Nokia E72 phone: With business users in mind

About a year ago on the sidelines of the GSM Mobile Congress in Barcelona, I was talking to a Nokia executive at their stand. As we were both yelling to make ourselves heard above the ambient din, the executive who had put his (Nokia, what else!) phone on the table , got an incoming ring tone. He turned it over and it muted into silence. It was an experimental model he explained, one with a built-in accelerometer that sensed how he placed or held the phone. One effect was that it sensed when he shifted from “Portrait” to “landscape” mode and adjusted the display accordingly. A second benefit: he could programme the phone so that it went into silent mode when he turned it upside down. 'That’s one cool feature I’d like to have', I said: How often during meetings, we want to mute our phones and if you are like me, that involves putting on my spectacles and fumbling to find the right menu, with others in the room, frowning in disapproval.

I am thrilled to find, therefore, that this feature has now made the transition from research to product: it is just one the things that helps Nokia’s new E72 smart phone, attract the business user… while adding a lot of other features that build on the earlier E 71 model.

This is not one of those lifestyle models with large screens and touch controls – Nokia has those but realizes that these features are not top of the list for corporate users who want their hand sets to bridge the gap between a connected laptop and a basic voice device.

So screen size is sacrificed ( though 2.36 inches in landscape is not bad) for a full QWERTY keyboard and an optical trackpad. The quad band full 3-G GSM phone has built-in GPS and WiFI.. the latter can be very useful when one is in a hotel or airport hotspot and wants to download a heavy attachment, which can be a purse-busting exercise if tried through the service provider’s own broadband.

Bluetooth, FM, a 5 MP camera and 250 MB of memory, might seem almost standard in a phone of this class, but what for me, distinguishes the N72 among business and productivity phones, is the software that makes the handling of multiple email accounts fairly easy – even while throwing in QuickOffice 5.3, which supports Microsoft’s Office 2007, as well as LotusNotes (Traveler edition).

They have not wasted space on fancy features like DivX or TV functions – this is a serious device. There is an Opti Navi key for fast scrolling but I did not find it particularly dramatic as an improvement. Maybe because  my fingers  work like they are all thumbs.

Nokia has thrown in some noise cancellation technology—always useful when using the phone in crowded places – and I can’t avoid a sneaky feeling of satisfaction in seeing them add a torch to the phone ( activated by the space bar). Remember, this was touted as something specially created for the entry level Indian phone from Nokia… for users like lorry drivers? Well now it would seem the rest of the world wants it too!

The E72 costs Rs 22,989 and for the targeted market this will not seem too much to pay for this combo of neat productivity features.

- Anand Parthasarathy, Feb 8 2010