What's hot: Slim and beautiful with great build quality
What's not: QVGA resolution is getting old.
Reviewed June 11, 2009 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The Nokia E75 is one of the few QWERTY side-slider smartphones that masquerades as a candybar phone. Like the HTC S740, it has a front number pad and d-pad and can be used as a traditional phone, complete with T9-style text entry. But wait: slide the display rightwards to reveal a roomy full QWERTY keyboard. For the uncoordinated like me who forever play Where's Waldo with the embedded number pad on QWERTY-bar phones like the Nokia E71x and my otherwise beloved BlackBerry Bold when fooling with phone trees and other automated forms of torture, the E75's dual nature appeals.
Specs at a Glance
The Nokia E75, or E75-2 or E75 NAM (the latter two signifying this is the US version with 3G HSDPA on AT&T's bands and a US warranty) is sold unlocked on Nokia's US website (nokiausa.com) and by online retailers like Dell, Amazon and Buy.com. The smartphone runs S60 3rd Edition feature pack 2 and it has a 369MHz CPU, a GPS, accelerometer, MS Exchange mail support, 3G HSDPA on AT&T's bands (850/1900MHz plus 2100MHz for Europe) and EDGE for T-Mobile US and overseas carriers. It's a quad band unlocked GSM world phone and it sells for around $500 (no contract required). The E75 can sync to both Windows and Mac OS X computers.
Here's our 10 minute video review of the Nokia E75:
Design and Keyboard
The Nokia E75 is an elegant, slim and attractive phone. Unlike some N series Nokia models that scream plastic, this one has that glass, chrome and metal look that makes you think of tastefully designed skyscrapers and the (ahem) iPhone 3G. Fit and finish are excellent and the slider is solid. The phone is available in black and red, though red USA models haven't surfaced yet as of this writing. The back cover is metal with a swirled texture, similar to the Nokia E71, while the number pad and keyboard keys are black with white masking which makes for good contrast both with and without backlighting.
The d-pad "breathes" but it's a traditional design and there's no touch sensitive center area as with some N series phones. It's easy to operate, as are the relatively large number pad keys. The QWERTY keyboard is very good: the keys are large and the keyboard as a whole is large, though not so large as to cause stretched-thumb syndrome. This is a 4 row keyboard and the numbers are embedded. We like the dual shift keys, oversized space bar and @ key-- the only thing we wish for is more key travel, but that would have made this very slim 0.57" phone fatter. Though not as good as the BlackBerry Bold and Curve 8900 keyboards or the HTC Touch Pro2 in terms of tactile feedback and typing speed, it easily beats the Palm Pre.
The side volume controls are easy to operate, while the recessed voice command button is hard to press and hold (you won't start voice dialing by accident). There's a dedicated camera button and the power button does double duty with the call end button on the phone's front face. The micro USB port and SDHC microSD card slot are under snug rubber doors, and the E75 uses the small round charging connector, not micro USB.
Phone and Data
Like most Nokia phones, voice quality for calls is excellent. Reception is a bit above average for a GSM phone, but not as strong as the best Nokia smartphones. Data speeds are good over AT&T's HSDPA 3G network with quick email downloads and page load times, but T-Mobile folks will only get EDGE. As a consolation, the E75 has WiFi 802.11b/g for fast Internet when you're in range of an accessible WiFi network. The Safari-family webkit web browser is excellent, but the low screen resolution limits surfing ease. The E75 has triband 3G HSDPA which means it will work in Europe on the 2100MHz band as well as in the US on AT&T's 3G bands.
A little business, a little pleasure
Nokia's E series phones are designed for business, while their N series phones are self-described "multimedia computers". That said, the E75 packs a lot of leisure-oriented fun. It has Real Player, Nokia's gallery application, Flash Lite 3.0 (it can play full desktop Flash YouTube videos, though the 320 x 240 screen resolution is a bit low to enjoy them since they're often clipped and require scrolling), a music player that handles MP3, non-copy protected iTunes format AAC files and WMA, local video playback, podcasting, FM and Internet radio and voice recording. The phone balked at locally stored MP4 video larger than QVGA resolution for some reason (gave an error message and only played the audio tracks, but it could play self-recorded VGA video). An extra surprise is N-Gage gaming support. Watch our video to see the E75 running 3D N-Gage games quite well.
The QVGA 240 x 320 pixel color display is very sharp and has good colors. It's quite nice but at 2.4" it's small and that resolution feels low and dated. We really wish Nokia would offer VGA resolution on the S60 phones to make web browsing more enjoyable and video playback more compelling.
