Nokia's E Series devices are predominantly targeted at business users, but the E52's subtle design will appeal to regular consumers as well. It doesn’t have a full QWERTY keyboard, but the Nokia E52 boasts outstanding battery life, a razor-thin design and great call quality.
Though more of a business device, Nokia's E52 smartphone certainly impresses in the looks department. It has an attractive silver finish with an etched rear battery cover, chrome edging and stylish keys. The surface is almost completely immune to fingerprints. At just 9.9m thin, the E52 is one of the most compact and lightweight mobile phones we've reviewed. Despite its miniscule frame, the E Series looks professional and the phone feels very well built.
The Nokia E52's display is straightforward, but it has decent viewing angles and its performance in direct sunlight is above average. Despite not possessing a QWERTY keyboard, the E52's regular numeric keypad is excellent. It features large, slightly raised keys that are easy to press but offer firm and reassuring tactile feedback. Many eyebrows will be raised at the fact a smartphone made primarily for e-mail features only has a standard numeric pad. However, those who are happy with a standard number pad layout will be suitably impressed.
The Nokia E52's other controls are a mixed bag. We like the five-way navigational pad, but although the rest of the buttons blend nicely into the phone’s design, they aren't as practical as they could have been. In particular, the home, calendar, e-mail and end keys are a little small and are positioned too close to the selection buttons above them and the answer and end call keys below.
A key feature of the E52 is the Nokia Messaging service, Nokia's e-mail application (it was first bundled with the Nokia E75). The Nokia Messaging service allows up to 10 e-mail accounts to be used on a single device. Improvements over the previous Nokia e-mail client include folder and HTML e-mail support, expandable views and sorting capabilities. Setting up a personal e-mail account, such as Gmail, Yahoo! or Windows Live mail, is a simple process of entering your username and password. We used a Yahoo! mail account for testing and instantly received our mail once the settings were entered. For corporate accounts, the process is a slightly longer seven steps but it makes set up as simple as possible. The Nokia E52 can synchronise your contacts and calendar information as well as e-mail; the service supports Mail for Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes Traveller mail, with no extra licensing fees or other costs.
The Nokia E52 runs the popular Symbian S60 OS, so it includes all the features and applications expected from a business smartphone, including the Quickoffice suite and an Adobe PDF viewer. Nokia's Ovi Store isn't preinstalled on the E52, but it can easily be downloaded. The Windows Messenger app comes preinstalled, but Facebook, MySpace and YouTube icons in the Internet folder are merely links rather than dedicated apps.
Like recent E Series phones, the E52 has the ability to switch between business and personal modes. You can edit a number of settings in each mode, including enabled applications, notifications and themes and can then toggle between the two. The familiar Symbian interface isn't as visually appealing as those of many competing smartphones, but the grid layout of the main menu and the list format for most submenus make it easy enough to use.
The Nokia E52 is a zippy smartphone that runs with minimal lag or slowdown, even when running multiple applications. The built-in accelerometer is quick to rotate the screen orientation when tilted.
The E52 includes a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and Nokia bundles the phone with a 1GB microSD card. The standard music player does a decent job of handling your tunes, and there is also an FM radio. The included 3.2-megapixel camera has a single LED flash, but its performance is below average, even for a mobile phone. Wi-Fi, built-in GPS, Bluetooth and HSDPA are predictably included.
Perhaps the best feature of the E52 is its battery life. Rated at up to six hours talk time and 432 hours standby time using a 3G network, the E52 was good enough to get us through two full days of use, even with hourly push e-mail turned on.
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