Handsets from Nokia’s Eseries portfolio are business-oriented devices with a focus on functionality and design. The Nokia E65 handset is from the second wave of Eseries devices, announced in January at 3GSM World Congress 2007. The Nokia E65 has been available for some time on other regions, but has only just become available on the Australian market. The two other Eseries handsets, the E90 and E61i, are due out later this year.
The E65 is not the most fully featured business-oriented handset, but it caters for a large group of consumers that require the most popular productivity features without all the extras. The E65 has a huge rage of pre-installed applications, and the Java application environment makes it easy to install additional applications.
With support for four GSM networks and one 3G network, the E65 is fully prepared for world travel. It’s has support for the major messaging formats, including push e-mail via Exchange servers or with the increasingly popular Blackberry protocol.
Now – let’s get into the juicy details!
There are several stand out features on the E65. The first of which has got to be the first point of call when using the handset – the display! The LCD is a 240 x 320 pixel TFT panel with support for up to 16.7 million colours. That’s the same colour depth as your PC or laptop monitor, which is also known as ‘true colour’. The Symbian operating system themes really put the display to work, and the quality really is just amazing!
As I mentioned in the introduction, the E65 has a range of pre-installed productivity applications. The “Office” folder in the main menu contains most of these, but a select few are in the “Installations” folder, or have their own folder in the main menu. Pre-installed applications include the QuickOffice suite for document viewing and editing, a PDF viewer, ZIP archive manager (compression and decompression supported), a converter, Bluetooth printing manager, world clock, note taker, calculator, and file system manager.
The Symbian 9.1 operating system installed on the E65 has been coupled with Nokia’s Series 60 3rd edition platform. There’s also Java environment for add-on applications and games. The Symbian operating system is a tried and tested smartphone OS, and is incredibly powerful. It supports the latest technologies and, in my opinion, is one of the easiest to use and most functional smartphone operating systems out there. Unfortunately the E65 was a little laggy at times, but I’ll go into more detail about that in the appropriate section(s).
Support for the four major GSM network bands is built into the E65. 2G GSM 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz networks are supported, all with the GPRS and EDGE protocols for data connectivity. The 2100MHz WCDMA network is supported for high speed 3G connectivity up to 384kbp/s.
WLAN connectivity is another highlight feature of the E65. The handset is fully compatible with the IEEE 802.11b/g standards, and supports several WLAN security specifications. All applications that use a network connection can be forced to use an active WLAN connection in lieu of GPRS, EDGE, or WCDMA connections.
Weighing just 115 grams, the sliding form factor E65 is quite a light handset. It measures 105 x 49 x 15.5mm, so it’s definitely not on the large side physically, either. The E65 is an upgraded version of the Nokia 6288. Although they weigh the same, the 6288 is much thicker – coming in at a 21mm!
The E65 comes in three colours: black, red, or brown – my test unit was brown. The front of the handset is chrome plated, and all the buttons are silver with a white backlight. The bottom section of the slider, where the numerical keys are, is metal – except for the keys. The keys are a soft rounded plastic that is very comfortable to use.
As with most sliders, the front of the E65 is kept pretty simple. There’s the 16.7 million colour display, light sensitive diode, and a button pad below the display. The button pad has two soft keys, four ‘business’ keys, a pick-up and hang-up button, the dedicated menu key and the backspace/’c’ key. On the right hand side of the handset are four additional keys: volume up and down, input method key, and the voice recorder button. There is no dedicated camera button.
The 2mpx camera is located on the back of the handset, above the removable battery cover. The SIM card slides into the E65 under the battery back. The microSD memory card slot is underneath the battery cover, but is accessible without removing the battery.
The top slides along on two metal rails, which give it a very smooth feeling. The handset clicks into place when opened and closed, and there is a hefty amount of force pushing the top section down when it’s shut – so it’s not going to slide open while in your pocket.
User interface & display
The Nokia E65 runs the Symbian version 9.1 operating system with the Nokia Series 60 3rd edition platform, all powered by a 220MHz ARM 9 processor. The display is a 16.7 million colour TFT LCD panel, with a 240 x 320 pixel resolution.
Nokia’s Active Standby is a great feature that allows you to fully customize the idle display of the handset. By default the Active Standby screen displays six shortcut icons, upcoming calendar appointments, and WLAN scanning status. The six shortcut icons can be changed to any feature of the handset, and different “plug-ins” can be added or removed as required. Active Standby also handles the left and right soft key shortcuts, which by default are link to the camera application and new text message window, respectively.
One feature that is missing from the E65’s Active Standby that I really like is the ‘Notes’ plug-in. It allows you to quickly store a short message (or messages) on the display for easy reference. Also, you cannot add or remove any of the six application shortcuts – six must be displayed at all times. Active Standby can be turned off fully if you don’t need its functionality.
