Nokia E55 Review

4
Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile USA. The American version supports AT&T's 3G network.

Introduction:


Nokia announced two new business oriented cell phones at the same time at MWC 2009 – the Nokia E75 and E55. We have already reviewed the former and are pleased with it. Now, it´s time we take a closer look at the second and see what it delivers. Today we introduce the Nokia E55 to you. It´s the manufacturer´s first attempt at a “compact QWERTY keyboard” that consists of 20 buttons. The handset sports the overall design style that we already know from the E66 and E71 and frankly, the Nokia E55 looks almost identical (aside from the keyboard) to the successor to the E51 – the E52 and has the same design, software and functionality. The phone also supports 3G and comes equipped with Wi-Fi, GPS and two cameras - a 3.2-megapixel main camera and an additional one for video calls. In a nutshell, it´s got what it takes to be a good business oriented device. The interface is not any different from the one on the E75 in almost anything, except for several nice novelties. We will certainly tell you what these are, but let´s first take a look at what is in the box.

•    Nokia E55 and a 2GB microSD card
•    microUSB charger
•    microUSB adapter to allow use of previous Nokia chargers
•    Stereo headset
•    microUSB cable
•    Manual
•    Ad leaflets

Design:

The Nokia E55 looks great on the outside. The manufacturer has used high quality materials and the handset looks elegant and austere, something typical for all latest phones of Nokia´s business lineup. Feeling cheap is light years away from the E55.. The overall size and weight are perfectly balanced and the phone is extremely comfortable to operate and carry around.




You can compare the Nokia E55 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The device packs a 2.4-inch TFT display that supports 16mln colors and comes with a native resolution of 240x320 pixels. We are really pleased with its performance in direct sunlight, because it remains entirely usable and similarly to other Nokia models, it´s just colors that get worn-off. The light-sensitivity sensor, loudspeaker and video call camera are located above the screen.

The navigational key alignment on the Nokia E55 is slightly different from what you can see on the E75 and the typical Eseries buttons that allow fast access to the organizer functions have a larger travel than the rest. We don’t mind this at all, because they don’t get in the way when pressing the send and end keys (virtually the most used buttons on any cell phone), which feels easy and handy. The 5-directional D-Pad sports a cool, rugged edge that creates really pleasant feeling and we don’t have any gripes concerning it either.

The most interesting element on the front side of the Nokia E55 and probably of the phone as a whole is its compact QWERTY keyboard. This is the first time Nokia has equipped a device with such a keyboard. Similarly to the SureType keyboards of certain RIM devices, it consists of 20 buttons, aligned in four rows. All of them are large enough, have nice travel and feel clearly discernible when pressed. We didn’t encounter any issues typing away with one handed entry, except when trying to reach the innermost buttons. Entering text using both hands feels passable, but we believe there´s room for improvement. People with thicker fingers might have certain troubles typing using both hands, because there isn’t enough space in between buttons, due to the compact overall size of the handset. We decided to try the standard numeric keypad of the Nokia E52 and compare the relative speed of entry. We found out the difference isn’t that big, but still typing with the E55’s compact QWERTY is faster. Ultimately, the first attempt of Nokia at a 20-button keyboard feels decent and proper to use so we rate it 8/10.

The microUSB port is on the left hand side. It´s open and there is no flap to prevent dirt and dust from getting in. The power on/off button that is also used for switching between phone profiles is on the top side, next to what we were more impressed to see – a 3.5mm headphone jack. The right hand side of the device hosts the volume rocker, voice control and camera shutter buttons. We don’t have any gripes concerning any of them.



