Look at the E72 and you’ll like it. Handle the E72 and you’ll love it. Nokia’s $419 (unlocked, no contract) E72 follows in the footsteps of the lovable E71 with a rock-solid steel chassis built for the businessman. It also hides a hideous and complex operating system in sore need of an update, but it’s still worth a definite look for S60 devotees and those who don’t demand iPhone-like ease of use.
Although it can’t quite compete with the likes of the do-it-all N97, Nokia’s E72 includes an enviable feature set tailored for the business professional. That means a full QWERTY keyboard, QVGA (320 x 480) display, 3.5G HSDPA modem that can push up to 10.2Mbps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, A-GPS, FM tuner, voice-command capability, and a 5.0-megapixel camera with flash.
Like most of Nokia’s late-model smartphones, the E72 uses Symbian OS 9.3, with Nokia’s S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 (also known as S60 3.2.3), as a user interface.
At first glance, you might mistake the E72 for any of one of the more pedestrian BlackBerry models, but get closer, and Nokia’s attention to detail immediately sets it apart as something different. It’s as much a tool as a work of art. Bright chrome runs around the edges in broad strips, loops around buttons and the speaker in subtle accents, and carries over to a magnificent rear battery cover that could double as a mirror if it weren’t corrugated with fine, etched pinstripes, like the ones you might find on a Zippo lighter or flask. If BlackBerrys are built for a suit pocket, the E72 is meant for a tuxedo, taking class up yet another notch. The only mar on this otherwise gorgeous design would be the rear camera, which bulges out significantly, ruining the otherwise clean look a bit.
The screen and keyboard occupy about the same space up front, with a jumble of Nokia-specific keys (including hard shortcuts to calendar, e-mail and contacts) filling in the middle. The center directional pad on the E72 departs from previous models by working in two ways: You can either press the raised edges, or drag a finger lightly across the black middle key, which works as an optical trackpad. Nokia calls it the “Navi Key.”
The right-hand side has separate volume up and down keys, along with a voice key for access to applications and contacts without typing (more on that later). The other side has a sealed-up microUSB port, and one of the most deeply recessed and therefore hard-to-use microSD slots we’ve ever found (unless you have long nails, you’ll need a key or pen to pop cards in and out). Up top, you’ll find a centered power button and standard 3.5mm stereo jack for headphones. The bottom offers another tiny charging port for accepting the pin-sized connector from Nokia’s charger, but fortunately, you don’t necessarily need to use it because E72 can also charge from USB, just not as quickly.
Nothing exudes strength quite like steel, and the E72 has been absolutely wrapped in it. From the edges to the rear battery cover, the E72 feels industrial-grade, with a weight and solid feel that even the iPhone cannot match. Like a cobblestone, we found ourselves idly handling it even when we had absolutely no use for it. This is what a device you’ll carry with you every day should feel like.
Nokia’s comprehensive E72 box includes the usual headset, charger and data cable, along with quite a few unexpected extras. For instance, you’ll find a black microfiber cloth for keeping the phone smudge-free (good luck with that), two extra pairs of ear gels for the headphones, a lanyard, and even a sleek leather case. All in all, it’s one of the more comprehensive cell phone packages we’ve ever had a chance to unwrap.