At the top of the idle display are the E65’s status indicators. These include the time (digital or analogue), date, service provider, reception and battery levels, and a row of icons indicating things like Bluetooth status, WLAN connectivity, outgoing messages, new messages, keypad lock, and so on.
The E65’s main menu can be viewed in a grid or list format. Each of the icons can be arranged according to user preference, and new folders can be created and other icons moved from other areas of the menu into the new folder. All of the applications are sorted into five folders: media, office, tools, installations and connectivity. The installations folder contains any Java/Symbian applications installed on the E65.
Themes are supported by the E65’s user interface, but only two are pre-installed. ‘Dots’ is a theme with a grey colour palette that I found much more exciting than the standard ‘Nokia’ theme. There are thousands of themes available online, or you can use the “Theme Downloads” link to purchase a theme from Nokia’s WAP site.
The operating system can be quite slow at times, which is a bit of a disappointment. I noticed the most lag while opening new messages, and when jumping through the menu system quickly. While typing messages or browsing large WAP pages there is little to no lag, which I’m happy to report. The camera application was a little laggy, but nothing major.
To finish on a good note, the E65’s 16.7 million colour display is amazing. I know I say this in every review with a 16.7 million colour display, but I really can’t compliment these panels enough! Nokia deserve kudos for including these TFT LCD displays in more and more of their handsets, especially those which are not the highest end models. The E65 has manual brightness and contrast settings accessible from the Settings menu.
Making and receiving calls
You will be able to make calls practically anywhere using the Nokia E65, thanks to its support for GSM 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz and WCDMA 2100MHz networks. Plain old voice calls are supported, as well as video calls with the 3G data protocols. Unfortunately, there is no forward-facing digital camera for video calls. The E65 even supports Push-To-Talk, and Internet telephony as a fall back for cellular telephony.
The sliding form factor of the E65 means that you can make and receive calls with the slider open or closed. The pick-up and hang-up buttons are located on the front of the device, so the slider does not need to be opened to pick up an incoming call. However, if the slider is opened and you close it during a call, the call will be ended. Sliding the handset up when there is an incoming call will answer the call.
A handy feature on the E65 is the ability to reject a call with an SMS message. This means that if you hit the hang-up button on an incoming call, an SMS will automatically be sent to that number with a pre-defined message of your choice. The default message is “Sorry, I’ll call you later”. All these settings and other call-related features can be changed in the settings menu.
The E65 has four dedicated business voice keys around the 5-way navigational pad. The first key (top left) is the conference call key, and the top right key is the contact book key. The bottom right key is the mute key, and the bottom left is the “own key”, which can be assigned to almost any function on the handset.
Pressing the conference key button from the main menu will open the contacts menu, where you can select the phone numbers to dial for the conference call. Conference calling is network dependant, but as far as I know all Australian networks support the service.
To make a video call, browse to the contact in the contact book or enter a number using the numerical keypad, then select “Options > Call > Video call”. To answer a video call, push the green pick-up button or slide the slider upwards. If you would not like to send streaming video to your caller, you can pre-define a static image through the settings menu which will be sent instead. This cannot be changed in-call, though. The audio can easily be muted by pressing the dedicated mute button. By default, audio is emitted by the loudspeaker unless a stereo headset is connected. Nokia have included a stereo headset in the sales package of the E65.
Push-To-Talk and Internet telephony settings are found under the “Connectivity” folder in the main menu. Internet telephony uses an active WLAN connection to make calls over the internet to practically any phone number around the world, including other VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) numbers. To use the Internet telephony features of the E65, you must have an account with a VoIP provider.
The volume of the E65’s earpiece is great, and the side volume keys make it easy to change volume while in-call. Volume through the included Pop-Port stereo headset was great, and callers could hear me perfectly. The navigational pad can also be used to change call volume when in a call. The loudspeaker volume does leave a little to be desired, and may not be sufficient when in busy areas.
I’ve given the E65 five stars for its messaging support – there’s SMS, MMS, instant messaging, and BlackBerry and Exchange push e-mail support. T9 predictive text is included so messages can be tapped out in record time, and with the high speed 3G and WLAN connectivity, large e-mails are downloaded in seconds.
The first thing I noticed when messaging with the E65 is that when new messages are received, a separate dialogue box that says something along the lines of “1 new text message” is not displayed. Instead, the messaging section of the Active Standby screen changes to indicate new messages. By pressing the down button on the navigational bad you can select the messaging bar to open up the inbox.
When there are no new messages, the message section of the Active Standby screen disappears. However, if you enable the Active Standby messaging plug-in and select a mailbox, the screen will display the sender and the start of the two most recent messages.
