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Nokia E90 Communicator

Discontinued
12th February 2007

Read our review of the Nokia E90 Communicator here or watch the video review here.

 Nokia E90 Communicator Open

 Nokia E90 Interface

 E90 keyboard

The Nokia E90 Communicator is the latest in a long line of communicator devices, and is the replacement for the Nokia 9500 which was announced three years ago.

 Nokia E90 To say that the E90 is "long awaited" would be an understatement. One of the weaknesses of the 9500 and the 9300 and 9300i devices derived from it was a lack of 3G support, and the E90 now adds that. But it's more that just a port of the old Communicator platform to 3G, the Nokia E90 also adds a GPS receiver and integrated navigation application, a 3.2 megapixel camera, FM radio and a significantly improved screen. As with the 9500, the Nokia E90 retains WiFi support and has a full QWERTY keyboard (although the keyboard has been improved in the E90).

  

The Communicator series of devices have always had the unfortunate nickname of "the brick", and the Nokia E90 continues in that tradition. At a hefty 210 grams, the E90 is actually 20 grams lighter than the 9500, but 38 grams heavier than the 9300i. Nokia have done a remarkable job with size though - when viewed from the front (see left), the E90 is about the height and thickness of the compact 9300/9300i while retaining the same width as the 9500 at 132 x 57 x 20mm.

Inside the E90 is a display with an impressive 800x352 pixels resolution in 16 million colours, not unlike the panel on the Nokia N800, this is up from 640x200 pixels on the earlier models. The external display is now 240x320 pixels (up from 128x128), and pretty much all of the E90's functions can be controlled from the front cover, rather than the 9500/9300/9300i which allowed access to basic phone functions only. The 800 pixel wide display is ideal for no-compromise web access, although it doesn't have touchscreen support.

 Nokia E90 opening Of course, the E90 bears the "Communicator" name for a reason, and it comes with a wide range of communications options. Email support includes standard SMTP/POP3 protocols, various push email options, instant messaging and it even comes with a text-to-speech reader. Network support is quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) plus 2100 MHz UMTS (3G), GPRS and EDGE. Significantly, the Nokia E90 does include HSDPA support allowing for download speeds of up to 3.6Mbit/sec. On top of this the E90 comes with 802.11g WiFi. It's hard to fault the E90 in terms of the networks it supports, but one omission is the ability to work with UMTS networks on anything other than the 2100 MHz band, which limits its 3G use in the US and some other countries.

More controversially, the Nokia E90 includes a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and flash. Many business do not like cameras in their business phones, and for some it was an issue with the 9500 (which had a VGA resolution camera) which was resolved with the camera-less 9300. There's also a secondary camera for video calling.

 Nokia E90 interface One very significant change from the 9500 is under the hood. This is a Symbian S60 (Series 60) smartphone, rather than the Series 80 operating system on the 9500 and 9300. Although this seems like a step backwards (because Series 80 was written specifically for this type of device), S60 support gives E90 users access to a much wider range of applications. Nokia 9500 users should adjust quickly to the new interface.

As with previous models, the Nokia E90's software capabilities are impressive. It includes a document editor called Quickoffice, can view Microsoft Office documents, work with Zip files and PDFs and there's a comprehensive set of  Nokia E90 Communicator in use Personal Information Management tools. Because this is an S60 device, more applications can be added.. although most will need to be adapted for the E90's display.

Another important feature is the Nokia E90 Communicator's inbuilt GPS function. This allows for more than just basic location-based services, as Nokia are going to make it's "Nokia Maps" application available. Although this seems to be a free SatNav (satellite navigation) package, it's worth remembering that a lot of the value added features require a network connection which might incur data costs.

On top of all the other features, the Nokia E90 Communicator is also a multimedia phone, with support for MP3 and AAC audio plus video clips. There's even an FM radio. Data and media clips can be stored on microSD cards with a maximum capacity of 2GB.

Did we mention that it makes phone calls? Because the thing with the Nokia E90 Communicator is that it is essentially a tiny handheld computer rather than a phone.. although, of course it does work exactly as you'd expect. Talktime on GSM is quoted at up 5 hours with a maximum of 14 days standby. Of course, Bluetooth, WiFi and 3G use will shorten that time.

Nokia say that the E90 will initially be available during Q2 2007 with full production coming onstream in Q3, although from past experience we wouldn't be surprised if it was late. All of this technology comes at a price, at the E90 will cost around 800 / 500 / $1000 before tax and subsidy, around the same cost as the 9500 at launch.

In conclusion, the Nokia E90 Communicator is possibly the most feature packed handset we've even seen with surprisingly few compromises. It's big for a phone, but tiny for a GPS enabled multimedia computer. At Mobile Gazette, we've been a big fan of the Communicator series, and you can bet that we'll be eager to get our hands on this latest incarnation.

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Nokia E90 Communicator at a glance

Available:

Q2-Q3 2007

Network:

GSM 850/900/1800/1900 + UMTS 2100

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSDPA + WiFi

Screen:

800x352 pixels, 16m colours (main)
240x320 pixels, 16m colours (sub)

Camera:

3.2 megapixels (main)
0.1 megapixels (sub)

Size:

Large-wide clamshell
132 x 57 x 20mm / 210 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Memory card:

MicroSD

Infra-red:

Yes

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Yes

Battery life:

5 hours talk / 14 days standby

 

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