MWC 2009: Live Report

Nokia E55

According to Nokia, the new E55 just announced today will be their thinnest smartphone, or even the thinnest smartphone in the World. It sports the standard candy-bar design, but instead of the full QWERTY found in all E-series phones, this one combines two letter per key, making it as Nokia calls it a “compact QWERTY”. This of course saves space, making the device lighter and smaller. The short testing we did with it left us overall happy but still will require some time to get used to it. Still, looks like very good compromise if you want to keep the size down.  The rest of the keys on the front are flush, but still easy to press. Interesting were the embossed edges of the d-pad, which make it very easy to distinguish without having to look at it.

The E55 will utilize noise-cancellation technology, which should improve the voice quality. We couldn’t test this at the show, but will definitely rigorously examine this when we get our review unit. The new technology utilized dual microphone design and special algorithms to surprises ambient noises. During the CES expo, Motorola demoed their Crystal Talk noise-cancellation technology and it really impressed us. Hopefully Nokia’s solution comes close or better to that.

The E55 and E75 will be the first devices to have updated messaging application. Most notably, it now supports HTML viewing of email.  By default, messages are opened in text mode, but you have a link at the top of each message to view it in HTML with formatting and images. Those of us (nowadays most of us) who have several different email accounts, will definitely appreciate the tweak Nokia did to move the switching of the different email boxes directly into the reading panel. So instead of selecting your personal email, reading the messaging, going into the main messaging menu, selecting the next email, you can directly switch between the different accounts.

If you are well organized (not like us), you probably have several different folders in your e-mail mailbox, such as important, to do later, not to answer ever etc. Accessing the stored messages in those folders was not possible up until now. This is one of the other important updates of the new messaging client.

A new feature is the sliding subject field when a message is highlighted. It is nothing major, but should help when you have emails with long subjects.

Sorting emails is nothing that most people do every day, but now and then it always comes handy. The new e-mail client just a few more sorting options – flag, priority, unread, attachment and size.

Nokia E75

Nokia E75 is the other new member of the E-family. Even though the device does not bear the Communicator name, it is considered to be part of that line. Nokia claims this is the best messaging device they have ever done. This is not only because of the particular hardware configuration, but because of the added services such as the first device to ship with Nokia Messaging (for those of you not familiar with this, please check out our Nokia World coverage).

Because of the full side-sliding keyboard, allowing it to be a lot narrower compared to the rest of the E-series, it really looks a lot like the E55. For the same reason, it is a lot ticker as well.

The front keypad seems just OK – there is no separation between the different keys on each row. Once used to it, this probably will not be a problem. The d-pad is very comfortable and easy to use.

Sliding the bottom part reveals the full keyboard. The keys are very large, with little space between them. They offered slightly less tactile feedback than what we’ve used to have.

Just looking at the E75’s display, you can guess correctly that it is high-end device. The colors are very vivid with great contrast.
We always want to give you our final judgment after we use a device for a while, but the E75 is definitely something that attracted out attention. If you want S60 based phone with full keyboard and not huge dimensions, the E75 will probably be one of the best choices.

Nokia 6710 Navigator

Nokia 6710 is the 3rd device from the Navigator line. As the name implies, the main aim is navigation. The first Navigator was introduced back in 2007, and a new one announced at the MWC. As all other members of the same family, the new 6710 keep the slider design, but the keypad part creates a slight arc. The actual keys design is pretty much the same.

Other than this, it is pretty much very similar to the 6210 Navigator. Of course, each year the specifications are upgraded and now the screen is 2.6” from the 2.4” on the 6210. As Navigation is what is it made for, battery life is really important if it is going to be used in pedestrian mode (or you don’t want to plug it into the charger every time you use it in your car). That’s why the battery life has been generously upgraded to 19 days of stand-by and around 7.5 hours of talk time (almost doubling the 6210 times). The camera resolution has also gone up and it is now 5 mega-pixels with autofocus.

The new 6710 will come preloaded with the new 3.0 version of Nokia Maps. The software is currently in Beta testing and was originally announced during the Nokia World event, which we covered several months ago

Depending on the region you live in, if you purchase the 6710 it will come preloaded with different maps set. For example, if you get it in Spain, you might end up having also France and Italy. Purchasing it in the US, might result in having Canada and Mexico for example. Nokia has not worked up the details on that yet. The main point it that by purchasing it, you will get all the premium feature of Nokia maps, plus car charger and holder.

