OK, so what smartphone
- Does audio, video, and still images (replete with a 3.2 megapixel camera)?
- Comes unlocked (ready for a SIM) to connect to a GSM network?
- Supports HSDPA (the faster of the two GSM flavored nets, the iPhone supports the slower one known as EDGE)
- Can browse the Web via a cellular or WiFi connection?
- Makes for both a great phone and a great messaging device (and can attach to corporate email)?
- Has a hardware-based keyboard and a separate numeric keypad?
- Has a removable battery?
- Supports Bluetooth's A2DP stereo headset profile?
- Can open and edit Microsoft Office documents (and open PDF docs too)?
- Supports the IMAP protocol for e-mail retrieval (better for folder support in email).
If you guessed Nokia's E90, you guessed right. OK, so the headline gave it away. While at Interop in NYC, I took a spin by Nokia's booth where the E90 was on display. Now, I've given a lot of video attention to some of Nokia's hottest mobile devices. In June of this year, I covered (via video) the N95 which comes with a 5-megapixel camera (is it a camera with a phone or a phone with a camera) and then last month, I covered (again, via video) the newer N95 as well as a prototype of the N81.
But, despite it being out since February of this year, I've yet to cover Nokia's E90 Communicator. One reason maybe is that they were hard to come by for a while. While at the Nokia exhibit, I asked one of the booth personnel how new the E90 was and I was told that it just started shipping "again" after Nokia had some inventory problems. However, when I asked some of the Nokia representatives if they'd be willing to go on camera to do an interview about the E90, I was told that none of them were authorized spokespeople. So, the inventory comment may or may not be true.
Even without them going on record though, I have to say, even with the iPhone being out right now, the E90 has some features that could quite possibly make it the ultimate business communications and mobile office device. Obviously, a lot of business people are buying iPhones and shoehorning it into their business lives (despite its shortcomings; no removable battery, no SD card slots, a soft-keyboard, lack of AD2P support, usage of the slower of AT&T's two networks, inability to attach it to T-Mobile's network without a hack, etc.).
The size of the iPhone's display and the usability of its built-in Web browser make the iPhone the best choice for working with highly visual content (video, Web sites, etc.). But, given the way the E90 overcomes almost all of the major shortcomings of the iPhone and given its relatively robust support for Microsoft Office (great review of that here), the E90's relative shortcomings in terms of display size and browser usability (it's not that it's unusable, it's just not as good as Safari on the iPhone) may be sacrifices worth making. It's usage of the faster HSDPA flavor of GSM (which is pretty snappy when you watch the video) can be a plus too for browsing the Web. However, those things said, there's one other sacrifice that relegates the E90 to the business elite. At bare minimum, an E90 is going to set you back by at least $800.
Anyway, the folks at the Nokia booth wouldn't go on camera because Nokia is pretty strict about who can speak on behalf of the company. So, I picked up the E90 and went solo. You can see the video by clicking the play button above.