Nokia has been at the forefront of moves to provide business-grade Wi-Fi enabled phones with its E-series. The E61 has become ubiquitous amongst those using and demonstrating voice on Wi-Fi.
The E65 is this year's model. It's not as fancy as the N95, a geek toy famous for getting Vodafone's knickers in a knot, but like that phone, it comes with built in VoIP, as well as a lot of other features.
Look and feel
This phone has become less corporate than the earlier models. In fact it could be described as a slim, sliding "fashion phone".
Slider phones may lack the serious look of the qwerty thumb-board, but it's actually a good compromise between weight, screen estate and keyboard size. The screen is truly lovely (QVGA, TFT, 240x320 pixels, 34x45 mm, 16 million colours)., a usable numeric keypad slides out from under the screen, and the whole thing is 105x49x15.5 mm, weighing 115g. For anyone who hasn't used a slider, phone companies have worked out how to integrate the keypad lock with the slider, making it an easy matter to turn the phone on or off.
The back of the phone is a contoured soft plastic which my daughters described as "leather". It feels good in the hand, but is susceptible to scratches. Nokia provides a slightly camp-looking soft bag with a red drawstring to keep the phone safe.
The phone functions are handled by sensible buttons: red and green to start and end calls, and dedicated buttons for conferencing, contacts and to turn the microphone off and on. There's also a navigation button in the middle, two soft keys and an "Own" key programmable to do whatever you want.
There's also a set of dedicated buttons for a voice recorder on the side of the phone, which are very well engineered, but a complete waste of space. The recorder is limited to one minute, apparently because Nokia didn't add extensions to the S60 OS - a pathetic omission after going to the effort of adding sound recorder keys.
There are ports at the bottom for headset/data and for power (I like to have separate power and headset ports, so I can make long calls while typing without the phone dying).
Cameras are no longer forbidden for corporate phones (thanks at least in part to the Blackberry Pearl), so it includes a pretty decent 2 Mpixel number, with decent video abilities. There's no lighting options, but the camera was good enough for my daughters to quickly fill the available memory (50 Mbyte) with delightful images. Anyone planning to make much use of the camera should get a large capacity microSD card, install it inside the phone, and change the default location of imaging files to the card.
You have to take the back off to get at the microSD card, but you don't have to remove the battery, so it is hot-swappable, a decent compromise between the ability to change a card, and the danger of losing it or getting gunk in the slot.
For any phone, there's a compromise between size, features, battery life and software - or at least the ability to use the given software. This phone starts out with the solid Symbian S60 platform and pushes it in the right directions to make a very good fist of that compromise. We found it stayed charged for around two days of normal usage (about an hour's phone calls a day).
Intellisync email works well. It's a very Blackberry-like solution, and synchs calendar and contacts with a remote site. Not having a corporate Exchange server, I had my email synched to an account at Nokia, which I could also synch to an Outlook email client on my desk.
I'm normally a Google webmail user, but the Intellisync email inbox was way easier to use on a mobile device. Microsoft documents downloaded to the device could be viewed and edited very well - a feature that some say Nokia has delivered better than Microsoft's own Windows Mobile OS. The phone uses the QuickOffice suite.
The Nokia Web browser is good, but again, Nokia failed to update it beyond version 1.0 - which luckily enough is still one of the best mobile browsers we've met - to the extent that Google mail is fine to use, and even not-very-mobile-centric websites, such as (ahem) Techworld's own, were usable. Zooming in and out of a web page is easy and it is possible to navigate on a thumbnail of the whole page with practice.
Wi-Fi works well with a good wizard and the ability to store and remember networks, much as the E61 does, supporting security by WEP, WPA and WPA2. There's also a solid, sensible Bluetooth with all the most useful profiles.
VoIP is well supported: it's possible to set the phone to prefer cellular or Internet calls, and to select which to use at the start of the call. We set up Truphone on the phone, and it worked very well.
The phone has a "Team Suite" application which lets you create groups with shared web bookmarks, and makes it easy to set up conference calls and send messages to them.
Overall, a sensible phone which I could grow to like. Battery life is shorter than I'm used to with a non-Wi-Fi, non-3G phone, but it's very practical to use.
Over prolonged use, a big disadvantage emerged: the phone's charger is shoddy. The one provided wore out, and so did one I had left from a previous phone. These are cheap to replace on eBay, but it is disappointing.
The phone has, however fought off competition from the Sony Ericsson P1i for instance, simply because the implementation of GoogleMail is good.
This is a powerful phone that works well. If you prefer a numeric pad to a qwerty, and have reason to use Wi-Fi on your phone, it's well worth a look.