Nokia E5 review: Textbook texter

GSMArena team, 20 August 2010.

5-megapixels on fixed focus

The Nokia E5 is equipped with a 5 megapixel fixed-focus camera for a maximum image resolution of 2592 x 1944 pixels. It has a LED flash but no lens protection whatsoever. This means that the glass covering the lens is prone to finger smudges and perhaps occasional scratches.

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Camera interface

The camera is the first 5MP snapper without autofocus we’ve seen so far. The E5 is not a camera phone by any means, it’s what you use when you’ve forgotten your point and shoot camera.

As far as settings go, the camera on the E5 offers several scene presets, one of which is user defined. There's limited control over light sensitivity (it has low, medium, high and auto settings) as well as some control over sharpness and contrast.

The bar on the right side of the screen hosts a set of shortcuts to various camera settings. You can add and remove shortcuts so you can have quick access to the settings that matter to you – adding to a total of 16 viewfinder shortcuts.

The rest of the settings include flash control, self-timer (2, 10, 20 seconds), night mode, automatic panorama mode and multi shot.

There's also a Sequence mode to let you capture consecutive images at a predefined interval (from 10 seconds to 30 minutes).

The image quality is below the best of the 5MP range but still, the Nokia E5 produces, some quite usable photos. The contrast and color rendering are good and the amount of captured detail is decent. However, the produced images are quite noisy, which combined with the sharpening algorithm, produces jagged edges. The noise reduction algorithm also has a tendency to smear out areas of low contrast.

The major missing feature – autofocus – becomes apparent when you try to take a macro shot. Anything closer than 50cm is a no-go.

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Nokia E5 camera samples

Synthetic resolution

We also snapped our resolution chart with the E5. You can check out what that test is all about here.

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Nokia E5 resolution chart photo • 100% crops

Video recording

As for video recording, the Nokia E5 shoots in VGA resolution at 15 fps. Videos are MPEG-4 encoded. Although the specs sound decent, the quality is quite poor actually. The compression is dialed a bit too high, which brings the effective resolution down, and the modest framerate brings down the quality even further.

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Video recorder interface

Here’s a video sample from the Nokia E5 – VGA@15fps.

Good connectivity

The Nokia E5 has all the connectivity basics covered – quad-band GSM/EDGE make sure that if there’s a GSM network around you can connect to it. Tri-band 3G is also available and offers blazing fast speeds – 10.2Mbps HSDPA and 2Mbps HSUPA.

The E5 has Bluetooth covered too – v2.0 with A2DP – and also Wi-Fi b/g (no 802.11n support though). You can also tick the UPnP and DLNA checkboxes.

The microUSB port can be used both for charging and for data connections. In the case of the Nokia E5, this will probably be the quickest way to transfer a few files to the microSD card, since it’s hidden under the battery.

The browser is great, the screen not so much

Browsing the Internet on the Nokia E5 is as good as it gets on a non-touch phone. Even the most elaborate pages are rendered well.

For navigation you get a virtual mouse cursor and a mini-map, which can help you find your way around large sites where lots of scrolling is required. The mini-map activates automatically if you scroll longer, and you can use it as an overview.

The zoom level is also easily adjustable and searching for text on a page is straightforward. Scrolling, panning and zooming are fast in all but the most complex pages.

The large amount of RAM (256MB in this case) though means that you’re unlikely to get any “Out of memory” error even for content-rich websites.

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The very good web browser downed by the small display

The browser offers goodies like visual history, form and data saving and multiple tabs –there is no way to open a new tab however, unless the web page opens a pop-up. This is an old problem with the Symbian browser and we’re not getting our hopes up for it to get fixed before Symbian^3.

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YouTube video playing in the browser • the video playing in fullscreen

The Symbian browser has had Flash support for ages and the Nokia E5 is not an exception. Though the small screen makes viewing less than ideal and the performance is not as smooth as we would have liked. You’ll be better off using the dedicated YouTube app.

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The YouTube app is easier to work with

The setback of the Nokia E5 web browser is a hardware problem, not a software one. At only 2.36 inches and QVGA resolution, the smallest fonts aren't always readable and you have to go for larger ones. This in turn limits the amount of text that can fit on screen and will force you to scroll even more.