Nokia E55 360 Degrees View:



Interface:

The Nokia E55 is a smartphone that relies on the Symbian S60 3rd Edition  Feature Pack 2 OS, developed for cell phones without touch sensitive screens. All told, its functionality is pretty similar to the version found on the E66 and E71, both of which utilize Feature Pack 1 with certain functions from Feature Pack 2 integrated by the manufacturer. The home screen can either look fairly simple or show the Home screen application. We prefer the second option, since it allows easy access to the most used functions and important information such as upcoming events, unread emails etc. The new thing here is the “talking theme” aimed at people with poor or failing eyesight. Four shortcuts that cannot be altered pop up on starting it up. They lead to the phone dialing, clock, voice command and text-to-voice message reader functions with a robotized, female voice pronouncing the name of the shortcut that´s been chosen. As a whole, this is a really neat idea and it´s just too bad the voice doesn’t work with either the main menu or the submenus. We hope Nokia keeps up the good work and improve on its implementation.



The pretty nice function to switch between Business and Personal profile that is found on the home screen of both the E66 and E71 is also present here and each profile can be assigned separate ringtones, running applications, theme and wallpaper.

You can store as many contacts as you need with the only limitation being the available free memory and each of them can be assigned unlimited numbers, email addresses, date of birth, a photo, extra information etc. Searches are performed by both given and family names or company (if previously entered).



The Calendar doesn´t take up the entire screen when showing all days in any given month. There is also some free space below the block of dates that shows the upcoming events. The other calendar views look a bit differently. If you pick out “date”, a vertical list of events pops up on screen with timeslots clearly visible. You also have the well known “to-do” view and agenda mode. If you select it, ou will be able to see all events scheduled on that particular day, vertically sorted by starting hour.



The app that allows opening and editing Office documents and PowerPoint presentations is Quickoffice. Until recently, you had to purchase an additional license to get Office 2007 support, but the limitation has been removed for Word and Excel files via a software update for the E-Series devices - E51, E52, E55, E63, E71, E72, E75 and E90. ZIP file support has also been added and free PowerPoint 2007 compatibility is around the corner. We didn’t encounter any troubles with Word and Excel 2009 files and they can be opened and edited without a hitch. Unfortunately, we still don’t know when the Eseries gets PowerPoint 2007 support, but we need to point out something really interesting here. Nokia and Microsoft have announced that they are going to introduce Microsoft Office on Nokia smartphones next year, so the way we see it, the days of Quickoffice running on Nokia smartphones are numbered.




The Messaging menu stores all your text, multimedia and electronic messages. All settings are filled in automatically if you happen to use a leading service provider, such as Gmail or Yahoo. Things get even better, because the E55 comes preloaded with Nokia Messaging that is by far, at least in our opinion, quite comfier to use than the standard Symbian S60 client. As we mentioned in our review of the Nokia E75, we do like several functions like the fast switching between (as of now, up to 10) email accounts directly from the app, the option to sort by sender, title, priority, unread content, attached files and their size. They make using more than one email account and piles of emails way faster and more comfortable to handle. You also have nicely implemented searches and not last, you can read HTML emails with enclosed pictures being just a click away.



You connect to the Internet over 3G or via the built-in Wi-Fi. Either way, you will get to the standard browser that comes with the operating system and offers text formating, overview mode and partial Flash support. The latter can be illustrated with an example – YouTube player loads and starts without a hitch, but this is not the case with the web players on Viddler.com, Vimeo.com etc. Still, the browser would do the trick, although as whole, it´s not as good as the best ones found on touch sensitive screen cell phones.




The Word Traveler App is a novelty that is certainly welcome and will make many business users happier. It allows you to see a 5-day weather forecast for any town, what time it is in up to 5 different places around the Globe and the current exchange rates of 4 currencies of your own choice. The app also sports a function that is supposed to show available flights, but we couldn’t get it to work at the time of this review. There is one more nice function here – an animated Globe that shows thumb-tacked pictures of two countries – the one you are currently in plus another one of your choice. This allows you to see its geographical location, local time, the name of its capital and the time zone it is in. So, if you need to travel, you will be able to set up your clock accordingly. This will automatically adjust your calendar events, so you can easily rearrange your schedule.