On the business side, the phone comes with the usual QuickOffice to view, edit and create MS Office documents, though you'll have to pay an upgrade fee to get Office 2007 compatibility. There's a PDF viewer, Intranet support, a multi-language translation dictionary (you can download free dictionaries to add languages direct to the phone), a calculator, unit converter, Zip manager, file manager and Nokia's Active notes. This is the first S60 Nokia smartphone to ship with Nokia's new email client, and it's a much more modern application than the old Nokia messaging application. It handles POP3, IMAP and Exchange email and has a wizard that can set up most accounts with a minimum of user input. It can check on a schedule or manually, though we found it sometimes forgot to check email until we woke up the phone. There's also time-of-day scheduling, so you can set it to check email from 8am to 9pm, for example, and this worked well for us.
Nokia's S60 3rd Edition feature pack 2 is fast and clean with good performance overall. The phone packs a few party tricks garnered from its built-in accelerometer. You can silence an incoming call ring or alarm by placing the phone face down or by tapping it. Beware that if the tapping feature is turned on and you've turned on vibrate, the phone will mistake its own vibration for a tap and silence itself in a second. The phone can rotate the display based on physical orientation and you can turn that feature off, along with the turn-over and tap features if you wish.
A better Camera and GPS
Nokia's E series cameras haven't impressed us, despite features like autofocus and lots of custom settings (take the E71 as an example-- weak camera). The E75 changes that with a solid 3.2 megapixel autofocus offering that has a wimpy LED flash. Photos are sharp and have good color, though nighttime shots are quite noisy. Unlike the Nokia E71 and E71x, there's no bizarre keyboard autofocus control-- just press the center of the d-pad to take a shot. Even more surprising for a business phone, the E75 can shoot VGA video at 30fps, though quality doesn't rival the Nokia N95 and newer 5 megapixel N series phones.
The Nokia E75's GPS is simply wonderful. Gone are the days of slow fixes and dropped satellites: the E75 gets a fix even indoors within 15 feet of a window in a residential building and it keeps that fix even under cloudy skies. The phone ships with Nokia Maps 2.0 and includes a 90 day free trial of driving and walking navigation. The basic functions are free (maps, POIs), so it's spoken directions you're paying for should you choose to continue the subscription after the trial period. Directions and routing are good (much improved from Nokia Maps 1.0), and depending on the subscription duration, Nokia's service can be less expensive than TeleNav which is offered by US carriers.
A superbly slim and attractive phone, the Nokia E75 has the class and quality of a Bond movie prop (we're speaking of the black version, we haven't seen the red model in the flesh). The smartphone has Nokia's usual excellent voice quality and phone-centric features, slightly better than average reception and a good QWERTY keyboard. The phone does an excellent job of throwing fun into the mix with multimedia aplenty, N-Gage gaming support, A2DP Bluetooth stereo and a 3.5mm stereo jack. As a business phone, the E75 does well thanks to the keyboard and Nokia's new email client, though there are still a few kinks to be worked out (and Nokia always does improve their software and firmware). It's hard not to like this phone and the only detractor is the 2.4" QVGA display. A high end E series phone really should be offering something better in this day and age. Compared to the 480 x 360 displays on the BlackBerry Bold and 8900, it's weak for those who are frequent web browser and Office users. Nokia also faces a good dose of self-competition: their own very successful Nokia E71 and E71x offer many of the same features for less money.
Display:16 million color LCD. Screen size diagonally: 2.4". Resolution:
240 x 320, supports both portrait and landscape modes.
Ion rechargeable (Nokia BL-4U). Battery is user replaceable.
1000 mA. Claimed 3G talk time: up to 4 hours.
Performance:369MHz single core ARM-compatible CPU.
Size:4.40 x 1.97 x 0.57 in inches. Weight: 4.9 ounces.
Phone:GSM quad band unlocked world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands with EDGE. 3G HSDPA on the AT&T US 850/1900MHz bands and 2100MHz for Europe.
Camera:3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus lens, LED flash and self-portrait mirror. Can record video up to VGA resolution at 30fps. Front-facing video conferencing camera (not supported by any US carrier) with QCIF 176 x 144 resolution.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
GPS:Has GPS with aGPS. Nokia Maps included with 90 day free trial.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR.
Software:Symbian OS 9.3, S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2. Full PIM suite (calendar, contacts, notes), email (POP3, IMAP, Exchange), SMS/MMS, QuickOffice (MS Office compatible suite that reads and writes Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents), text to speech, encryption utility, settings wizard (sets up wireless data and MMS connections), calculator, world clock, search, wireless printing, Adobe PDF viewer, file manager, unit converter, Java VM, Flash Lite 3.0, Podcasting, FM radio/Internet radio, camera, voice recorder, Gallery, Nokia Maps 2.0, GPS utility, Zip manager, music player and application downloader. Nokia includes syncing software for Windows on CD, and a free iSync plugin for Mac OS X via download.