I’ve been playing with the Nokia E73 Mode for a few days now and I want to share with you what I think. It’s 2010 and we’re already used to seeing phones with large touchscreens, but it looks like Qwerty-only devices from Nokia aren’t going away anytime soon. The E73 Mode launches for T-mobile USA on June 16th, 2010 for $69.99 with 2-yr contract.
- Nokia E73
- Nokia High Efficiency Charger AC-10U
- Mobile Charger DC-6
- Nokia MicroUSB data cable CA-101D
- Nokia Headset WH-205
- Pouch CP-384
- T-Mobile Getting Started Guide
- T-Mobile Tips & Tricks
- T-Mobile Terms & Conditions
- T-Mobile SIM card
- Recycle bag
Design. Nokia’s design team did a really good job with the Nokia E73. I think it’s beautiful! The shiny titanium strip visible around the edge of the phone complements the glossy display and buttons on the front. If you look closer at the back, you can see that Nokia paid attention to details. The large stainless steel battery door have tiny laser-etched dots and the chrome strip around the 5mp camera lens have a pinstripe pattern that looks cool.
Size. The Nokia E73 is thin, making it very comfortable inside the pocket. On paper, it’s 4.48 x 2.03 x .40 inches. I’m even more amazed when I take out the 1500mAh battery and see what’s left of the hardware. The E73 will be the thinnest full QWERTY keyboard smartphone available from T-Mobile.
Build Quality. Nokia’s Eseries line is known for its build quality. The Nokia E73 is built like tank. A problem with a similar model, the Nokia E72, was the battery cover. You could close and lock, but it still moved around when pushed. The Nokia E73 does not have that problem. For a really thin device, it feels solid.
Internals. Inside the Nokia E73 Mode is an ARM 11 microprocessor clocked at 600 MHz with 128MB RAM. It’s basically the same internals as the Nokia E72 that was released during the third quarter of last year. A major difference is that the Nokia E73 supports the frequency band for 3G on T-mobile USA. I wish Nokia provided more RAM because I encountered some out-of-memory messages when running Gravity and browsing the web. I should mention that I haven’t seen those messages when Gravity wasn’t running. The Nokia E73 provides 250MB for internal storage and a 4GB MicroSD card for external storage. You can replace this with 16GB if you need more space.
Display. The Nokia E73 Mode has a 2.4 inch display with 320 x 240 pixels resolution. That’s a pixel density of 166.67 according to this PPI calculator. Let’s compare it to other devices:
- Apple iPhone 3GS: 165 PPI
- Nokia N97: 210 PPI
- Blackberry Bold 9700: 246 PPI
- Nokia N900: 267 PPI
- Apple iPhone 4: 330 PPI
The more pixels you have in an inch, the more information they can represent, and so the clearer and sharper the picture. As you can see, the Nokia E73 doesn’t have the sharpest display.
Keyboard. The Nokia E73 is a very compact device, but the Qwerty keypad is surprisingly good. The buttons are small and those with huge fingers might have problems, but the curves on each individual button gives users a good distinction between letters. The tactile feedback feels great too.
Some users might complain about the shortcut buttons to email, messaging, phonebook, and calendar. These are flushed with the display, left-right soft keys, and the call buttons. The tactile feedback is there, but they are close to each other and the thumbs don’t feel any separation. I think Nokia put appearance before functionality on this part of the device, but I actually like it. The spacebar can also be a problem since it only takes up the size of 2 buttons instead of the 4 found on the previous Nokia E71.
Cool shortcuts. The E73 has three cool shortcuts that I wanted to point out. Holding and pressing certain labeled buttons gives you a access to the flashlight, bluetooth on/off switch, and silent mode.
Optical Navi key. Call me old-fashioned, but the Navi key just annoys me. By default, you can navigate through the menu by brushing your thumb across the center pad. It’s great that you can change its sensitivity, but I chose to turn it off after several accidental brushes. The classic directional pad worked fine for me.
Speakers. Call quality is clear on all the calls I’ve placed and received in the past few days. I can use some more volume though because the maximum setting isn’t very loud. On the music-front, the speakers are reasonably loud and have nothing to complain about.
Camera. The Nokia E73 Mode doesn’t have Carl Zeiss lens found on Nokia’s higher-end devices but it features a 5 megapixel camera. The photos are very good if there’s enough light and you hold still. However, the photo quality aren’t noticeably as nice as the ones taken from the Nokia N97 or a Nokia N86. It packs an LED flash for those dark environments, but I would most likely bring a different camera or cameraphone for those nights out.
