The Nokia E90 is a Symbian Series 60
phone rather than having the Symbian Series 80
operating system of the 9500. It's a simpler operating
system, but it does has some advantages of being more
The welcome screen on the E90 is the
same on the internal and external displays.
The main menu has a distinctive S60
feel about it too..
For comparison, the Nokia 9500 was somewhat
It's certainly smarter than the old
Nokia E90 User Interface
On the surface, the E90 looks much more
glossy. Underneath the software operates in a typical
S60 way using just two softkeys and the controller pad,
whereas the 9500 used a more PC-style user interface.
user interface on the internal display and external
display is very consistent. People used to other S60
devices will adapt to the E90 very easily, users of
the old 9500/9300/9300i devices will probably miss the
old menu structure.
Although for simple applications the
S60 interface is fine, for more complex ones (such as
web browsing) the limitations become clear. However,
the E90's interface is very responsive and indeed all
software operations are much quicker that on the old
Don't underestimate the importance of
consistency and the usefulness of the external display
on the E90. The 9500 was pretty useless until you opened
it up, but here the E90 gives to access to the full
range of features on both displays. And anyone who has
struggled with the inconsistent flip open/flip closed
interface on the Sony
Ericsson P990i will appreciate the ease of use this
Compare the same web browser menus on
the Nokia 9500 (below) and you'll see the difference
- the 9500 works just like a PC and it comes with a
dedicated menu button on the keypad. Keyboard shortcuts
are also well labelled.. again, if you're downscaling
from a laptop then the 9500 will have a more familiar
environment that has been somewhat lost on the E90.
What's more, the Nokia 770 and N800
use an interface that's closer the the 9500 than the
Nokia E90 mapping
The Nokia E90 downloads maps as it goes,
which is a free-of-charge service except for the data
costs involved. The E90 "swoops" down on your
position when you start the maps application, presumably
to give it some time to connect to the network and download
anything it needs.
Mapping on the external display is substantially
similar, it is essentially just a smaller view window
on the mapping appliction.
Navigation on the Nokia E90 Communicator
is a chargeable option. For example, a licence
for the Navigation software for Western Europe at the
time of writing is:
7 days = £6.00 (€9 approx)
30 days = £6.72 (€10 approx)
1 year = £60.50 (€90 approx)
3 years = £67.22 (€100 approx)
This may seem expensive, but if you
have a TomTom then a new set of maps for Western Europe
is around £100/€140 so there's an expensive there too.
The Navigation application works on
both the internal and external displays. In the picture
above, the map is at maximum zoom. You can tell that
the E90's Navigation application lacks the ease-of-use
of a dedicated unit such as a TomTom. And because the
E90 doesn't have a touchscreen, it is almost impossible
to use while on the move. However, the voice commands
are very good and overall it's not a bad application
to have on your phone, although you really will need
some sort of cradle to mount it on.
Nokia E90 Multimedia
As you'd expect, the Nokia E90 has both
audio and video playback capabilities. The audio player
is pretty straightforward to use, again the function
is identical whether the phone is open or closed. One
drawback is that the E90 could be a little louder, however
there's a standard jack plug for attaching headphones
(supplied in the box) or you could plug it into a set
The video player plays back MP4, 3GP,
MPEG-4, RV, RA and AMR formats. We found that poor quality
originals (especially anything "shaky") played
back poorly, but in the main video playback for most
clips was pretty good. Shown below are a 3GP clip from
the BBC, and a clip from Superman
at the Internet Archive (specifically this
version). One of the two clips shows an evil villain..
we'll let you decide which is which!
You can see a clip of the Nokia E90
playing the movie below. Note that the Internet Archive's
Image Collection has plenty of free movie downloads
suitable for playback on the E90.
The wide screen on the inside of the
E90 makes it ideal for playing back videos.. it's too
wide in many respects. It's also quite convenient to
have the E90 open on a desk or table when it's playing
back, something that's trickier to do with other phones.
The Nokia E90 Communicator has several
other applications in addition to the ones we've seen,
including a set of office applications called QuickOffice
which allow you to work with Microsoft Office files,
an email client plus interesting gadgets such as a barcode
scanner. Of course, the E90 comes with a comprehensive
set of personal information management tools too. Below
are some screenshots, we hope to cover the rest of the
applications at a later date.
One interesting feature with the Nokia
E90 is the ability to update the software using the
Nokia PC Suite. Although other phones have had this
for a while, this is the first time the end user has
been able to update their Communicator software in this