Battle Test: Nokia E62 and BH-800

The Nokia E62 is an interesting little beast. It looks like Motorola Q but it uses Symbian S60 platform rather than Windows Mobile 5. Additionally, the E62 is available on Cingular, so it utilizes EDGE “high speed internet” rather than EV-DO. So far so good.

The E62 is not a bad phone. It performs quite while in many of the most important categories. Its reception is clear and it is relatively easy to use. When paired with a Nokia BH-800 Bluetooth headset, the phone can be used virtually handsfree.

On a tangent here, the BH-800 is probably the best earpiece I have yet used. It’s tiny and attractive and it sounds great. On the technical side, it supports Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate. A single charge can give about six hours of talk time and over 150 hours on standby. Buttons on the headset control power and volume and can answer calls. You can even make calls with its voice recognition capabilities.

The biggest problem I encountered with the E62 was a delay when switching between programs and menus. It has over a second lag time when simply calling up your messaging window. I guess this isn’t a huge problem, but it is a bit tedious when you’re trying to do stuff hurriedly—and I always seem to be in a hurry.

Another issue is that the miniSD port is located behind the battery. Therefore every time you want to remove your card you have to pop the cover off and remove the battery. This can be a bit of a pain in the ass as the cover is temperamental about snapping into place.

The phone comes preloaded with a bunch of productivity options and seems to be tailored for more business-minded individuals. After a bit of coercing, I was able to get my Gmail working through the integrated mail browser — whether or not I was more productive after that is debatable.

I’d say the biggest hindrance of the E62 is the fact that it’s on Cingular. EDGE is sloooow. I used to think this was a problem with just New Orleans, but I’ve been on the road for the past few weeks and had the opportunity to use the E62 in both Chicago and New York, as well as in my hometown. Much to my chagrin, EDGE is just as slow in the big cities. Chicago actually turned the worst performance, with the phone frequently losing signal and then being reluctant to re-sync.

That said, the E62 did turn better EDGE performance than any phone I’ve yet encountered, but it still pales in comparison to the speedy EV-DO options available from Verizon and Sprint. As it stands, this is likely the best smartphone that Cingular has to offer. I’ve been using the Cingular 8125 (HTC Wizard) and I find the Nokia E62 to be far more useable.

Appearance-wise, it’s streamlined and stylish and fits nicely in ones pocket. I never once felt awkward talking on it. The phone holds a charge relatively well: I was able to leave it off the charger for about three days with a generally high amount of talk time. Also, while it isn’t a touchscreen, the 320 x 240 pixel, 16 million color screen featured on the E62 screen looks far better than the 8125.

So if you’re on Cingular and you need a touchscreen with true mobile broadband then you might want to wait until the 8525 (HTC Hermes) goes retail (soon). If can’t wait for the 8525 with its HSDPA enlightenment, then the Nokia E62 is undoubtedly the way to go. The E62 is available now for $149.99 with a two year contract and the BH-800 Bluetooth headset can be had for about $120.