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Camera:

Although we’ve seen that Nokia tries to differentiate its series one from another, the E90 features the camera options of the multimedia-targeted N95. This makes us happy and we definitely prefer it to the striped down interface of the E65 for example.

The interface is displayed in landscape mode and the phone is intended to be held with both hands. The right one is used for pressing the shoot button. The various options are displayed in small icons arranged vertically to the right of the screen, so that there's as much space left on the display as possible for the viewfinder. Interesting options are a few scene modes including night photo, night portrait, Sports, Close-up. There's an option for more than one color scenes and white balance, but the latter still lacks manual tuning. The ISO (sensitivity) level can be controlled, but it is not showed in value (50/100/200) but as “low-high”.

The image quality is very impressive for such device! Our sample shots were very close to what we say N95 could accomplish, with the difference being the lower resolution. Overall, the colors a oversaturated making them more vivid. For comparison, the Windows Mobile top of the line model TYTN II which employs camera with the same resolution offers images with times worse quality.

Indoors as long as the light is strong the images will be usable even in full size, but when it is dark the noise is too much. The Flash may help for this, but then the colors are not reproduced correctly.



The built-in camcorder is one of the best found on cameraphone. It is the same as the one of the N95 and the N93(i) and captures in VGA (640x480 pixels) resolution and 30fps. Although the compression makes the quality lower than on any stand-alone camcorder, compared to other phone-videos, these look superb and are definitely usable for online blogging for example.

Nokia E90 sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution

Multimedia:

You can view photos from the memory in the gallery where the files are visualized as a vertical list with small thumbnails. The 3D gallery of the N-series phones is missing here, too, like in E65. The video-clips are viewed in a RealPlayer which has a fullscreen option.

We are disappointed that WMV format is not supported straight out of the box and a video we had didn’t play. Converting it into Real Video 9 (.rmvb file) also didn’t bring us success with 840x496 pixels video. We would like to fill this display resolution but it is hard without third party applications.

The music player is not the one we know from the N-series phones with Symbian 9.2 either, but is quite similar. In the Now Playing interface you can navigate the directions of the d-pad, while information on the played track is visualized below. An image, if any to the music file, is visualized on the left. You have 4 equalizers, bass boost, reverb and stereo widening.

If the internal display is used, the information is slightly rearranged and thanks to the bigger size, the Album Art Cover is much bigger.

You can sort your music by Artists/Albums/Genres/Composers, as well as by Track lists, including most played tracks, Recent tracks, Recent additions.

During music playback, we left the phone opened, sitting on a table. The volume is high and the sound is good for phone speakers but still this is not a portable stereo system. You can enjoy the music in higher quality by attaching headphones to the 2.5mm jack (or a converter to 3.5mm and then standard headphones) or via Bluetooth.


GPS:

Nokia E90 Communicator features built-in GPS navigation system, just like the N95. It uses the same software and probably hardware (Nokia doesn’t give information on it), which is the worst such solution we have tested. This negative opinion is due to the performance of the GPS chip – the first postion lock (cold restart) takes times more than on other devices (for example TyTN II with gpsOne or Eten M700 with SirfStar III) but we may live with this if it wasn’t the slow hot restart. The above-mentioned devices need 10 seconds for it while the E90 takes 30 seconds in the best case and most of the time even 1-5 minutes, based on where you are.

Once it acquires its positions, the GPS offers decent performance during our in-town tests.

Preloaded E90 Communicator comes with the free version of the Nokia’s own software for navigation. Still, it may be used with other applications. An up-to-date version of Route 66 can be used with the device: it works with the built-in GPS and visualizes correctly on the large internal display. Unfortunately it is not the case with the popular TomTom6 – even its latest version doesn’t support the built-in GPS. An upgrade that will fix this issue is expected soon, but in order to be really used with the E90, the new version should also be optimized for various screen resolutions, as at the moment when the phone is opened (the big screen is used) the applications is unusable, due to totally incorrect visualization.

The Nokia Maps software is based on smart2go and it has versions both for Symbian S60 phones and for Windows Mobile Pocket PCs. This full-features software allows both localizing and route planning and searching for Points of Interest. All maps for the 150 supported countries are free, while only turn-by-turn directions and extended Point of Interest information called City Guides are paid. The Turn by Turn navigation is purchased only once, while you can order City Guides for different cities.


If you decide to purchase the extras, you can do that directly from you phone. Using the Internet connection, you can view (after you have searched for them) maps of places, which are not saved on your phone’s memory. Actually, E90 works autonomously in offline mode, but Nokia recommends that you have an Internet connection, so that the software can download the route whenever it decides to do so.

If for example you go to Dallas, TX and you didn't pre-install Texas map, the E90 will connect via an available data connection and will download only the area where you are traveling in Dallas and not Houston, El Paso etc. This way you only download what you need, and not the full Texas map which could be larger and would take time to download.

After calculating the ‘route’ from point A to point B, the software will show you a text, telling you where and when to take a turn. You can see the Route graphically on the map for better orientation and if you have bought the Turn by Turn navigation, it will localize you and will tell you when to take a turn. There is an option for voice navigation, which, thanks to the good speakers, is easy to understand and is heard well.

Software:

Nokia E90 is one of the few Symbian phones coming without any preloaded games. As it is a smartphone, any application written for S60 over Symbian 9.2 should work on it. As the E90 is the only S60 phone with such resolution of its internal display, most application should work, but there will be some that will not. Those which use the OS interface should have no problems as it adapts to the size, but the ones that use own environment (Games or heavy apps like the ones for GPS Navigation) must be optimized. We tried to Install Fring, to work with Skype, but we got an error message that it is not compatible with the phone. Agile Messenger installed with no problem, but using in on the internal display resulted in mismatching of the soft keys – the bottom one acted instead of the top and vice verse. TomTom6 didn’t visualized correctly at all, but was OK on the external display.

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