To put it straight, the E90 Communicator has a lot in common with the other Nokia smartphones, mostly with the N95. What E90 loses in terms of multimedia capabilities, it's quick to gain as regards user interface and system speed and stability. The huge display makes the difference. QVGA is one thing, 800x352 pixels is another, and the Symbian OS on S60 3rd Edition makes the best use of it. The laborious searching for items in other handsets is just a walk in the park for E90 thanks to the extensive previewing functionality.
There are four graphic themes available. Pity, the internal display won't show the date when ringing profiles other than Normal are activated. In our case, the Silent profile is shown in the bottom bar.
Top of the business E-series, E90 is gifted with more than generous RAM. Combined with the already mentioned row of application keys, it gives a totally new perspective to Symbian multitasking. Let's compare the E90 with Nokia E65, another handset of the business E-series. With E65, launching the web browser turns off the music player in the background. The Communicator, on the other hand, is a lot more like a computer. Switching between tasks is smooth and losing the work in a background application is very unlikely. Yet, even the E90 has its limits. Should you cross the reasonable boundaries, the classic flaw of all Symbian handsets will befall you: an unexpected and uncontrollable halt of all running applications. The E90 is miles ahead of all other Symbian smartphones, but still a little step short of perfection.
Taking the huge display aside, we're still talking of the good old S60 3rd edition user interface. There is therefore little point in looking closely at all menus and sublevels. Let's instead try and highlight the areas where the E90 is different (read: better). Upon opening the Communicator, the internal display takes over and the transition is seamless. Not always so though the other way around. Some applications (like Maps, and other GPS related) didn't have a problem, but in some cases folding the handset closed resulted in getting a stand by view of the display. That's not that bad after all, as the applications didn't shut down and could be easily recalled through the multitasking key.
That the system is not specially tailored for a wide display is only obvious in some of the menus, where the descriptions are shortened. This does seem out of reason as there is more than enough space around the violently shortened rows. Otherwise, the Symbian adaptability to wide spaces is admirable, we didn't run into problems even with third party applications.
The ultimate business device, E90 excels at office work. Let's look at its messaging capabilities, along with its performance in viewing, browsing, composing and editing documents.
The functionality and performance of all the applications above are described in detail in the following chapters of our extensive Nokia N95 review:
Nokia is traditionally sparing of words when it comes to built-in components of their handsets. The type of GPS chip integrated in E90 is thus quite obscure. Our head-to-head testing of E90 and N95 indicate the chips in both handsets are quite possibly the same. At least in terms of performance, sensitivity and speed. The built in GPS related applications are also identical, which - again - takes you to the respective chapter of the N95 review.