Rollout: Nokia's E62 Smartphone

Designed to be Nokia's flagship for the enterprise, the E62 has the ability to work with a multitude of messaging platforms but lacks WLAN support.

November 3, 2006

6 Min Read
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With the release of its E62 Smartphone, Nokia is hoping its thin, rugged and messaging-platform-agnostic handheld will help the company grab a bigger piece of the U.S. smartphone pie. An internationally recognized name in the consumer phone market, Nokia has yet to gain a foothold in corporate America. The Symbian operating system, which powers Nokia's smartphones, also is common for most of the rest of the world, with almost a 70 percent market share globally, but less than 10 percent here.

Although the E62, available through Cingular, isn't quite a BlackBerry killer, it packs a lot of flexibility into a small size. Its compatibility with multiple messaging platforms would make the E62 a lower-cost alternative for enterprises with various e-mail systems that are looking to standardize on one device.There Vs. Here

Nokia's E62, a quad-band GSM world phone, supports Cingular's EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) network, and is a stripped-down version of the E61, which is widely available in Europe. The E61 includes wireless LAN connectivity, VoIP capability, and support for next-generation wireless broadband networks.

We were disappointed when the U.S. version arrived without WLAN support. The E62 also doesn't take advantage of Cingular's burgeoning UMTS/HSDPA (Universal Mobile Telecommuniations System/High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) data network. Although these omissions help reduce the device's cost and ensure that the customer uses Cingular's wireless data packages, they also prevent the E62 from making use of an enterprise's existing wireless infrastructure. Most high-end Windows Mobile devices offer at least a basic wireless LAN adapter.

ComparisonClick to enlarge in another window

The E62 has the fit and finish Nokia customers expect. In our testing, the battery performance was excellent and provided a week of steady e-mail and data usage. Solid construction, including a metal battery cover, makes the device feel almost indestructible. The keyboard has the same rugged feel as the rest of the housing, almost to a fault. However, typing on the E62's QWERTY keyboard is a bit uncomfortable--its very stiff keys require extra effort to type e-mail messages. The only positive outcome of Nokia's keyboard is that accidental keypresses, even when the device is in a pocket, are rare.In addition, the device is wide because of the thumbboard, so holding it to your ear looks and feels rather strange. Heavy talkers should take advantage of the E62's Bluetooth capability and use a wireless headset whenever possible. Once paired to the E62, the Bluetooth headset connected to the device almost immediately without a single glitch. Audio quality was excellent.

It's All About The E-mail

Nokia doesn't play favorites when it comes to supporting enterprise e-mail packages. The E62 brings a common interface to messaging, no matter which back end program it's connecting to.

Out of the box, the phone's messaging application supports POP3 and IMAP, but other connection types can be downloaded quickly. Installation is straightforward, though device setup will likely be handled by IT staff, not the end user. The E62 can adapt to handle any of several e-mail packages, including Research In Motion's BlackBerry Connect, Server ActiveSync with Microsoft's Exchange 2003, as well as Good Technology's Good Mobile Messaging and Cingular's own Xpress Mail. You'll have to choose, though; each device can support only one of these connections at a time.

However, even though the E62 works with a multitude of e-mail platforms, it doesn't support each system's full set of options. With BlackBerry Connect, for example, the E62 can only synchronize e-mail. A true BlackBerry device also can wirelessly synchronize contacts and calendar with the server. This is a common problem for all third-party devices that use BlackBerry Connect, but it does put the E62 at a disadvantage compared with RIM's own devices.Open For Business

As a member of the "Nokia for business" product line, the E62 comes ready to work. Using the included Nokia PC suite and the included USB cable or a PC's Bluetooth adapter, we found it easy to synchronize an enterprise Outlook calendar and address book.

The E62 also comes with word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tools. Each application is directly compatible with its Microsoft Office PC counterpart. Although the E62 won't replace your PC, you can use it for lightly editing documents while on the road. Unfortunately, editing and sending files over e-mail depends on the messaging service you use. The Mail for Exchange application lets you save and attach files right on the device, for example, but BlackBerry Connect only lets you view attachments and does not allow document manipulation. The preloaded applications handled just about all the file formats we threw at it, and only broke down when processing large, multiple-page spreadsheets. In most cases, these tools performed at least as well as the Pocket Office programs available on devices running Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform. Preloading this set of applications also gives the E62 an advantage over BlackBerry devices, which requires a third-party application to edit Word and Excel documents.

Nokia took a unique approach with the E62's built-in Web browser. Unlike other mobile browsers, which cram an entire page onto a small display, the E62's browser displays a portion of the page, zoomed to a readable size. A thumbnail view appears when a user is scrolling, and this makes it effortless to move around the whole page. Web surfing was a surprisingly comfortable experience, with navigation handled by the E62's joystick and an on-screen cursor.

The only real concern we had with running and using the E62 was a consistent hesitation when loading and using most of the applications. Nokia provided no explanation for this performance hiccup, but we suspect it was a deliberate trade-off between processor power and battery life.The E62 is an excellent introduction for Nokia into the corporate sector. With support for all major messaging solutions, it's probably compatible with your enterprise's e-mail system. Although we'd like snappier performance and the connectivity options of its European sibling, the functionality and form factor of the E62 still make it a viable alternative to the other wireless devices available today.

Michael Brandenburg is the systems administrator for a machine manufacturer in neenah, wis. Write to him at [email protected].

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