- ✓Quad-band GSM and 3G
- ✓Good implementation of Wi-Fi
- ✓Dedicated key for conference calling
- ✓Good battery life
- ✓Ergonomic to use
- ✕No second camera for videoconferencing
- ✕Extended Wi-Fi use drains the battery quickly
Nokia's E series of mobile phones is aimed primarily at the business community and the company recently announced three new additions to the range: the E61i, E90 and E65. The E65 is a slider handset, a format with which Nokia has had mixed fortunes in the past. This is the first slider phone in the E series, and it can be viewed as the logical successor to the candybar-format E60. When it was announced, the E60 was somewhat eclipsed by the keyboard-toting E61. The E65 could, in its turn, be eclipsed by the clamshell-format E90 Communicator. That would be a pity, as the E65 has a lot to offer and is by far the most ergonomic and 'phone-like' of Nokia's latest E-series trio.
There are two colour schemes for the Nokia E65: our review unit was silver and brown (Nokia calls the colour 'mocca'), there's a silver and red variant too. Either way, the non-silver parts on the sides and back are made of a rubbery, comfortable-grip material. Much of the back of the handset has a faux leather patterning.
Slider handsets can be very small and light — indeed, this is part of the appeal of the format. This is not the case with the Nokia E65. It weighs in at 115g, is 49mm wide and 15.5mm thick. Most notably, it's quite a tall handset, in fact almost as tall as an ordinary candybar phone at 105mm. When the slider is opened to reveal the number pad, it grows to 135mm tall.
The good news is that this height is well used. The number pad is large. Its keys are 10mm wide and 7mm tall, and are all ridged in the centre, while the '5' key has two raised ribs, making the number keys easy to accurately hit with the thumb. The bottom row of keys on the number pad is — as is usual with a slider — very close to the bottom edge of the phone. The Nokia E65 is fairly well weighted so that hitting these does not present the overbalancing problems that can occur with this handset format.
With the slider closed, the front of the phone accommodates the screen, and a bank of keys that includes some designed specifically for business users. There are 10 keys plus a navigation button and central select key.
Six of these keys form a frame around the remainder, and are long and thin. They comprise the two softmenu keys, Call and End keys, the Nokia menu key and the Clear key. Were they not raised from their surroundings, it would be difficult to hit them accurately. As it is, after a little practice they are fairly comfortable to use.
Inside the frame formed by those keys, the square navigation button is also very thin, but again it's slightly raised from its surroundings ; it also stands out by virtue of being made of metal rather than plastic. The central select button is large. To its left and right are four shortcut buttons, which include the special 'business' buttons.
One of these can be used to initiate a conference call. This, Nokia believes, is ideal for people who work in teams and need to keep in touch as a group. The button can be configured to dial a conference call service — including automatically dialling call ID and PIN for login, adding people to an active call, or merging two current calls into a conference call. Another of the special keys mutes the handset microphone; the third opens the handset's contacts database; ans the fourth can be configured to open an application, a function or a web page.
Nokia has made the setting-up of the latter key as easy as possible. If it has not been defined, when you press it you are sent to the configuration area. Once it has been configured, a short press performs the desired action, while holding the key down returns you to the configuration area so you can set it to perform a different function.
The right edge of the phone houses a few other keys: the Nokia edit key; the voice recorder/voice commands key, which performs either function on a long or a short press respectively; and the volume rocker.
The 2.25in. 240-by-320-pixel screen supports up to 16.7 million colours. Nokia has chosen a rather dull grey background to its theme, but there is nothing to stop you downloading and applying an alternative.
The E65 ships with a soft slipcase, PC connectivity software and a USB cable, a mono earbud, a printed quick-start guide and a printed user manual.
The Nokia E65 is a quad-band GSM phone with 3G support. It lacks a second camera for two-way video calling, so use of 3G is limited to activities such as mobile email and web browsing. As well as catering for POP, SMTP and IMAP4 email, the handset supports the popular push email services. It includes readers for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and for PDFs, and has a Zip file manager among its other preloaded applications.
An application called Nokia Team Suite allows you to set up groups of people and then perform functions en masse. These include sending messages (MMS, SMS or email), viewing communication history and team web pages, and making phone calls to all members of a team in one go. Take this latter action and the phone will call each team member in turn, putting them on hold and then merging them into a conference call. This is a network-supported service, and the maximum number of callers supported is network-dependent.
The Nokia E65 includes infrared, Bluetooth 1.2 and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. The presence of Wi-Fi in mobiles is less rare than it once was, but the E65 goes a step further than other Nokia handsets we've seen in terms of making it usable. There is a Wi-Fi 'sniffer' on board, which can be set to check for networks in the vicinity at set intervals. A notification of Wi-Fi status can be placed on the handset's main screen. Effectively this can be used to ensure that you are always aware when Wi-Fi is available, and it takes only a couple of key presses to join a network.
If you don't want continuous scanning, a manual scan is a simple matter of selecting an icon on the main screen. Even more appealing, once you are on a network, dialling a call offers the option of making an internet or a cellular call. VoIP users may enjoy this feature, although network operators could suffer as a result.
There is 50MB of memory built into the Nokia E65, which you can augment with microSD cards. The right edge of the casing has a slot for memory cards, which is protected by the battery cover.
Although it lacks a camera on the front for videoconferencing, Nokia has included a 2-megapixel camera on the back. This is hampered by its lack of flash, self-portrait mirror, auto focus and macro modes, all of which are regularly found in feature phones, smartphones and connected handhelds in varying combinations. During testing we found it to produce images of average quality.
Like all Series 60 handsets, the Nokia E65 includes a music player. As already noted, Nokia bundles a mono earbud, so music fans will need to invest in a Nokia stereo headset that copes with the E65's Pop-Port connector.
There are many other applications preinstalled on this handset. They include a superior-quality web browser, image-viewing software, calculator, notes manager, unit converter and a utility to read out incoming messages.
Performance & battery life
As a mobile phone aimed primarily at business users, it's important that the Nokia E65 can cope with a demanding level of usage. Our standard battery rundown test for mobiles involves asking them to play MP3 files non-stop with their screen forced to remain on. The E65 did well here, delivering a shade under 10 hours of life.
Testing with Wi-Fi told a different story though, with the battery being depleted rather more quickly. The Wi-Fi sniffer is a good idea well implemented, but it needs to be used sparingly to ensure the battery is not depleted too quickly. We would not want to leave it active for a full working day.
Ergonomically this is a comfortable handset to use, and pretty much everything except number dialling and text-entry-based activities such as email or SMS creation can be achieved without opening the slider.