The Nokia E55 comes complete with a built-in GPS receiver, A-GPS and Ovi Maps preinstalled. Voice-guided navigation comes at a price, however, you get 10 1-day drive licenses that come with the phone (must be used within 3 months after purchasing the handset) and walk navigation is completely free for the owners of E55.
The preinstalled version of the Ovi Maps is 3.0 and as usual it's pretty nice to work with. It has really detailed map coverage of a huge number of countries and a lot of extras such as traffic information, city guides and so on. Sadly, the extra features need to be purchased separately, as must the voice-guidance after the trial period has expired.
The app also has very decent looks and easily customizable route planning algorithms. Our favorite feature is the 3D view mode, which unfortunately has to be turned on every time you restart Maps - that's an odd one, no doubt about that.
Ovi Maps is also usable for pedestrian navigation or you can switch the GPS receiver off and simply use the phone as an electronic map. The nice thing about it is that you can actually preload the map content, so you don't need to access the wireless network to download that on the go.
Nokia E55 also features a digital compass. In order for it to work, you need the map zoomed on your current GPS position. The compass (a magnetometer sensor) is turned on by default, but it doesn't work while turn-by-turn navigation is engaged. It's quite useful while making your way around on foot though, as it rotates the map to match even your slightest change of direction.
If you don't fancy using Nokia Maps, you can opt for any of the numerous third-party applications available on the market, there's no shortage of those.
The overall impression of the Nokia E55 GPS functionality is positive, with the GPS sensitivity pretty acceptable. It is good enough for most users' needs and won't make too many people look for alternatives.
The Nokia E55 comes with two games preinstalled, both of which are pastime classics.
The first one, called Block Cascade Fusion is a variety of Tetris, in which color also comes into play - instead of just making lines, you have to line up 5 or more blocks of the same color horizontally or vertically. The changes in the rules take some time getting used to - the lines of 5 or more same-color blocks disappear only during the fusion… blocks are dropping frantically, while you're trying to figure out what the point is. It is part of the fun, so we won't spoil it.
The other option is Top Hit Solitaires bringing 15 types of solitaire, with classics such as Klondike and Freecell (if you ever owned a PC you've played them).
While it doesn't come preinstalled, you can install N-Gage on the Nokia E55, just head to www.ngage.com and follow the instructions. Strangely for a business-minded phone, there's full N-gage support. No need to tell you, there was no free activation code in our retail box.
The Nokia E55 is a limited edition E52. The good thing is the half-QWERTY handset is not limited in any way compared to its mainstream sibling. OK, save perhaps in terms of demand. But Nokia must be aware of that and know their market well enough. We guess it makes sense to duplicate a great package that’s likely to sell very well just to test a concept, which the company is trying for the first time. Who knows, they may’ve struck gold with the half QWERTY keyboard. And if they didn’t, it’s no big deal. The extra R&D costs are perhaps close to zero and they still have two great phones, at least one of which will sell.
Not the least, the Eseries fleet is growing stronger. The E55 is closing the gap between Eseries candybars and devices like E71, E72 and E75, so there is a smartphone for each and every user. Eseries have always aspired to be the ultimate in business phones and now they’re also trying to be the most flexible. There are handsets for heavy texters (E71, E72, E75, etc.) and heavy talkers (E51, E52). The E55 is headed to the stores and trying to bridge both worlds.
So, the E55 has a very special place in the Eseries lineup and in a way its fate is less in the hands of the competition, and more in the hands of its own kind. We don’t think a half-QWERTY keyboard is a liability in a phone of great build quality, excellent features and outstanding exterior. But some users may be asking themselves why they should choose the E55 over an E71 or an E72.
As to competition, the E55 seems to outclass the likely rivals, especially when it comes to looks. The Eseries pedigree guarantees top class business performance too, but there are still a number of handsets that can hope to steal some of the E55 market. Those who don’t like Symbian will perhaps want to check out the WinMo based Samsung B7320 OmniaPRO and the newly announced B7330 OmniaPRO, which we just previewed. RIM's BlackBerry Curve 8520 is another viable option and recent enough to get the attention of users. Neither of those messengers has the Eseries charisma but decent spec sheets, alternative OS and – not the least – full QWERTY keyboards give them a bit of a weight.
To wrap it up, the Nokia E55 and E52 are the same handset, so E for excellence goes both ways. E for massive earnings we’re not so sure about. But that doesn’t mean a half-QWERTY keyboard has let down an excellent device. The E55 is as capable, user friendly, solidly built and absolutely gorgeous as the E52. Which one is yours?