Nokia E52 review: E as in Exceptional

GSMArena team, 11 August 2009.
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Camera is a letdown

The Nokia E52 means business but imaging is not part of its job description. The 3 megapixel camera has only a LED flash and sadly, no autofocus. "Enhanced fixed focus" is here to cater for close-ups but as our tests have confirmed in the past, the new Nokia "catch-phrase" doesn't really mean you're getting more sharpness in close-ups or shorter minimal shooting distance.

Actually, the camera user interface is the only good part of the E52 snapper. Using our favorite tabbed interface, the camera offers extensive settings: from manual white balance and ISO sensitivity to exposure compensation, sharpness and contrast settings, as well as various effects which are labeled color tones.

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The camera user interface is pretty familiar

A gridline can also be applied to the viewfinder to assist you in framing you photos using the photographic rule-of-thirds. Using it to align your subjects and place points of interest on or near the lines and their intersecting points makes your photos more professional and aesthetic.

The sequence mode and self-timer are nothing new. The flash can be set to four positions: automatic, always on, red-eye reduction and always off.

Small font tooltips are displayed to help you understand what the phone is doing at each specific moment (processing image, for example).

You can also customize the toolbar deciding on shortcuts to display for which settings and in what order.

Image quality

The image quality is decent for a 3-megapixel shooter. Color rendering and contrast are good, but the dynamic range is not on par. Noise levels are low, but that is achieved through noise-reduction that smears away fine details and textures. The sharpening algorithm on the other hand is way too harsh and produces visible artifacts in the photo.

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Nokia E52 camera sample photos

The video recording doesn't improve our impressions of the E52. The business-minded handset manages VGA videos at 15 fps, which is far from stellar but is certainly better than what E71 and E66 offered.

The quality of the recorded video is not very good and even if 15 fps is acceptable to you, the E52 is not a camcorder. There's a fair bit of detail captured until of course it is periodically smeared by heavy compression when the bandwidth isn't enough.

Here is a sample video for you to check out.

Synthetic resolution

We also snapped our resolution chart with the Nokia E52. You can check out what that test is all about here.

Here's a comparison of the camera on the E52 and the one on the 5630 XpressMusic. The 5630 has a definite edge in resolved resolution. However, the processing in the E52 is better and doesn't introduce as many additional imperfections.

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Nokia E52 resolution chart photo • 100% crops

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Nokia 5630 resolution chart photo • 100% crops

Connectivity all-rounder

It's time to check out the connectivity options. This is a morale booster indeed for the E52 and it sure takes advantage.

The E52 is truly on fire where data transfer is in question - it just has it all: from Bluetooth v2.0 and USB v2.0 to Wi-Fi and 3G. Furthermore, the 3G comes with HSPA support for the fastest network data transfers - up to 10.2Mbps downlink and 2Mbps uplink.

A microSD card slot is also on board, under the battery cover. It might just be the quickest and most convenient way of transferring data.

The standard 3.5mm audio jack is also there and the only thing missing that we can think of is TV-out functionality.

Web browser does YouTube video

Browsing the internet on a Nokia smartphone is definitely a positive experience. The E52 is no exception with its excellent page rendering - most web pages look like they do on a desktop computer.

The virtual mouse cursor is easy to control and generally works great. The D-pad control is not as comfortable as Samsung's optical joystick (think Samsung i7110, for instance) or BlackBerry's trackball but still does the job.

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Browsing on the E52

A mini-map can be activated and it even appears by itself when you scroll longer, which helps you navigate complex websites without excessive scrolling. The zoom level is also easily adjustable at the expense of only a few key presses. The web browser also offers fullscreen view mode.

Along with the usual key shortcuts, the browser in E52 offers a toolbar, which can be launched by pressing 1 or long pressing on the center key on an empty area of the page. You can customize which shortcuts are on the toolbar - up to seven shortcuts like "Subscribe to feeds" or "Bookmark manager".

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The new toolbar

The Nokia E52 browser features built-in full Flash support. It handled many of the Flash sites we threw at it, but chocked on others (games most often). Flash content for version 9 and up seem to be the culprit.

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Flash video handled seamlessly

Flash video is mostly not a problem for the E52 web browser - you can watch video on the full-featured versions of YouTube and the like. Not all however, DailyMotion and Vimeo didn't work, for instance.

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