Nokia 6720 classic

The 6720 classic is pretty much mid-range device in candy-bar design. It has nothing to brag about, as it is nether part of the multimedia, nor the E or any other series. Still it packs very decent feature set including 5-megapixel camera, a 3.5mm jack and aGPS. When it launches in Q2, it will come preloaded with Nokia Maps 3.0 software, but without the extra features enabled as on the 6710 Navigator.

Its build-quality is seems solid. The keypad performed decently with the last row of keys being slightly harder to press. The display offered about average quality. Given the 245 Euro price tag before subsidies, the device is really something to consider in the mid-range segment.

Nokia N86 8MP

The N95 was one of Nokia’s revolutionary products – it was not only one of the first all-in-one smart phones, but also one of the first truly powerful camera phones, with a 5-megapixel resolution and VGA video recording. At that time, the rest of the manufacturers offered only 3-megapixel phones – Nokia was definitely with the first place in the megapixel race.

However, we are already in the 2009 and 8-megapixel phones have been available for more than a half year. We’ve compared the models from Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson and … that’s all. Nokia didn’t have an 8-megapixel camera phone until now. Meet the N86 8MP - as its name says, it is the first Nokia to capture 8MP photos.

Do you remember Nokia’s first S60 touch phone, the 5800 Xpress Music? It was rather strange that their first entry into the touch segment was not a high-end model but a mid-tier device, but it seems that this is Nokia’s strategy now. The same happens today, with the N86 8MP – as it is not part of the 9x family, it we could expect a higher-end 8MP(or maybe 12MP?) camera phone from Nokia soon. However, let’s check the N86 out:

A single look is enough to say that this is a Nokia phone – its design is absolutely typical for the manufacturer. Think of it as a cross between the N85 and the N97. It is a dual-slider with decently sized numeric keypad with the slide up and multimedia keys when slide open down. Kudos to Nokia for the new design of the multimedia shortcuts: they are big enough, slightly protruding and give feedback when pressed, so overall they are much better when compared to previous models. The 2.6” OLED display looks similar to what we’ve seen in the N85 and we hope it will be better when it comes to reading it outdoors in bright light.

The camera is of course on the back, with a little cover over it. Although the small size, it was very easy to open and close even with the prototypes here at the show. The cover has a label mentioning these are Carl Zeiss lens (as of any other high-class Nokia) with 2.4-4.8/4.6 aperture – this shows that the N86 is the first phone with variable aperture. This should allow it to keep the aperture opened for low-light photos but close it when there is plenty of light, resulting in a larger depth of the focus, thus “sharper” photos. Above is the dual-led flash, which we may say will be mediocre as it is not Xenon. However, Nokia claims that it is of “3rd generation” and will illuminate the objects at up to 3.5 meters – we’ll definitely test it when we review it! Below the lens is the “kick stand”, as in the N96. It is a nice feature for putting the phone on a flat surface with the display facing you for watching a movie for example, but it is not easy to pull out. We hope this will be fixed with the final units.

The N86 8MP is running on the same OS as the N85 and the N96, the Symbian 9.3 S60 Feature Pack 3. However, its interface is slightly personalized with newer transitions and icons reminding of the ones in the Symbian 9.5 touch phones. Overall, we like what we see.

*Note that the prototype on the pictures is labeled as N85 8MP, but the final model will be N86 8MP.

Nokia 5630 XpressMusic

The 5630 is the latest entry into the XpressMusic series. It is a half inch thick and pretty light candybar phone running on Symbian S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2. In order to keep its price low, Nokia has made compromise with the display – it is 2.2” QVGA unit, but we are disappointed by its image quality. It will do the job but won’t excite you with its quality. We are fine with the mid-sized keys below and like the music shortcuts on the left, as they are protruding enough to be easily felt and pressed. The microSD slot and the 3.5mm jack are located on the top, so it is more convenient to listen to music with the phone in a pocket. The 5630 takes 5800’s Contacts Bar feature and brings it to the next level; the touch phone allowed for up to 4 favorite contacts to be added to the home screen and the new XpressMusic handset offers up to 20. The Nokia 5630 XpressMusic is expected to appear on the market during the second quarter of the year for about 199 Euro ($260) before taxes and subsidies.

Nokia 6700 classic


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