The screen is definitely the E5’s Achilles’ heel. Not only is it small at just 2.36 inches, but it’s got a relatively low resolution of just 320 x 240 pixels. Text and icons still look sharp, but it does feel very cramped to use - even compared to other messaging handsets. Also, the screen isn’t all that bright, so it can be a bit difficult to read outdoors - something which hasn’t really been an issue on most of the company’s other messaging phones. Furthermore, the display isn’t touch enabled, so you have to rely entirely on the D-pad for navigation, which is slow and feels a bit old fashioned in this age of touchscreen smartphones.
Thankfully, the E5 ups its game when it comes to the keyboard. It uses similar bubble style keys to those found on the E72 and it really is excellent. Arranged across four lines, the keys may be small, but the way they curve outwards from the keyboard makes them easy to tap with your fingers or thumbs. Nokia has also carried over some of the neat shortcut functionality found on previous E series model, so you can use combination key shortcuts to turn on and off the LED flash, enable and disable Bluetooth or set the phone to mute.
User interface and performance
As with Nokia’s other messaging phones, this one runs the Series 60 3rd Edition operating system. Series 60 enables you to do a lot, but it goes about it in a rather awkward and long winded way. As a result, you find yourself having to do a lot of clicking about on the D-pad to navigate your way around the user interface. Nokia has tried to ease this a bit via shortcuts. For example, there’s a button on the front that takes you directly to the messaging client and if you press and hold this from the Home Screen it’ll automatically open a new message window. You can also add a number of your favourite contacts to the home screen so they’re easily accessible.
There are plenty of decent apps installed too. For example, Nokia Maps offers turn by turn navigation, Vlingo offers speech to text translation, and there’s a Facebook app to help you keep up with your social circle, although the later is not as easy to use as it should be.