The arrival of the new E65 finally signals the start of slider design being taken seriously by Nokia as a form factor that's practical and handy enough to be roped into its E-series of business handsets. Oddly, while Nokia is the leader in many market segments, the company has never been known as neither the fastest adopter nor creator of new handset design. Nevertheless, with the E65 now in the ranks, Nokia's E-series finally has something for every modern individual out there in business land.
Although Nokia is marketing the E65 as a business phone with style and substance, our views about the style part are not quite on the same wavelength. Even though it's a completely new model, you'll agree with us that the fascia of the E65 is all but ordinary. After successive years of releasing handsets designed for the Series 60 user interface, it's inevitable that new handsets such as the E65 looks, unfortunately, just like another Nokia Symbian phone. We couldn't help but feel somewhat jaded by the styling of Nokia handsets in recent times, especially with striking designs constantly popping out from the likes of LG, Sony Ericsson and Motorola.
Happily however, the E65 is delightfully slim and well put together. The latter is complemented by a soft leather skin with a rubbery texture that wraps around the entire phone, which should bolster confidence in the daily handling of the handset. But as compact as it is, the E65 manages to be a technology-laden phone, completely tricked out with 3G and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connections, Bluetooth and Infrared, a 2.0-megapixel camera, a handsfree speaker, a microSD memory expansion slot, and a large QVGA display.
Putting a fuzzy logic conclusion to all these components is the Symbian OS 9.1, Series 60 UI (User Interface), giving the E65 the ability to serve as a handheld computer for web browsing, communication, and multimedia purposes. On the tactility end, keys on the E65 are easy to use and proportionally sized – although the close proximity of the C (Cancel) button to the Disengage button does raise concern of users accidentally exiting applications.
Covering the business side of things are several distinguishing points such as WLAN (WirelessLAN) wizard, Team Suite application, In-device search and Message Reader. These are essentially the backbone applications that define the E65 – together with the abovementioned hardware of course. Of the lot, Team Suite application is the most invaluable, especially for managers and sales folks. What it does is that it allows groups comprising of different contacts each to be set, thereby making it easier for anyone to arrange for conference calls or send out mass messages/instructions to groups such as "Department Heads", "Sales Team" and "My Team", for example. All was smooth and easy with data communication and web browsing via 3G and Wi-Fi respectively. However, it is best that you keep Wi-Fi usage short so as not to cut short an otherwise impressive battery life of three days (with moderate use), which was what we got during our trial. Handsfree quality was good, as was the integrated camera.
In a nutshell, Nokia has a sweet package in the E65, so much so that we don't think it's just for people in warm business attire. Admittedly, styling may not be the most inspiring but that's not such a big deal considering just how practical and pocket friendly the E65 is and how appropriate it is in today's highly connected society. It's currently going for USD$450 or SGD$748 without contract.