My new baby: the Nokia E5

Nokia E5 mobile phone

Worth the wait: the Nokia E5


****UPDATE: I WROTE THIS SHORTLY AFTER I’D PURCHASED THE NOKIA E5. IT TURNED OUT TO BE A PIECE OF CRAP AND STOPPED WORKING COMPLETELY A COUPLE OF MONTHS AFTER I BOUGHT IT. I ABSOLUTELY DO *NOT* RECOMMEND THIS PHONE TO ANYONE. I HAVE NOW HAD A SAMSUNG GALAXY MINI FOR MONTHS AND IT TRULY IS A GOOD PHONE***

Late last year I decided it was time to move on from my beloved Nokia E63 – the phone I’ve written about on this site more than once – and trade up to something faster and something with a bit more “oomph.” The old E63 was beginning to slow down and the lack of HSDPA internet access was beginning to drive me nuts. Not even a complete firmware update could resurrect the springy performance I first enjoyed when I got the E63 way back in 2009.

My phone company, 3 Mobile, had promised, on their blog, that they would be releasing the Nokia E5 towards the end of 2010 and I was considering paying out the remainder of my contract and upgrading. Well, talk about “blink and you missed it”, the Nokia E5 was available for five days and then 3 stopped selling it. Bizarre. Of course there are many bizarre things happening with 3 Mobile since they were taken over by Vodaphone  - or Vodafail as it has become known in Australia.

3 Mobile is winding down and eventually – like all the other 3 customers – I’ll be pushed off and forced to go on Vodafone’s network. A prospect I am not looking forward to. Telstra’s plans are still too expensive for me to seriously consider so basically I am staying with 3 until (a) I get kicked off or (b) the service becomes so bad it is unusable. I’ve been relatively happy with 3 over the last 5 years and I’ve become used to their “My 3″ and “Email on 3″ services. But I didn’t want to be stuck with my trusty Nokia E63 forever.

The range of handsets that 3 now offers is drastically reduced as they wind down. And many of them simply show as “out of stock.” In fact, most of them are out of stock/sold out. Nothing they had really yanked my chain. I’m not a “touchscreen” kind of guy – I need a keyboard. I spent a couple of hours on Yoda’s Samsung Jet last night and it drove me nuts. More than ever, I’m convinced I’ll always be more comfortable with a keyboard.

I’m also very comfortable with Nokia’s Symbian operating system. That’s not a fashionable thing to say – every review of Nokia phones slags off the Symbian system. It’s almost a pathological hatred by the techno media. I feel the opposite – yes, maybe it could be a bit slicker but generally it does what I want and I like it. There’s also Nokia email to consider – it allows you to have up to 10 email accounts pushed to your device. Email on 3 does a similar job but they’re not adapting that for new handsets now…thanks to the awful Vodafail takeover.

I never really wanted a “smart phone” until the Nokia E63 took my fancy. And once I got used to the idea of being able to do email, web browsing and twitter on a mobile phone, I realised I was a Nokia boy. Which means my options were really quite limited. I sound like an advert for Nokia but I’m just not that excited by Android and positively loathe Apple’s iFag,…er, I mean, iPhone.

So I was really pissed off when the E5 disappeared without a trace from 3. Flash forward 5 months and, out of the blue, a web search revealed the E5 was back on 3 and being marketed as their “new phone.” This was after advising that they wouldn’t be bringing any new handsets to 3. And not only was it available on 3, I could get it as a second handset for a small monthly payment. It took me about 2 seconds to make up my mind and last Friday I popped down to the Vodafail store and signed up for a shiny new Nokia E5…on 3 (NOT Vodafail).

I spent half the weekend setting it up and playing with it. Yoda’s comment was “why don’t you just kiss it!” My verdict? I love it!

It’s sleek and sexy with a very comfortable keyboard and much faster than the E63. Surfing the web, downloading applications, jumping through the menus – all much faster. The interface improvements (this is a later version of Symbian S60) are really useful. The screen is fine – I was worried because it is nowhere near the E63 in terms of screen quality – but I’ve barely noticed the difference in day-to-day use.

Loved the ability to bluetooth over my contacts, sms’s and calendar bits and pieces from the E63. It went very smoothly. Terrific not having to load all that guff into the phone. I’ve downloaded a few things from the Ovi Store like the Opera Mini browser, Snaptu for twitter etc. All went very smoothly and installed without a problem. The phone comes pre-loaded with Nokia maps but I’ve not had the need to use it yet.

Battery life is not as good as the E63 – both because it has a lesser capacity battery I believe and, for me, because I think Nokia Email is chewing up the juice with all that push email. Unfortunately – and frustratingly – 3 are not going to make the E5 compatible with Email on 3. I found Email on 3 a really good application/service with the E63 and it didn’t seem to eat up the battery power. Still, this isn’t a big consideration – it isn’t as if the Nokia E5 is like an iPhone or HTC Desire where you have to recharge every day.

And finally, of course, the E5 makes and receives telephone calls! Amazing! But yeah, the phone side of things is rock solid – as you’d expect from Nokia. It has the torch feature too – I can’t believe how much I came to rely on that bloody torch thing with the E63! Hold down the space bar and voila! – your phone becomes a pretty good torch.

Oops, one negative I almost forgot about….the camera is shit. Absolutely bollocks. 5 megapixels which sounds impressive but, in reality, it’s not. Quality of the pics actually seems a little worse than the 2 megapixel E63. Not a deal breaker for me as I use a “real” camera and just use the mobile for odd shots here and there. But if you need a fab camera as part of your mobile phone experience, you won’t be happy with the E5.

So here I am with a brand new E5- after 5 months frustrating wait – and all is well. If money was no object, I might have gone with the swish new E7 – but with a retail price close to $1000, that was never going to happen!

Nokia E5 box contents

Inside the Nokia E5's blue box

The Nokia E5 is a great phone – and if you don’t believe me, listen to this guy – I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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