I don’t like how autofocus is handled on the Nokia E73. There’s no dedicated camera button, but that’s not my complaint. If you have the Navi key turned on, you place your thumb on top of the center pad to autofocus, then press the button to take the photo. Since I turn off the Navi key, autofocus is handled differently. You press the button and the camera will autofocus on the center object then take the photo. There’s no way to focus on an object first then reframe the subject. On the Nokia E72, which is basically almost the same hardware, holding and pressing the center pad acquires autofocus, while releasing the button snaps the photo. I would like that on the Nokia E73 too!
On a positive note, the Nokia E73 provides advanced photo settings like exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, and even a built-in panoramic camera mode.
The Nokia E73 shoots video at 640 x 480 pixels resolution at 15 fps. That’s not something to be excited about, but this device wasn’t designed to be a multimedia powerhouse. You can also use the LED flash to use as light during recording.
The Nokia E73 runs on Symbian S60 3rd Edition FP2. If you’ve been on this site before, you’re most likely already familiar with the OS. The UI looks a little dated compared to Android, Maemo, and iPhone OS, but we’re not here to argue about that.
Switch Mode. This isn’t new for the Eseries, but T-mobile decided to name the E73 after this feature. You can customize the shortcut icons, themes, wallpapers, and more for each mode. With one click you can switch between personal life and work. The idea sounds good at first, but it’s actually hard for me to draw a line between personal life and work. I prefer to stick to one mode and customize it for my needs.
Email. Out of the box, the Nokia E73 Mode makes it easy to set up and access email. Nokia says it supports 90% of business email clients. From the home screen, you click on set up e-mail and fill out the missing information. What surprises me is that there’s no support for Nokia Messaging! That means no push email for my Google Apps email account. Text-only is the default view, but emails in HTML can be viewed with an extra click inside the app. There’s also section in the homescreen that you can hover and a preview new emails.
Browsing. Browsing isn’t something to praise about on the Nokia E73 once we’ve already experienced handheld devices with large touchscreens. Mobile versions of websites work better on this device and I’m glad most sites have mobilized by now. Flash Lite 3.0 is supported, so embedded Youtube videos play within the browser, too.
Music. Instead of owning music albums or downloading music, I prefer discovering new songs by streaming via last.fm or Pandora. Fortunately, there’s an app for that on Symbian. It’s called Mobbler. The traditional way of listening works fine as well. I transferred an album via bluetooth from my Macbook and it showed up in the music library. It’s worth noting that Internet Radio was not included. This is a cool app that was added on the latest firmware update on the E72.
Ovi Maps. Free voice-guided drive and walk navigation is included with the Nokia E73 Mode. This feature is expected on most upcoming Nokia devices, and I’m glad T-mobile did not choose to remove it. What sucks is that they require you to fill out an online redemption form to get the free phone holder mount and plate. They should’ve just included with the sales packaging.
Ovi Store. The Nokia E73 Mode offers integrated T-mobile billing, and you can choose from thousands of free or paid apps and other content from the Ovi Store. During my time with the E73, Nokia wasn’t done transferring over the compatibility settings. Some of my favorite apps like the full version of Gravity, Shazam, and Boingo aren’t available for download yet. I’ll assume this will be fixed by June 16th when the device officially launches.
T-Mobile Stuff. I’m glad that T-Mobile didn’t mess with the Nokia E73 too much. They added a Downloads section that competes with Nokia’s Ovi Store, a free IM app that actually works fine, demo of TeleNav that competes with Ovi maps, and game demos that can be fully purchased from their own Downloads store. They also customized the power on/off animations. In terms of software, I’m not sure there’s anything else that makes the E73 different from an unlocked Nokia E72. It just sucks that the Nokia Messaging service isn’t included.
The Nokia E73 includes a 1500mAh battery. It is charged though the micro-USB port. It is rated to handle 6 hours of WCDMA talk time and WCDMA standby time up to 22 days. While most of the other phones I use need to be charged nightly, the Nokia E73 Mode doesn’t warn me to recharge until midway of the following day.
The Nokia E73 Mode is a beautiful Qwerty phone for T-mobile USA customers at a subsidized price. It costs $69.99 with a 2-yr contract.
I’m currently waiting for Nokia or T-mobile to provide pricing without the contract. Full price without contract is $299.99.
It may not have the best video recorder or provide the best web browsing experience, but the the Nokia E73 features an excellent keyboard, great email and messaging, free voice navigation, and a good 5 megapixel camera in a good-looking compact design. It offers a lot of bang for the buck.