Nokia's N series handsets are usually the ones that steal all the limelight, but for many it's the rather more understated and more business-focussed E series smartphones that have been among the company's most impressive offerings. As a result the E52 has a lot to live up to, especially as siblings like the E71 and E55 have been pretty much universally well received. The good news is that, for the most part, the E52 does the E series family proud.
The E52 is one of the smallest and slimmest smartphones around at the moment. Like the E55 it's just under 10mm thick, and while it's ever so slightly wider than its sibling you'd need to get out the ruler to tell. It's available in either grey or gold and both manage to look sharp and stylish without coming across as overly showy. Despite the thinness of the phone, it feels remarkably sturdy as it doesn't twist and flex like some of the cheaper smartphones around.
We've now been spoilt by great touchscreens on handsets like the iPhone and HTC Hero, so it's hard to get excited about a normal, non-touch LCD display, but we have to say that the one Nokia has used here is still pretty impressive. Measuring 2.4in diagonally, it's quite large for a standard candy bar shaped phone and completely dominates the front of the handsets. It's got a decent resolution of 320 x 240 pixels so text and graphics look nice and sharp, and although it's not as expansive as the screens on today's touch devices, it's still comfortable to use for a bit of web browsing or for reading longer emails. Indoors it looks very bright too, but it is a little bit reflective when used outside in direct sunlight.
The bottom of the screen is flanked by two softkeys and beneath these lie the traditional D-pad and main cluster of shortcut keys. The D-pad is nice and large and just as importantly feels responsive to the touch. Certainly navigating around the menus proved no problem. Either side of the D-pad are two shortcut keys. The one on the right gives quick access to the messaging app, while the one on the left calls up the calendar app. Both are welcome additions as these are the two most common apps that you're going to be using throughout the working day. Alongside these are a home button, back button and two call control keys.