Review: Asri's two weeks with the Nokia E52
Asri al-Baker reports on his first two weeks with the Nokia E52...
Hardware - built like a tank
E52's design and hardware materials continue the Eseries' legacy of class and luxury. Here are my notes:
- The screen is 240 x 320, standard QVGA with physical dimensions of 2.4" - an improvement over its predecessor E51's 2.0".
- Voice call quality is excellent!
- The keypad is the best alphanumeric keypad in recent Nokia S60 smartphones history. The tactile feedback is great, the finger moving range is perfect and the physical buttons themselves are huge by today's standard. The combination of big keypad buttons with the control keys made E52 perfect for one-hand usage.
- The Calendar and Messaging one-touch buttons can be configured to launch different applications for short and long presses. So you have 2 extra buttons!
- The 3.2 megapixel EDoF camera doesn't have a lens cover. LED flash is used. The camera portion is humped, meaning the E52 can't lay (perfectly) flat on a surface.
- The BP-4L 1500 mAh high-capacity battery is used even in such a micro package. For my usage, with heavy web browsing and texting, Gravity, push email 24/7 and some music, it still lasts 5 days. That's very impressive! You have to be very careful in removing the battery because you need to use a sharp object to lift the battery from its recess.
- The microSD slot is located at the back and you have to remove the battery cover first. In my opinion, it isn't user friendly to have to lift the battery cover everytime you want to access the memory card.
- The E52 uses a microUSB port for data transfer and charging. Nokia has included a converter that can be used for an old charger to refill E52's juice. However, the port is not covered by a plastic flap like the other recent Eseries.
- The placement of the camera button is in the middle, a little bit awkward, but it's a very high quality button and integrates well with the E52 design.
- I welcome the 3.5mm jack because I can plug in my Sony headphones easily. The sound quality is not bad.
The first time I held the E52 in my hands, I was impressed by how good it feels. It's not too small, like the 6120 Classic, and it's not as bulky as the E90. It feels very nice and comfortable to hold. The overall quality was superb, with no squeaky parts, and the metallic finish made it look luxurious. There is no wasted space. Like Rafe said in his E55 first hands on impression, I can't help but ask myself "where did the hardware go?"... The only complaint from me is the hidden microSD card slot.
Like the E75, the E52 and E55 (read Steve's excellent review) use S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2. Since the beginning, Eseries has been well known for software tweaks to address the target market it is aimed at - business people. For E52, the most significant improvements include :
- Home screen enhancement. There are 14 plug-ins to choose in Control Panel - Modes - Home screen applications.
The home screen plugin customisation
- Professional and Personal mode. I wish this feature would be made available to all Nokia S60 smartphones. Changing mode (or indeed mood!) is so easy.
- Contacts enhancement. You can search the contacts database from the Home screen by typing the first few letters of a name. It answers the question "why is Contacts missing from the quick-access keys?" I wish the search could include application launching as well, though.
The enhanced Contacts, an Eseries exclusive since the E71
- Calendar tweaks. The most obvious calendar tweak for the E52 is the transition effect, which adds a little bit of eye candy but also slows down the navigation experience - and there is no way to turn it off.
- Unified messaging. Nokia Messaging version 2.0 is included by default. First seen in the E75, it supports pseudo push email and a 2 year ("device lifetime") subscription is included. It includes Mail For Exchange and supports many webmail systems, such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Ovi Mail.
Nokia Messaging version 2 is integrated
- Full Quickoffice with editing and Office 2007 format support. It's only version 5.3, but you can upgrade to version 6 for free using Quickmanager.
Quickoffice, full editing and Office 2007 format support
The New S60 Web browser
The newest S60 Browser, aka Web v7.1 is included. This is a huge improvement for non-touch S60 smartphones. Among the new features are configurable keypad shortcuts and a customisable toolbar. It performs 2 to 3 times faster than the older Web (depends on the connection, of course). Upon further inspection at www.useragent.org, Webkit engine version 525 is used, which is also the same engine used in Safari mobile, found on the iPhone 3G.
The user agent of the new S60 Web
Many aspects of web site rendering are improved. For example, in the older S60 Web, Facebook's web site can be opened in 2 modes, the RAM-hungry Desktop version at www.facebook.com and the Mobile version at m.facebook.com.
Full Facebook on the left and Mobile Facebook on the right, in landscape mode
The new S60 Web is also capable of rendering the two Facebook web sites mentioned, PLUS another one, at x.facebook.com - which is the richer mobile version. Previously, the old Web wouldn't display it properly. The ability to render complex web sites is a huge bonus.
The richer version of Facebook mobile, also in landscape mode
For usability, the keypad shortcuts take Web browsing on non-touch S60 smartphone to a new level. It is now more convenient to access Web’s most used functions. The default setting is good enough for casual usage. However, the keypad shortcuts setting doesn’t include Page Up and Page Down being mapped to keys 2 and 8 - something which I love to use on Opera Mini.
There’s also a new popup toolbar, which can be accessed by pressing number 1 on the keypad, by default. On the old Web, the toolbar is not configurable. This one allows you to access bookmarks and history as well as other functions without digging deep into Options.
The popup toolbar and its Settings dialog
Speed and RAM improvement
One of the first things I did after getting the E52 was to disable the transitions effect from the Themes utility. It makes navigation faster and, in my opinion, the E52 is a speed demon when it comes to navigation and launching applications.
RAM never seems to be a problem - many applications can be opened at the same time without a performance problem, thanks to enhancements in S60 3rd Edition FP2 and the new hardware platform powered by a 600MHz processor. I have not experienced the notorious “Not Enough Memory” error yet.
Background applications, using Jbak Taskman
- Ovi Maps version 3.1 is included, giving a more polished and enjoyable GPS navigation experience. I have not tested it in full yet but so far, I have no problem finding locations and navigating to my desired destination. There’s also a built-in Compass (magnetometer) but it can be used only inside Ovi Maps. I wish someone could develop a standalone Compass application like the one for N97.
Ovimaps version 3.01 with compass
- Another small enhancement I noticed is the clock display in all screens, where possible. On the top right of the scree, next to the battery level icon, the time is displayed. Very convenient. This is a small tweak but nevertheless very useful.
Clock display in Menu and inside an application window (HanDBase is one of my all time favourite S60 apps!)
- The new predictive text input is good and can be configured to use 2 languages at once.
Text input configuration
The marriage of modern industrial design to the powerful and mature S60 3rd Edition FP2 has resulted in a package that is very compact yet very capable. The E52 is the best smartphone in the world at the moment, giving its sister, the E55, some serious competition.
Asri al-Baker, 21st August 2009
Reviewed by Asri al-Baker at