Nokia’s E73 Mode is essentially a spruced up version of the E72, repackaged and sold through T-Mobile. Given the uncanny similarities, large parts of this review borrow directly from our earlier E72 review, but with pains taken to point out the differences between the two.
Look at the E73 and you’ll like it. Handle the E73 and you’ll love it. Nokia’s $70 (on T-Mobile with two-year contract) E73 follows in the footsteps of both its twin-like E72 and the lovable E71 before it 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 E73 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. Although it has only 250MB internal storage, Nokia includes a 4GB microSD card, and the phone can handle up to 16GB.
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. Shiny gunmetal runs around the edges in broad strips, loops around buttons and the speaker in subtle accents, and carries over to a magnificent rear battery etched with a fine cross pattern. 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.
You will notice a few marked differences from the E72 – if you look closely. That gunmetal finish used to be bright chrome. It gives the E73 a stealthier look than the E72, which sparkled enough to call some attention to itself. You’ll also find more metal on the chin than the E72, which had a plastic placeholder below the keyboard where steel now wraps around.
On the interface side, the E73 also knocks a row from the crowded three-row buttons that used to flank the center control pad. Dedicated home calendar, contact and e-mail keys remain, but now they share space beside other functions, rather than getting squeezed above and below them. Besides improving access, it makes the phone look less cluttered and intimidating, too.
As on the E72, the center directional pad works 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. You can see why Nokia has changed the design so little from the E71 to the E72 and E73. From the outside, it’s nearly flawless.
Nokia’s comprehensive E73 package includes the usual headset, charger and data cable, along with quite a few unexpected extras. You’ll find two extra pairs of ear gels for the headphones, a lanyard, a sleek leather case and most thoughtfully, a car charger.