The Nokia E5 box is nothing out of the ordinary. You get all the basics you need – a charger (not the most compact of kinds), a short microUSB cable, a one-piece headset plus some manuals.
The modest set of accessories helps keep the price down. You do get a 2GB microSD card though – enough to get you started, but the E5 can take cards of up to 32GB.
The Nokia E5 is on the compact side of QWERTY messengers at 115 x 58.9 x 12.8 mm. The 2.36” landscape display, large controls (soft keys, call keys, etc.), and a spacious four-row QWERTY cover most of the phone’s front.
The Nokia E5 weighs in at 126 grams – it’s by no means too heavy – it’s more like “solid” than anything else.
The Nokia E5 fails to match the slim and sharp E71 but the width is just right to make it comfortable for both single and two-handed use. It’s a no-frills phone that doesn’t look or feel cheap.
The Nokia E5 is not an attention-grabber, but it doesn’t look out of place at work or at home either. The mature, no-nonsense looks can be traced back to the Nokia E63, which served as the prototype for the C3 too.
You should be careful comparing the E5 with top-tier messengers like E71 and E72. They’re obviously in different leagues. What’s important however is that the keyboard and the screen are just as good. The E5 is thicker and doesn’t use as much metal but still offers the solid quality feel that any business phone should.
The Nokia E5 is quite conservative in its choice of paintjobs. The phone is available in Carbon Black, Silver Grey and Chalk White. The Sky Blue and Copper Brown versions add a bit of color to the mix but nothing too flashy that could turn the business crowd away.
The front of the Nokia E5 is all matt plastic that won’t embarrass you by getting all smudgy and greasy. The back is plastic too, except for the battery cover, which is made of metal.
The landscape 2.36" 256K-color display of 320 x 240 pixel resolution takes half of the phone’s face. The QVGA resolution is the norm even for the high-ranking Eseries messengers but the image quality is surprisingly good. Better yet, sunlight legibility won’t let you down either.
Underneath the screen is a spacious navigation deck built around a reasonably tactile D-pad. There are three buttons on either side of the D-pad. Call and End knobs are at the bottom, the two soft keys on top. In between are the Home and Messaging keys.
The soft keys and the D-pad are user-configurable (depending on the homescreen mode). All controls are decently sized and quite comfortable to use.
Speaking of buttons, it’s time to take a closer look at the full QWERTY keyboard. The keys are slightly bigger than the ones on the Nokia E71 keyboard, though they’re not quite as prominent and have a rather short stroke. Still, as far as overall typing is concerned, the E5 is a serious rival of the excellent E71.
One thing the E5 has over the E71 is the torch feature. Pressing and holding the space bar in standby powers up the LED flash on the back so you can use your handset a flashlight. That's a nice little perk and it even overrides the keyboard lock.
The sides of the Nokia E5 are mostly bereft of controls. The right side features the volume rocker at the top. The left side is bare.
On either side are two latches that release the battery cover. At first you might confuse the latch on the right for a shutter key but it isn’t.
The top takes care of all the wired connectivity on the Nokia E5. There’s a 2mm charger plug, a 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port, which is hidden under a plastic flap. You can use both the charger plug and the microUSB port for charging the phone.
Rearside are the massive hole of the 5-megapixel camera lens, the LED flash and the loudspeaker grill. The impressively looking lens aside, the fixed-focus cam turned out a bit of a disappointment but we’ll get to it later on.
Under the metal cover is the 1200 mAh Li-Ion BL-4D battery, which powers the Nokia E5. The battery is quoted at to 635 hours of stand-by or up to 12 hours of talk-time.
The Nokia E5 is a neat and tidy QWERTY messenger bar. It’s not in the same league as the E72, not even the ageing E71, but has enough personality and skill. The build quality is excellent and the keyboard is top notch. Ergonomics and pocketability earn good marks too. What more can you want from a business messenger? Good software, which we’ll look at in the next section.