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Nokia E66 reviewBy Philip Berne, Friday 20 June 2008
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Nokia E66
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Philip Berne takes a classy slider with business e-mail capabilities and AT&T 3G network support for a spin, in our in-depth Nokia E66 review.

Review summary of the Nokia E66:
Scoreboard »      Features »      Side-by-side »      Gallery »
Nokia E66 The Nokia E66 is a fine business phone, and a great, small alternative for users who want a slick design inside and out, paired with loads of great features. The phone has great options for business users, including Exchange server support and a robust Office suite, though not everything is as easy to use as it might be on a carrier-supported phone, and we found ourselves frequently searching for server settings, additional apps and instructions, all to get the phone working on this country's most popular carrier. Once all the settings were in place, we were continually surprised by how feature-rich and powerful this device can be. A little smoothing for U.S. buyers and a great unlocked price would make this a very compelling phone indeed. Release: July 2008. Price: $500.
Pros: Solid, classy design. Great keys. Live, while-you-type searching for contacts. Great Web browser.
Cons: Many features cost extra, like navigation and Quickoffice. Networking seemed slow in our tests. Could have more multimedia features, like the Nseries.
Poor
Mediocre
72%
GOOD
Very good
Excellent
Full Nokia E66 Review:
Design - Very good

The Nokia E66 is a very classy business slider. It has a tight feel to its shell, and it slides open with a smooth click. It doesn't have the seamlessness of a Samsung slider like the Helio Mysto, or even the Motorola Z6, and it isn't a small phone, but we liked the usability that the extra width added, and even the extra weight only served to make it feel solid. Besides the fantastic, brightly colored screen, the phone also features a very nice, comfortable keypad that was easy for typing, though it was only a numeric 12-key affair.

The interface is a re-skinned Symbian S60 design, so be prepared to dig through folders and enigmatic icons. The phone features a couple new design tricks, including an accelerometer that redraws the screen in portrait or landscape mode, depending on how the device is held. We didn't find this feature to be very useful, as it seemed like more of a parity update to compete with the Apple iPhone and Windows Mobile devices. More helpful was the fresh assortment of dedicated keys around the four-way button. Instead of the standard Symbian nonsense (check out the Nokia E65's keys for example), Nokia has wisely stuck with easily-recognized icons, including a Home key for the main menu, e-mail, address book and calendar.

Calling - Very good

Calls on the Nokia E66 sounded good, though we had some trouble with background noise on the busy streets outside our New York office. Indoors, however, the phone sounded fairly clean, and callers had no trouble understanding us. The phone has some nice address book features. We used the Nokia PC suite to synchronize with our Outlook Contacts, though the phone can also handle Exchange servers for e-mail, contacts and calendar entries. We especially liked being able to type a name from the home screen, from which the phone started narrowing a list of possible matches live, as we typed. This is our favorite way to handle contacts.

For calling features, Nokia once again stumbles on voice recognition. Though the Nokia E66 has a dedicated voice dialing button on the side, the speaker-independent voice dialing never once recognized our requests, a problem we've had with other Nokia devices in the past. Otherwise, conference calling worked well, and we had no trouble creating a four-way call from the phone. Bluetooth paired quickly with our headsets. The phone also features a speakerphone that is nice and clear, but not as pleasingly loud as the one we saw recently on the Nokia N78.

Messaging - Very good

The "E" in Nokia's Eseries stands for business (huh?), so the key selling point for the Nokia E66 might be the business-class e-mail apps. We had some trouble getting the Nokia Mail for Exchange program to work on our early-release unit, but we had no problems with the other e-mail features. The phone loaded our Gmail account automatically, and even defaulted to IMAP for Gmail, which we prefer. We even liked typing on the Nokia E66's soft touch keys. The keypad has a grippy surface that made tapping a breeze, and the keys were wide and nicely spaced for longer messaging sessions.

Unfortunately, like most Nokia unlocked phones we've seen, the E66 doesn't come with any pre-loaded instant messaging clients. Business users might not be as inclined towards IM, but at least an MSN client would have been nice. Even the useful Yahoo!Go program lacks access to Yahoo's IM service.

