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Nokia E75: A So-So Smartphone

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Nokia E75

Nokia E75

Nokia

At first glance, the Nokia E75 looks like your average Nokia cell phone: On the front of the phone, you see the small numeric keypad underneath a medium-sized screen. Upon closer inspection, however, you realize that the E75 is in fact a full-featured smartphone in a compact case.

Price and Availability

The Nokia E75 is sold unlocked, meaning you don't purchase it from a carrier. While that means you're not tied into a lengthy service contract, it also means you don't get the benefit of a carrier subsidized price. As such, you can expect to pay anywhere from $430 to $600 for the phone. You'll also need to supply your own SIM (in the U.S., the Nokia E75 will work on either the T-Mobile or AT&T network).

Design

The Nokia E75, which is available in black or red, is a slider-style phone: When closed, it looks like a typical bar-shaped cell phone, with a 2.4-inch screen and a numeric keypad. But a full QWERTY keyboard slides out from beneath the phone, allowing you to take advantage of its many features.

The tradeoff for the full keyboard is, of course, a bit of heft: The Nokia E75 is .5 inches thick and weighs 4.8 ounces. It feels a bit like a brick in your hand. And while I appreciate having the full keyboard, this one isn't my favorite: While the keys are big, they're very flat and slick, which makes them hard to press.

Making Calls

The Nokia E75 has many strengths, but making calls is not one of them. I found the numeric keypad on the front of the phone hard to use, with keys that are too small and too slick. And I noticed a bit of static during most of my test calls. The compact phone is comfortable to hold next to your ear, though.

Software

The Nokia E75 is based on Nokia's S60 platform, which itself is based on the Symbian mobile operating system. Symbian is functional, but when you compare it to today's slick mobile operating systems, including the iPhone OS, Palm's webOS, and Google Android, it feels very dated. You can find your way around relatively easily (though finding some applications requires digging through far more menus and folders than I'd like), but overall experience never wowed me.

On-board applications include the QuickOffice mobile office suite, which lets you view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files. Doing so on the Nokia E75's small screen can be a challenge, though. You also get a PDF reader and several basic apps, including a file manager, a compression app, calculator, and a notes manager.

If the applications you're looking for aren't on the phone itself, you may be able to find them in Nokia's recently-launched Ovi Store. Like the Symbian software on the phone itself, the Ovi Store isn't the prettiest to look at, but it is easy enough to use.

Browsing the Web

The phone supports both Wi-Fi wireless networks and the 3G HSDPA network, so browsing is speedy. That's the good news.

The E75 comes with Nokia's Web browser, which is adequate for light use. It displays mobile versions of most sites, which makes them easy to read on the phone's relatively small screen. You also get support for Flash Lite, so you can use Flash-based sites within the browser. But it also makes the overall browsing experience not as enjoyable as it would be using some of today's best mobile browsers. Zooming in and out on Web pages, for example, requires delving into menus, rather than just tapping a button -- or, better yet, a touch screen.

Luckily, the included Nokia browser is not your only option; you can download Opera Mobile from the Ovi Store for free.

Messaging

Nokia recently upgraded its messaging client, and you get the latest version on the E75. Nokia Messaging is now on a par with most of today's smartphone e-mail systems, though not quite as aesthetically pleasing. Bland interface aside, though, the e-mail client is easy to set up and use. For most e-mail accounts, set up requires nothing more than your e-mail address and password, and the E75 will support up to 10 different personal e-mail accounts.

Camera, GPS, and More

The Nokia E75 comes with a 3.2-megpixel camera with some nifty features, such as an 8x digital zoom, flash, autofocus, and self-timer. It captures video clips as well as still photos, and I found video quality was actually better than the photos I took, which looked washed-out.

The phone also features built-in GPS, but you'll have to pay for access to Nokia's software that offers turn-by-turn driving directions. The app costs $14 per month.

The E75 works pretty well as a music player, though. You can play back a variety of audio file formats, including MP3, WMA, and AAC files, and you can transfer your own tunes on to the phone, or purchase them over-the-air from Nokia's music store (though the store does not have a U.S. version). The phone also includes an FM tuner and can connect to Internet radio stations.

The Nokia E75 has many impressive features, and offers a solid mix of tools for work and play. But the Symbian software it runs needs an update before this phone can compete with today's best smartphones.

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