Business phones have started to discover their fun side. Just look at the Blackberry – it was a boardroom hermit, then the Pearl waltzed in and made it cool with its loosened tie and multimedia charm.
Now the suits’ favourite range, the Nokia E Series, is branching out with the E65. It’s still a serious businessman’s workhorse, but combines an almost RAZR-thin waist with an uncharacteristically outlandish faux-leather finish that’s available in grey or – gasp – red.
So, is it one part smartphone, one part fashion phone? Not exactly. The E65 is way too drab to get celebsville fingering its slide mechanism. What’s really impressive, though, is its size-to-features ratio. Inside that 16mm waist, it’s packed with enough features to make us bandy around complimentary phrases like ‘N80-lite’.
It’s the combination of supreme connectivity – Wi-Fi, HSDPA and Bluetooth – and the Series 60 interface that will get suits and smartphone fans purring. Thanks to the syncing software, it’s easy to suck all your contacts and diary from a Mac or PC, load them on the E65, and slip them into your top pocket.
It doesn’t suffer the N80’s usability issues either. Start-up is twice as fast, it’s quicker round the menus and battery life is much more respectable: with moderate use, it’ll be a good few days before you need to get it to a mains.
Not so happy snapper
But then, it’s much less fun than our former smartphone champ. Firstly, the screen is only QVGA. It can still display an impressive 16 million colours, but it’s no match for the N80’s 150,000 pixel beauty. The 2MP camera is also poor. Not only is there no autofocus or flash, the viewfinder screen is tiny and photos were drab.
As we’re feeling extra-picky, we’ll also point out that the miniSD card slot is annoyingly placed under the battery cover and there’s no A2DP Bluetooth for stereo headphones. But the E65 will retort, quite fairly, that it’s a super-thin business phone not an entertainment show pony.
In fact, despite being a centimetre thinner than the N80, it’s a very complete business phone. All the messaging bases are covered – we set it up with our Gmail account and there’s instant messaging too – and, best of all, it has the excellent Series 60 web browser which makes navigating large web pages as easy as using a desktop.
There’s no question that for a full multimedia banquet Nokia’s N Series, in particular the N95, is a better option. But if you’re happy for your smartphone to sacrifice GPS and a decent camera for a Moto RAZR-like form factor, the E65 is awaiting your call.