Messaging on the E65 is organised into folders, all of which are shared with SMS and MMS messages. The folders are: Inbox, My Folders, Drafts, Sent, and Outbox. Templates are located in the My Folders folder. All e-mail messages are stored in the separate “Mailbox” section of the messaging application. When you first launch the application a wizard will help you set up your mailboxes. A tab is added to the messaging application for each e-mail account that is defined.
Upon selecting “New Message”, the E65 will ask for a selection of text message, multimedia message, e-mail, or Mail for Exchange message. The message composition for SMS and MMS messages is much the same, with small boxes for the recipients, and a larger box for the message body. An SMS can at any time be transformed into an MMS message by selecting “Options” and adding an image, video, sound clip, or other object.
BlackBerry support on the E65 must be installed by the user through the “Installations” folder from the main menu. The application, BlackBerry Connect for S60 3.0, takes a minute or two to install, and it will integrate itself into the Messaging application, as well as adding its own icon to the main menu for configuration changes.
Mail for Exchange 1.3 is also installed through the “Installations” folder. Compatible Microsoft Exchange e-mail servers can be used with the E65 for fast delivery of e-mail messages. A user guide for Mail for Exchange and BlackBerry Connect is included in the E65’s sales package.
BlackBerry Connect for S60 3.0 and Mail for Exchange 1.3 can make use of a GPRS or EDGE connection when on 2G networks, a WCDMA connection when on the 2100Mhz 3G network, or a WLAN 802.11b/g connection.
All connectivity settings on the E65 are managed through the “Connectivity” folder in the main menu. The E65 offers Bluetooth, infrared, USB, and WLAN local connectivity, and supports four GSM bands and one 3G WCDMA network band.
Inside the E65 sale’s package is a USB Pop-Port data-cable and PC Suite software CD. The Nokia PC Suite is compatible with Bluetooth, infrared, and USB connections to all Nokia phones, and offers synchronization, data transfer, message composition, and a huge range of other functions. The software is easy to install and even easier to use.
When you connect the E65 to a computer using the data-cable, the handset asks you to select between PC Suite mode or Data Transfer mode. Just as the name suggests, the PC Suite mode should be selected when you would like to use the PC Suite software to transfer data to and from the handset. The other option, Data Transfer mode, enables the USB Mass Storage Device profile on the handset. In this mode, only the memory card can be accessed – but it is the easiest way to transfer files to and from the handset as no additional drivers need to be installed.
The Bluetooth radio on the E65 is version 1.2 compliant. By opening the Bluetooth icon in the “Connectivity” folder, one can turn the radio on or off, scan for new devices or remove paired devices, change the E65’s Bluetooth name, and visibility settings. The E65 supports the Remote SIM Bluetooth profile, among a host of others. I tested the E65 with my MacBook, Windows PC, and a Nokia 6288 and had no problems.
There is a tiny infrared window at the bottom of the handset, just above the charging connector. Selecting the Infrared icon in the “Connectivity” folder will enable the sensor for 1 minute. If no connections are made in that time, the infrared sensor will be turned off.
Being able to connect to a WLAN network on your mobile phone is a very handy feature. If you use e-mail on the E65, you can configure the handset to automatically connect to a WLAN network in range and download the e-mails using that connection, rather than a packet data connection. This is (usually) much faster, and not to mention cheaper! The E65’s web browser can also use a WLAN connection to browse the internet.
The handset supports the IEEE 802.11b+g standards, and has support for WPA2-Enterprise, WPA2-Personal, WPA-Enterprise, and WPA-Personal security protocols. WLAN Quality of Service (QoS) WMM and U-APSD are also supported. Although the technical specifications of the E65 don’t state that it supports WEP, I could connect to my home network which is WEP64 protected.
When a WLAN network isn’t available and a packet data connection is needed, the E65 will select between GPRS, EGDE, or WCDMA data protocols. GPRS and EDGE are used in 2G networks (where supported), and WCDMA data is used when connected to a 3G 2100MHz network.
The Nokia E65 supports video and audio playback using the RealMedia player and a dedicated Music Player application. The handset also includes a Flash player for Flash games and movies, and has an advanced gallery/file browser application. All multimedia related applications are found in the “Media” folder of the main menu.
The RealPlayer application handles streaming and locally stored video playback. It only supports 3GPP and RealMedia format video files, but can playback video full screen. RealPlayer can even use the WLAN connectivity of the E65 for streaming video. It has support for a proxy server, too. If WLAN connectivity is not available the handset will use a GPRS/EDGE or WCDMA connection.