GPS:

The Nokia E55 sports a built-in GPS that is pretty fast and managed to pinpoint our location in 30 seconds after hardware restart and almost instantaneously after a software one. Out handset comes with voice navigation license that is life-long (for the Nokia E55) when walking and free for 125 days when driving. This, however, depends entirely on the region you are in, so you better enquire about it at your local retailer. Ovi Maps comes preloaded (that´s the new name of Nokia Maps) and features pretty much the same interface as ever, with the only novelty being the so-called Dashboard. It provides information about your speed, altitude, how long it´s going to take to go 1 km at your current speed and coordinates. There is a digital compass that is quite comfy to use when navigating, because it rotates the map and orients it in your movement direction.





Camera:

The phone features a 3.2-megapixel camera with an LED flash. We took quite a few snapshots of whatever came our way, not expecting wonders. Ultimately, we found out quality of pictures taken in daylight was what we expected. Colors are thin in some, unrealistic in others, but at least the overall quality is above average. Image noise gets worse in stills taken in artificial light and the LED flash is not powerful enough, but we´ve seen worse. Despite the lack of macro mode, we tried taking several macro pictures and we have to say they turned out to be quite a disappointment. This is just too bad, since sooner or later any business user needs to take a picture of printed text and the Nokia E55 is pretty useless at that. The phone captures videos at maximum resolution of 640x480 pixels and 15 frames per second with quality that´s nothing to write home about.





Nokia E55 sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution

Multimedia:

There isn´t much to talk about the multimedia capabilities of the Nokia E55. The handset sports a music player and FM radio with RDS and both apps come dressed in the standard Symbian S60 3rd edition with Feature Pack 2 attire. They offer enough options and as a whole, are pretty handy to use. The boxed earphones aren´t bad and deliver sound quality that deserves applause. It´s a good thing that the phone is equipped with a 3.5mm jack, so plugging in another pair is possible. You can watch videos with a resolution of 640x480 pixels at good image quality, provided they have been converted to MPEG-4 files with bitrate not exceeding 700 kbps. Coding videos at resolutions higher than the native one of the screen is pointless, since you won´t notice any difference anyway.





Performance:

The Nokia E55 is a decent performer in terms of overall speed, although we´ve seen snappier Symbian S60 handsets, including the aging 6120 classic. As a whole, we do not have any major gripes, because we didn’t encounter annoying menu or application start-up lagging and the accelerometer switches screen orientation really fast. In-call quality is decent and our major complaint concerns the earpiece of the E55. Voices of people sound too loud, yet muffled and fuzzy and sometimes they get illegible - the only way to fix this is to turn down the volume. Things seem to be much better on the other end and people said they we able to catch onto what we were saying without any problem, but claimed we sounded a bit monotonous. The loudspeaker left us with good impressions. It delivers good quality both ways, but we would have liked it better if it packed more punch.

The Nokia E55 is praised for its extremely robust battery and this is the case indeed. We had to charge the phone at the end of the third day, after heavy use and serious Wi-Fi abuse on daily basis, which is a commendable result. You can count on your phone being alive and kicking even on really busy days. Well done, Nokia!

Conclusion:

The testing stage of the review was followed by a meeting behind closed doors where we unanimously arrived at the conclusion the Nokia E55 was worth the money, despite the mediocre in-call quality. Why? It sports an almost perfect screen that remains usable in direct sunlight, good keyboard, wonderful browser, extremely capable email client and the necessary organizer functions to meet the needs of highly demanding customers. To top it off, the handset looks great, is thin, light-weighted and powered by a really robust battery.

Other handsets that make for viable alternatives to the Nokia E55 are:

The Nokia E52 – practically the same handset, but equipped with a standard numeric keypad
The Nokia E75 – heavier, with full QWERTY keyboard
The Nokia E71 – larger size, with full QWERTY keyboard.

 Software version of the reviewed unit - 021.010.

Nokia E55 and Nokia E52 Video Review:



Pros

  • Extremely light-weighted
  • Almost perfect display that remains totally usable in direct sunlight
  • Really robust battery
  • Delivers good audio quality

Cons

  • No macro mode

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

User Rating:

8.8
2 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless