What's hot: High quality look and feel, fast CPU, 10.2Mbps HSDPA
What's not: Not a huge step up from the Nokia E71, small QVGA display is dated and limiting.
June 2010 Editor's Note: If you're a T-Mobile customer, check out the Nokia E73 Mode, T-Mobile's version of this phone.
Reviewed February 5, 2010 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The Nokia E72 has a hard act to follow in the much-loved Nokia E71. Though affordable, the E71 had excellent build quality, that Eseries liberal use of metal rather than plastic, plenty of features and it just plain old worked well. The NAM unlocked edition with US 3G HSDPA on AT&T's bands sold well here by no-contract phone standards, helped by the fact it was relatively inexpensive. Even AT&T eventually picked it up as the Nokia E71x, albeit with their usual liberal dusting of bloatware.
Like the E71 NAM, the E72 NAM is a quad band unlocked GSM phone with EDGE and 3G HSDPA on AT&T's 3G bands and Europe's 2100MHz band. It's EDGE only on T-Mobile in the US. Since it's an unlocked phone, you need not sign up for a new contract or extend your existing contract. Just pop in your SIM card, let the E72 automatically configure itself for your carrier's data, SMS and MMS settings and you're ready to roll.
It's been 1.5 years since the E71 launched, and Nokia has been teasing us with promises of the E72's much faster CPU, better camera (you could only go up from the E71's weak camera), updated design and improved multimedia in a still super-slim package. Unfortunately, some things stayed the same: namely the small QVGA display. Heck, it's 2010 and QVGA is feeling mighty dated-- even the once conservative RIM has moved up to larger, higher resolution displays. At 320 x 240 pixels, you'll be doing plenty of scrolling, and Nokia has at least made that task easier with their new optical d-pad that can also act as a traditional d-pad if you're feeling retro. The optical pad works well, and we vote it as an improvement.
The keyboard on the E71, though small, was uncannily usable. The E72's is even better and typing is a joy on this QWERTY messaging phone. If your thing is texting and email, the E72 has its eye on you. The keys are domed, clearly backlit in white and pleasantly tactile. There's now a dedicated Ctrl key and a few keys handle alternate functions like turning on the flash light and accessing Bluetooth. We did notice that typing sometimes lagged behind our key presses and hope that Nokia's fixes this in a future firmware update (Nokia can generally be counted on to release firmware updates for their S60 phones).
The phone comes with Nokia Email (2.1 on our unit) and it handles POP3, IMAP and MS Exchange via Mail for Exchange (MfE) and Gmail too. You'll get HTML email with MS Exchange 2007 and though some folks have had trouble setting up email accounts with Nokia's relatively new email client, we had no trouble with POP3, IMAP and Gmail account setup and operation. The email app also supports Yahoo, Lotus Notes Traveler and Hotmail among others. While it might not have the immediacy of the BlackBerry email push system, you don't have to sign up for an expensive data plan either. Nokia phones work just fine with inexpensive feature phone data plans on AT&T and T-Mobile (and other GSM carriers).
If you're into social networking, there's a decent Facebook app included and you can download free and paid clients to extend IM support, and add MySpace and Twitter (Gravity rocks for Twitter). These are available through the Ovi store on the phone.
Since the E72 runs the newest available version of Symbian OS and S60: Symbian 9.4 with S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2, you get stronger multimedia format support, a more flexible Active Standby home screen and and Modes (i.e.: Work and Home with different apps and background). The changes are subtle but do improve usability.
The Nokia N900, Nokia N97 mini and Nokia E72.
The usual S60 folder system is still there, which veteran Nokia fans often love (hey, it's familiar) and other folks find takes too many clicks. We won't argue that some tasks do take quite a few wiggles of the d-pad and clicks to get done, but if you're familiar and happy with S60 this likely won't bother you. Nokia seems to try out a new folder arrangements randomly, and it did take time to find where all those familiar S60 apps now live. You can move things around and create your own folders, of course.
Likewise, Nokia plays with their photo and video viewers, and this time it's all in the Gallery application. Once you enter Gallery you see a list of un-sexy folders for photos, video, songs, sound clips, streaming links and presentations. What music is doing here, we're not sure since it merely takes you to the Music Player application.
The Nokia E72 has a 3.5mm stereo jack up top.
Given the E72's impressive 600MHz ARM 11 processor, and the widened codec support, we expected a bit more from the video player. Yes, it supports MPEG4 and even WMV but VGA MPEG4 video encoded at mobile-friendly low bitrates (660 kbps) seems to strain the phone and we saw frame drops. It seems that QVGA video is the best bet, and these played well up to 900kbps. In truth, we're not sure that extended video viewing is something you'd expect to do on a relatively low resolution, 2.36" display. If that's your thing, go with an S60 5th Edition smartphone with a larger, higher resolution display like the Nokia N97 or N97 mini.
In all other tasks, the E72 is quite responsive and the faster CPU means quicker folder open times and generally improved application performance compared to the E71. Flash video playback via YouTube's desktop site is actually watchable even if blocky. It drops frames but it's worlds better than the E71.
Here's our 7.5 minute video review of the Nokia E72:
Phone and Internet
The quad band GSM E72 will work with any GSM provider's SIM for calls and data on GPRS and EDGE. It has 3G HSDPA up to 10.2 Mbps for use overseas and with AT&T in the US. We tested it with both T-Mobile and AT&T SIM cards and the phone worked well and automatically configured settings to match each carrier. We primarily used the phone on AT&T since it has 3G on that carrier's bands. Call quality was very good, as per usual for Nokia E and Nseries smartphones. The rear-firing speakerphone, powered by a large mono speaker, wasn't all that loud but it was clear. We tested the phone with several Bluetooth headsets including the Jawbone 2 and Plantronics Discovery 925 and it worked well in terms of voice quality and connection reliability. Bluetooth range was average, and we got about 15 feet before voice quality began to degrade.
Nokia's excellent Webkit browser is on board with Flash support, and it does a good job of rendering full HTML sites accurately and quickly. Since this isn't a touch screen phone, you use the d-pad to move a virtual cursor around web pages. At QVGA resolution, you'll only see very small sections of desktop-oriented sites, so plan on plenty of scrolling. Though the browser is capable enough, the low resolution means we wouldn't recommend this smartphone to someone who plans to spend a lot of time web browsing.
GPS and Camera
The E72 has a built-in GPS with aGPS, and you can download the full version of Ovi Maps for free (Nokia made it free in January 2010). This gives the E72 and other recent S60 smartphones an edge against other smartphones that require you to pay for turn-by-turn spoken navigation. Nokia Maps' routing is decent, but their POI database is spotty in the US. You can use 3rd party navigation applications as well. We had no trouble with the GPS hardware at all, in fact it performed quite well and managed fast fixes and solid satellite locks.
The 5 megapixel autofocus camera is a vast improvement over the E71's lower resolution shooter. It isn't just the higher resolution; images are sharper and clearer with better exposure. The E72 still can't compare to Nokia's own Nseries phones and their superior cameras, but for a business phone, this is a decent camera. The phone can also shoot VGA video at 15 fps and there's a flash that's useful for close range shooting.
The E72, much as we'd anticipated it, is something of a let-down. It is by no means a bad phone and the features are good: it has a fast CPU, US 3G HSDPA, WiFi, a GPS, Bluetooth with a full set of profiles, an SDHC microSD card slot and an FM radio. But it just doesn't add enough to the Nokia E71 package to make us want to replace the E71. Yes, it's faster and the camera is better, but are those good enough reasons to spend $350? If you're not considering upgrading from an E71 but are looking for an unlocked GSM QWERTY-bar smartphone, the E72's definite good looks, quality design and strong keyboard are worth a look. But RIM's BlackBerry smartphones offer stiff competition, at least the higher end models like the BlackBerry 9700. The E72 just lacks that special something, be it updated software or cool new hardware, to make us rave. But it's a solid phone with all the features a business person needs, and it's a good looking piece in the hand.
Display:24 bit QVGA 320 x 240 pixel color LCD. Diagonal screen measurement: 2.36 inches. Has accelerometer and ambient light sensor.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable, 1500 mAh (BP-4L). Uses the smaller round charger connector and not micro USB (uses micro USB for sync). Claimed talk time: 12.5 hours on GSM, 5 hours 54 minutes on 3G. Claimed video playback time (max): 13 hours. Claimed music playback time (max): 37.5 hours.
Performance:ARM 11 600 MHz processor. 128 megs RAM. 512 MB Flash ROM with 250 megs
available to store applications and data.
Size:4.48 x 2.34 x .39 inches. Weight: 4.51 ounces.
Phone:GSM quad band unlocked 850/900/1800/1900MHz with EDGE. On the NAM (US version) 3G HSDPA 10.2 Mbps on AT&T's 850/1900MHz bands and 2100MHz for abroad. Supports VoIP calling.
Camera:5.0 MP with autofocus lens and LED flash. Max photo resolution: 2592 x 1944. Max video resolution: VGA 640 x 480 at 15 fps. Has front-facing VGA camera.
GPS: Has GPS with aGPS and a compass. The GPS works with the now free Ovi Maps and other mapping and navigation applications.
Audio and Video:Built
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Gallery, Flash Player, Real Player and music player included. Supported video formats: GPP formats (H.263), Flash Video, H.264/AVC, MPEG-4, RealVideo 7,8,9/10 and WMV. Supported audio formats: AAC, AAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AU, eAAC+, M4A, MIDI Tones (poly 64), MP3, MP4, RealAudio 7, 8, 10, SP-MIDI, True tones, WAV and WMA.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR with a full suite of profiles including A2DP stereo and DUN.
Software:Symbian OS 9.4 with S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2.