your in-box. Instead, you have to exit the message and then go to the e-mail app, which seems pretty circuitous to us. From a drop-down menu in your in-box, you can view your various folders and Nokia Messaging also supports HTML-formatted e-mails.

The Nokia E75 is well-equipped to handle other duties aside from messaging. The smartphone comes with full support for viewing and editing Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents via the Quickoffice suite. The E75's Web browser is Nokia's own and includes support for Flash Lite 3.0, so you're able to view and use such sites as YouTube right from the browser. The handset also includes a number of PIM applications and organization tools, including Adobe Reader, a ZIP Manager, a calendar, notes, a calculator, a clock, a voice recorder, a currency converter, and more. If you're worried about security, you can encrypt the data both on your phone and your memory card.

Of course, applications have quickly become an important factor in the world of smartphones, and to keep up with the competition, Nokia has opened its own app store called the Ovi Store. While the store suffered some performance issues on opening day due to heavy traffic, we had no problems installing and accessing the storefront from the E75. The store's interface isn't the slickest but does offer tabbed category views and a search feature. We successfully downloaded a number of applications, including games, utilities, social networking apps, and news sources like AP News. The Nokia E75 only has about 50MB of internal memory, but the microSD expansion slot can accept up to 16GB cards and you can also save apps to the storage card.

The smartphone works with AT&T's 850/1900MHz HSDPA bands, so unfortunately, if you're using a T-Mobile SIM, you'll be restricted to EDGE, since the carrier's 3G network operates on the 1700/2100MHz bands. However, the E75 also has integrated Wi-Fi, so you don't always have to rely on a cellular connection to get online.

Moving on to the phone features, the Nokia E75 offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, speed dial, voice commands, VoIP calls, and text and multimedia messaging. The address book is limited only by the available memory, while the SIM card can hold an additional 250 contacts. Each entry has room for multiple numbers, an e-mail address, home and work addresses, a Web URL, and so forth. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo, group ID, or a custom ringtone. Bluetooth 2.0 is onboard with support for mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, dial-up networking, file transfer, and more.

The E75 has integrated GPS/A-GPS. The smartphone ships with the Nokia Maps 2.0 app, which offers plenty of navigation tools, including satellite and hybrid maps, and pedestrian and bicycle modes. With the purchase of the phone, you get a three-month complimentary subscription to its turn-by-turn navigation services. Afterwards, you will to pay $13.96 a month to continue the service or $125.77 for a one-year license.

While the Nokia E series is largely about business, the E75 includes a number of multimedia features as well. The built-in media player supports MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, and eAAC+ files. The music library categorizes tracks by artists, albums, genres, and composers; you can also create playlists right on the phone and adjust the sound with the built-in equalizer. There's also support for podcasts and the phone offers Internet radio and an FM tuner. If you'd like to watch other videos, you can use RealPlayer to check out 3GPP and MPEG-4 files.


On back, you'll find the E75's 3.2-megapixel camera and flash.

The E75 is also equipped with a 3.2-megapixel camera with an 8x digital zoom, LED flash, and video recording capabilities. You get a plethora of tools and options on the camera, including autofocus, a self timer, and red-eye reduction as well as your standard white balance settings, color effects, and more. In video mode, there are five quality settings, but you only have access to controls for the scene mode, white balance, and color. Once you're done snapping photos or videos, you can share them via multimedia message, e-mail, or Bluetooth; set them as your phone's wallpaper or assign them to a contact; or post them to the Web, whether it's on Nokia's Ovi service or a site like Flickr.


We weren't particularly impressed with the camera's photo quality.

Picture quality was a little disappointing in that there was a slight bluish tint to indoor shots. The objects in the image were clear enough. Unfortunately, video quality was pretty grainy, so the viewing experience wasn't all that great. There isn't much of a lag from the time you press the capture button to the time the photo is actually taken, but we did notice that you have to hold down the key for a while when you first want to activate the camera.

Performance
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; HSDPA 850/1900/2100) Nokia E75 in San Francisco using AT&T service, and call quality was mediocre. On our end, there was a slight buzz that wasn't always evident when people were talking but definitely noticeable during lulls in the conversation, and friends reported a slight echo. That said, it wasn't anything bad enough that we had to end a call, and we were able to use an airline's voice-automated response system without problem. As for the speakerphone, there were some problems in terms of volume. Calls were hard to hear at midlevel but when turned up to full volume, the sound was blown out, so it wasn't great either way. We successfully paired the E75 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

Overall, the E75 was quite responsive in terms of general performance. We didn't experience any dramatic lags when launching or using applications, and the system was quite stable during our testing period. Despite the Flash support, we found the E75's browser to be a little clunky compared with the competition. Also, the page load speeds weren't all that impressive over AT&T's 3G. CNET's page took over a minute to fully load, while CNN's mobile site took 30 seconds.

Thanks to the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack, we were able to plug in our Bose On-Ear Headphones and enjoy our music that way. Videos took a little while to buffer and even then, the stream wasn't always smooth, with both choppy picture and audio.

The Nokia E75 includes a 1000mAh lithium ion battery with a rated battery life of 5.2 hours (GSM)/4 hours (3G) and up to 11 days of standby time. The E75 lasted 8 hours in our battery drain tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the E75 has a digital SAR rating of 0.99 watt per kilogram.

OVR
7.3

Nokia E75

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7
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