In all its QWERTY-ness, the Nokia E5 made it out and its popularity has been steadily increasing since its launch. It’s no BlackBerry, but then again it offers no presumptions of being one. The E5 looks like a slightly higher-end and much needed update to the E63 which was Nokia's affordable E-series business class phone for those users who didn’t have the extra Rs. 6000 to shell out for the E72. Here’s a closer look.

Form Factor
The E5 is a simple looking QWERTY keypad loaded handset. It’s comfortable to use as the buttons are large and soft enough to go into a typing spree without your fingers getting coarse. The space bar also doubles up as a ‘Torch’ key. Essentially it turns on the LED for the camera to be used as a torch light. The 3.2-inch QVGA display is not scratch resistant so I’d suggest a screen guard as a precaution. The charging port, micro USB slot and 3.5mm handsfree socket are both placed at the top of the device making it really convenient for usage. A set of volume/zoom keys are on the right side of the device. Like the Nokia C3 two buttons on the side pop open the rear panel.

Lightweight and comfortable to use

A real downer in the design is that the E5 has no hot swap for the microSD card. That’s also just about the only flaw in the whole design.

Features and Performance
There’s nothing radically new with the S60 platform except for the new Home Screen. It’s just a horizontal variant of previous versions but does make things just a little bit more interesting for access. The built-in Facebook application allows you to sync your phonebook contacts with your online contacts and merge them automatically. A couple of oddities in this system are – if you’ve saved contacts with nicknames, syncing is a big problem so you’ll have to manually handle most. Secondly, even though the system picks up the profile pic of your contact from FB you can’t use that image as a contact thumbnail like you would in Android. You’ll have to use an alternate image stored on the handset or capture one using the camera. The layout of these shortcuts is well designed though. You can access all correspondence with a contact in your shortcut bar from one space.

Soft keys that are large enough to suit all finger sizes

On the whole, the UI is smooth when it comes to navigating the menus or accessing apps. The E5 also handles multi-tasking quite efficiently. There’s just one instance where the handset isn’t as fast as required, but I’ll get to that in just a little while.

The E5’s music player is, simply put, brilliant. Without tweaking the audio, music quality came in loud and clear as ever. If you don’t agree that’s probably because you’re using the bundled handsfree. My recommendation – don’t! Get yourself a better set and you’ll get a real kick out of the player. Amongst the EQ presets is a customizable option with an 8 band graphic EQ set up. Bass Boost and Stereo Widening options are also provided to add a little more pizazz to your tunes. The E5 is also provisioned with a Stereo FM radio and an Internet radio option which would work a whole lot better had 3G been prevalent all over. It works on EDGE of course but buffering takes a lot longer. Wi-Fi will obviously give you optimum quality.

The metal plate rear gives it a very chic look

Videos are easy to view provided they’re in the appropriate formats. The E5 reads files in MPEG4, 3GP and WMV formats. The handset's overall multimedia capabilities include a 30 day trial of Shazam, a voice recorder, Music search (that really didn’t work at all), a podcast app and Nokia’s Home Media app that let’s you sync media files from your home wireless services to your handset.

The handset came with no games preloaded but it’s an E-series device so you shouldn’t really expect any. If you want those apps though there are plenty available via the Ovi Store.

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