The Music Player supports MP3 and AAC audio files. Every time the application is opened it will scan the external and internal memory for compatible files, and add them to the library. The music library can be browsed by artist name, album name track list, genre, or composer. Extra functions include a shuffle mode, loop mode, and 5 different equaliser settings. The Music Player can operate in the background, allowing you to perform other functions with the handset while the music plays. When this happens a bar is added to the Active Standby screen which shows the currently playing song and time elapsed. Selecting this will open the Music Player.
Using the USB Mass Storage Device profile with a compatible computer and the included USB data-cable is the easiest way to transfer files to and from the E65’s external memory card. It is fast, requires no extra driver installations, and is as easy as dragging and dropping!
The gallery application lets you browse the E65’s internal and external memory for images, video clips, tracks, sound clips, streaming links, presentations. You can also view all files if required. Items can be sorted by date, title, size, or format, and video and images will display a small thumbnail next to the item. Full screen viewing of images is supported, but unfortunately there is no slide show feature built into the handset.
Being a business-oriented handset, Nokia have put a big focus on PIM and productivity applications for the E65. The “Office” folder from the main menu has 14 different PIM/productivity applications, and inside the “Installations” folder are additional programs that the user must install – including Blackberry and Exchange push e-mail support.
The E65’s calendar is the usual Symbian/Series 60 variant, which does its job quite nicely. The Active Standby screen by default has a bar for daily appointments, and if there is none on the current day it will show upcoming appointments. The calendar itself can store meetings, memos, anniversaries, and to-dos. It has month, week, day, and to-do view modes.
Contacts stored on the E65’s internal memory can include multiple fields, including additional phone numbers, addresses, photos, e-mail address, and a whole lot more. The handset even has a dedicated contacts button around the navigational key for easy access – and with the pick-up/hang-up buttons, you don’t even have to slide up the handset to make a call to someone in your contact book.
The E65 can be synchronized with a computer via USB, Bluetooth, or infrared using the included PC Suite software for Windows. The handset also supports synchronization via the SyncML protocol and a compatible server. Items that can be synchronized include contacts, calendars, notes, text messages, and bookmarks. Applications compatible with the latest version of PC Suite are Microsoft Outlook 2000/2002/2003/2007, Microsoft Outlook Express (Windows Address Book), Lotus Notes 5.x/6.x/7.0, and Lotus Organizer 5.x/6.x.
If you use a Macintosh, the pre-installed iSync application can be used to sync with a compatible Nokia handset. The E65 is fully supported by iSync in OS X 10.4.9 via Bluetooth or USB with the plug-in available here: http://www.nokia.com/A4299040. I synchronized my iCal with the E65 with no problems whatsoever.
Although the E65 supports Blackberry and Exchange push e-mail, these applications are not pre-installed on the handset. Browsing to the “Installations” folder and selecting “App. Manager” and the application you want to install will start the process. The Blackberry messaging support gets its own main menu folder, while the Exchange application (“Mail for Exchange”) has an icon in the “Installations” folder. The E65 sales package has written instructions for using both applications.
One of my favourite applications in the “Office” folder was the “Search” application. It doesn’t just search file names, the nifty little application can search through messages, e-mails, calendar events, to-dos, notes, contacts, and all other files. Each item has a checkbox so you can indicate which items to search and which not to. Handy!
There’s also a Message Reader application which can read text messages out loud. It does a pretty good job, and any word it doesn’t know how to say it will just spell out letter for letter. The accent is British but I had no trouble understanding what it said – and the message is displayed on screen at the same time if you need to double check what is being said.
Like other Nokia slider handsets, the top section slides up and down on two metal rails. The choice of metal over plastic makes the mechanism a lot more durable and it when slid up or down it locks into place with a satisfying click. When closed, the top section isn’t physically locked into place, but there is quite a bit of force holding the top section shut. Not once while testing the handset did it open up while being moved around from walking while it was in my pocket, or when pulling it out!
The buttons the E65 are tactile and large – perfect for writing long messages.
The only reason I’m not giving the E65 full stars in this department is because of the back cover. The back cover doesn’t seem like it clicks in properly, and the button on the removable battery cover does not push in very far, making it difficult to remove the back cover. Other than this, the E65 is a very well built device.
The BL-5F battery in the E65’s sales package has a 1000mAh capacity. Estimated standby times for handset on a fully charged battery are:
GSM: Up to 7 – 11 days
WCDMA: Up to 8 – 14 days
GSM/WCDMA and WLAN: Up to 4 – 5 days
And for talk time:
GSM: Up to 3 – 6 hours
WCDMA: Up to 1.8 – 2.5 hours
VoIP: Up to 2.2 – 3 hours
During my testing, I could get about 4 – 5 days of medium usage out of a fully charged battery, which I think is pretty good! Using features like the WLAN connectivity will significantly reduce the battery life, but I barely ever had that enabled. I did make a fair few audio calls and browse WAP pages heavily, and not forgetting SMS and MMS messaging.