You know, this device to me sums up why Nokia and Symbian are patently losing ground in the great smartphone wars and losing market share. The out of the box experience, setting up the device can be summed up in one word and that word, dear readers, is “dismal”. I shared with you a couple of weeks ago my experience, short lived though it was, with the Windows Mobile toting Samsung B7330 Pro and the setting up nonsense was sadly similar on the E72. Nokia has to learn and learn quickly, initial impressions are important and Joe Bloggs, walking into CarPhoneWarehouse or wherever it is, is certainly going to be impressed by the look and feel of these latest Nokia smartphones but he or she is not going to be smiling when they get home, unbox it and then try to start setting up their email accounts and internet access.
Nowadays, over the past year and a bit, I am accustomed to just sticking in the SIM card, firing up the device and entering a couple of simple details and all my email and internet is configured automatically for me. This happens on the iPhone and the Android devices I have used and now, even, on BlackBerry phones. To have to fanny about online searching forums looking for solutions to setting up a GMail account these days is frankly poor but that’s what happened to me, and to many others, despite Nokia claiming to have some wonderful “email wizard” onboard the E72 when you first turn it on. It took me ages to work out or to finally get my GMail account set up. When I did finally get it working i was taken aback by how poorly it displays, the text is blocky and pixellated and looks like it was designed about 10 years ago. Credit where it is due though as the app itself works well and is fully featured although push email is not supported unless you try and set it up via Mail for Exchange….if you do try, good luck. I quickly installed Profimail as this does offer push, is easy to set up and reliable. Thing is, experienced Symbian users will know the ins and outs of how these things work and it will be simple for them to get things sorted but for semi-newbies like me it’s just not user friendly.
Then there is the age-old Symbian silliness about different apps have different ways of connecting to the internet. Some seem to just accept the existing connection just fine whilst others pop up a menu asking you how you want to connect. This is daft. If you are obviously not connected to a wifi network why doesn’t the system not automatically choose the default access point? It’s annoying and needless too.
Oddly, on the major sites that I read who had reviewed the E72, none thought fit to mention the email setting up hassle or have commented how fiddly the whole thing is compared to other platforms, perhaps they are just used to it or expect it.
Anyway, mustn’t gripe too much (yet). So, I bought this phone just to do some things and so far, once it was set up to my liking, it has been good. The keyboard is amazing and with first class auto-correction you can bomb through typing emails, texts and tweets in a manner I could never achieve on the HTC Hero, for example. I have however turned off “text correction” as it was a bit too keen to change things. Battery life, as you would expect, is turning out to be stellar. I’d left on Bluetooth all day by mistake, made some calls, did loads of playing around with apps and settings, synced via Missing Sync for Symbian (probably not worth getting incidentally) via Bluetooth, had wifi on for over an hour last night, push email on via Profimail all day and it has hardly made a dent in the battery indicator.
I’ve been very easy on the software front too having only installed Gravity, a very decent Twitter client which suffers from the small screen estate on the E72 but would be great on touch screened bigger devices, SPB Weather, the free Bloomberg Finance application (adding my shares was a bloody nightmare with a truly pish UI), a threaded SMS Chat application which I already owned, SPB Wallet which is an excellent Password Manager and which I’d also previously bought, Handy TaskMan to manage running apps and that’s about it. I don’t intend to spend a lot of time trying out many 3rd party applications for two reasons. Firstly, most of them are dreadful and horribly overpriced compared to their iPhone/Android equivalents and secondly, when Santa hopefully brings me an iPod Touch for Xmas I’ll be using that for most of my app useage, RSS, Podcasts, Music, Databases, Photos and games. I really don’t want to go through all that angst about trying frantically (and usually failing) to find replacements apps of a sufficiently good quality for Symbian.
What else can I say about the E72 from such a short period of ownership? I was a bit surprised by its weight, I was expecting it to be lighter but that does at least make it feel very solid. Call quality is good. I like the optical dpad set up but you do sometimes flick it by mistake and end up somewhere else. It can be disabled if you can’t hack it though. There’s no inbuilt threaded SMS, which is poor and the SMS app again looks really basic. I really think Nokia, or whoever it is who owns the Symbian S60 software, needs to give it more than just a spit and polish as it is really looking dated. The E72 is quick though, has over 250mb of space to store new apps on and when up and running has about 45mb available to actually run apps in. To date, I’ve not noticed any slowdown and have not needed to close any running apps so it looks like the device is handling memory quite efficiently. It is a solid if rather unexciting device but then again, that may just be exactly what some are after.
More on the E72 over the next few days.