Scheduling and productivity - Very good

With Exchange ActiveSync support and some good synchronization software, the Nokia E66 is a real scheduling powerhouse. The calendar app is clean and attractive, with appointments that are easy to read quickly on the go. It can't do everything that Windows Mobile can, like inviting attendees to appointments (a feature we use often), but it looks better than most other scheduling apps on business smartphones today. For productivity, the Nokia E66 ships with Quickoffice for reading and creating office documents, including simple presentations, on the road. Unfortunately, our copy came unlicensed, so it seems like Nokia might want business users to fork over $70 or so for licensing fees, which is a shame.

Multimedia - Good

The Nokia E66 doesn't get the full multimedia treatment we saw on the Nokia N78, and we wonder why not? The changes would be simple. We would like to see a 3.5mm headphone jack instead of the E66's 2.5mm port. Stereo speakers would give the speakerphone a boost, as well as the music playback. Also, a more focused multimedia menu would mean quick access to the music player and other useful multimedia apps. The phone still packs an impressive music player, with customizable EQ settings and playlists that were easy to create. But these features seem too hidden, which is a shame because certainly the Apple iPhone has proven that business users want good music and video on their portable, as well. Still, the phone has support for stereo Bluetooth and comes packaged with a 2GB microSD card, so for a phone with business on the mind, it's still humming a tune.

Web Browsing - Very good

The Symbian S60 browser that Nokia uses with their high-end phone is one of the best on the market. We weren't blown away by the page loading speeds, even over the HSDPA network, but pages still loaded much faster than they would have over an EDGE connection. Once pages were loaded, the browser handled them with aplomb. Layout was nearly flawless in every page we checked, and the browser scrolled through long pages quickly, using the app's mini map as a guide. Going back and forth through the browser history was also a cinch with the slick-looking page snapshots that the browser keeps in memory.

Camera - Mediocre

The Nokia E66 uses a 3.2-megapixel sensor on its camera, with an auto focus lens, but images were still pretty lousy. Portraits lacked detail, especially around the edges. Lighting was problematic as well, and the camera couldn't manage a well-lit photograph even in our studio light box. There was a nice selection of options for sending and printing images, but we can't imagine wanting to pass these pictures along.

Navigation - Very good

The GPS sensor on the Nokia E66 was very sensitive, and found us in only a minute or so on the streets of Manhattan. Unfortunately, navigation and voice guidance cost extra on Nokia's unlocked devices, but Nokia Maps 2.0 is still a nice-looking piece of software. Browsing the point of interest database, we realized that someone should tell Nokia that the 2nd Avenue Deli hasn't been on 2nd avenue for years, but we're nitpicky New Yorkers, so this is more of a local grudge. In any case, Nokia Maps is still one of the smoothest, best looking navigation programs currently shipping on cell phones.

Laptop sidekick - Very good

It was difficult to find the correct settings for logging onto AT&T's network with the Nokia E66 as a tethered modem, but with some proper digging, we managed to get the feature working properly. Once our settings were customized, logging on was very easy with Nokia's One Touch Access software. Download speeds weren't so impressive. Even though the phone was surfing AT&T's 3G HSDPA network, we never managed to surpass 500Kbps downloads, and our speeds were usually about half that in our tests. This is still faster than EDGE and dial-up, and we're not ready to blame the phone over AT&T's network. Still, we've seen much faster.


Price and availability

The Nokia E66 will start selling for $500 ((Unlocked)) in July 2008.

Best Business smartphones
Name Score Price Carrier
C
HTC Touch Pro (Sprint) 77% $400Sprint
HTC Fuze 77% $300AT&T
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 76% $800Unlocked
HTC Touch Diamond (Sprint) 76% $350Sprint
RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 (T-Mobile) 75% $200T-Mobile
RIM BlackBerry Curve 8330 (Sprint) 74% $200Sprint
RIM BlackBerry Bold 9000 (AT&T) 74% $300AT&T
RIM BlackBerry Pearl 8130 (Verizon Wireless) 73% $170Verizon Wireless
Nokia E71 73% $500Unlocked
Nokia E66 72% $500Unlocked
Click here to see full and advanced chart »
 
 
 
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