Friday, November 02, 2007

The Nokia E90: A Summary Judgement

1. The word processor is much worse than on the earlier 9300. Loading a book formatted as MSWord takes up to nine or ten minutes. And, unlike the 9300, it can only have one document loaded at a time. That makes it unusable for those of us who view a smartphone as in part a convenient way of reading books and doing minor edits.

2. The Notes application provides a substitute, since it will load a book formatted as text pretty quickly, although it also will hold only one book in memory at a time--despite the enormous amount of memory built into the phone. But it scrolls very slowly, has no "go to page" or equivalent, and you have the choice of either using it as a viewer and being unable to edit or using it as an editor, being able to edit, but having a horizontal white line between every line of text. I think the theory is that you are taking notes on lined paper.

3. It freezes fairly often. It's barely possible that I'm just pushing the wrong button--the interface is not all that intuitive--but I don't think so. In particular, as I understand it, you are always supposed to be able to use the menu button to choose among applications. Quite often, when I push it, nothing happens.

4. Currently the high speed digital connection (CDMA etc.) is 2100 MHz, which no U.S. provider supports.

5. The "US version" of the phone starts with the European rather than the American convention for representing dates; I set the date at 11/1/07 on November first, only to discover that the phone thought it was January eleventh. The convention can be changed--this is only a small problem--but it is still annoying.

I expect I would find more problems if I tried using more applications. Currently the phone is back in its box, ready to be mailed back to the seller. My sim card is back in the 9300, which is less sexy, has a narrower screen, doesn't have a lighted keyboard or a built-in GPS or a camera, but works for the things I mostly use it for.

With luck, in another few months, Nokia will announce that the phone has been adopted by a US carrier and a real US version, with a 3G connection that works in the US and Canada, is available. With more luck, by that time, either the word processor that comes with it will have been upgraded to the point where it is useful or some third party will have produced a satisfactory word processor for the phone.

At which point I may take another look at it.

Of course, by that time, third parties may have figured out a satisfactory way of putting applications--starting with a word processor--on the iPhone, linking it to an external bluetooth keyboard, and so making it into something closer to what I want.


Myslivec in San Diego said...

Thanks a lot for this review. I was considering buying Nokia E90. I'm not anymore.

Anonymous said...

Or you can wait for consumer version of openmoko phones, estimated to arrive at the end of the year. It's open source - a lot of freedom, and you can easily hire some developers if you miss something :-).

Anonymous said...

You probably don't know how amusing it is for a European to observe how for once it's the Americans (or Japanese, for that matter) who have to wait for the availability of a new gizmo. Even when it's a just a phone that turns out to be crappy.

David Friedman said...

Jan comments on Americans rather than Europeans having to wait, this time, for a new gadget.

In the case of cell phones, I think the pattern is common; I had to wait a year or so for the Nokia 9300, which is tri-band, to be available with both US frequencies.

Part of what is going on is that Nokia is a European company. Part, I think, is that cell use became common earlier in Europe than the US, possibly because the landline systems were worse.

But one interesting part is the difference in how the industry works. In Europe phones seem to be mostly sold by independent distributors, whereas in the US almost all of them are sold by the service providers.

So Nokia can't expect to sell many units in the US until some service provider adopts the phone, a process that probably involves a good deal of negotiation.

jimbino said...

In American usage, "judgment" has no 'e' following the 'g' and "acknowledgment" never does.

Russ Nelson said...

David, check out my bluetooth chording keyboard:

Anonymous said...


1. GSM spreading in Europe versus its slower spreading in the US is an interesting case how government actions proved better for the market than free competition. In Europe the GSM standard was quickly adopted and encouraged by national governments. In the US (and partly Japan) the situation was quite the opposite with a couple of standards competing. This competition fragmented the market and slowed the penetration of the cellphone technology. European markets (in phones and related services), on the other hand, flourished under the standard which was imposed from above and which ensured continent-wide interoperability.

2. In Europe most phones are also sold by carriers.

Myslivec in San Diego said...

I'm not sure how pagers (beepers) fit the model (by simun). I thought that the GSM was slowly spreading in the US because there was a well-establish substitute (pagers) that was not present in the Europe (at least no the part of Europe I'm from).