Nokia E90 Long Term Test
16th January 2008
We've had the flagship Nokia E-Series
device for five months now, and we felt that it was
time to revisit the latest Communicator series device.
review covered the E90's more unusual capabilities,
but how would it stand up to the real world?
Nokia E90 Microphone Fault
Early versions of the Nokia E90 suffered
from two major microphone faults. One of them was a
buzzing noise that could sometimes be heard while in
call, the other more serious fault was a complete failure
of the microphone. Our Nokia E90 worked fine for five
months, but then the microphone failed completely and
Vodafone replaced the E90 under warranty (they didn't
even try to repair it). Our understanding is that the
return rate on the early E90s is as high as three out
of four units. This problem has apparently been resolved
in later models.
If you are having problems with the
microphone on your E90, then you should ask for a completely
new unit under warranty rather than a repair. The problem
appears to be a design defect.
How to tell early E90s from later models
It is very difficult to tell early E90s
apart from later ones. There are very few clues on the
E90s themselves to indicate that they are different.
very careful examination of the handsets does show that
there is a different board, just visible through the
casing. The newer E90 has part of the board marked "NR_14",
the older one is marked "12".
Note that the IMEI sequence has also
been updated, the original phone had an IMEI of 35365901105xxxx,
the newer one is IMEI 35365901377xxxx. Higher IMEI numbers
usually indicate a later manufacture date
Creaky Casing and Keyboard Problems
Early E90s suffered from creaky casing.
Our original E90 did have some creaky panels, the replacement
E90 did appear to have a slightly better construction.
Also, early on early E90s, the keyboard
would press slightly against the screen when closed
which would transfer greasy fingerprints, and sometimes
even damage the screen. We have seen reports that this
can be fixed at a Nokia Service Centre. They keyboard
can also be a bit fiddly to use.
Perhaps the most troublesome application
on the E90 is the mapping / navigation tool. This takes
a very long time to get a fix, has a number of annoying
bugs and most seriously seems to crash after using it
for an hour or so. This application received a significant
upgrade in the new firmware version 07.38.0.2,
but at the time of writing that is only available from
Nokia Service Centres.
The battery life can be hugely variable.
Often, we found that the battery was significantly depleted
after a couple of days of light use. The problem with
a highly sophisticated handset such as the E90 is that
there are so many features that can drain the battery
such as 3G, WiFi, GPS and leaving applications running.
One annoying feature is that the E90
cannot be charged via a USB cable - and connecting the
E90 to a PC seems to drain the battery very quickly.
All-in-all, you will probably want to make sure you
have access to a Nokia charger to make sure that your
E90 will keep running.
So is it a good phone?
Despite its flaws, the E90 has some
very strong points. In particular, the 800 pixel wide
display is excellent for web browsing and other applications.
The camera is good, video quality is excellent, and
multimedia playback is good enough for most people.
If in a business or home environement, it is very easy
to take the E90 out of your pocket, connect to the local
WiFi network and then connect to the internet.
The most significant competition comes
from Nokia itself with the N810
Internet Tablet. The N810 has a larger, touch-sensitive
screen and a much better web browser.. but it isn't
a phone, and it isn't compatible with standard Nokia
The E90 is likely to be phased out by
Q3 2008, and quite what Nokia will replace it with is
unknown. We know that Nokia will introduce touchscreen
phones this year, and a touchscreen Communicator would
be very welcome. The Communicator range has always been
a bit of a niche product, we certainly find it to be
a useful device.. but it's not for everybody.