While many of Nokia's recent smartphones have flirted with QWERTY keyboards, the E52 takes a much more traditional path as it relies on a standard phone keypad for text entry. This is both good and bad. The good side is that you don't have to learn to use a new style keypad as you do on the E55, but the downside is that text entry is that bit slower as you're totally reliant on the, admittedly rather good, predictive text engine to do a lot of the heavy lifting. This is fine if you're a fast texter, but less than ideal if you're not and need to compose and reply to lots of emails.
The phone uses the 3rd edition of Nokia's Series 60 smartphone OS. Series 60 is starting to shows its age next to newer operating systems like Android and iPhone, but it's still relatively easy to get to grips with and there's a decent line-up of business-style software included, such as the PDF reader and QuickOffice application for editing work documents. The web browser is one of the better ones you'll find on a standard candy bar shaped phone as pages are quick to render and there's a nice thumbnail view of the sites you have previously visited when you hit the back button. It's also got Flash Lite support, so some Flash content can be displayed.
In terms of connectivity, the E52 puts in a good showing. Naturally it's quad-band so you should have no problems using it on your travels, and you get both HSDPA and Wi-Fi support for fast data download speeds. As well as this, there's GPS onboard which works nicely with the preloaded trial of the Nokia Maps software.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy so the E52 naturally has some entertainment features too. You get the standard Series 60 music player and as Nokia has kitted the E52 out with a normal headphone jack you don't have to rely on the supplied stereo headset, although it's not actually too bad in terms of sound quality. And along with the usual Nokia Video Player, there's also a decent YouTube player so you can watch videos of people hurting themselves in a wide variety of different ways. Like the E55, the phone has dual camera's for video-calling, but it's the 3.2-megapxiel shooter on the rear that's of most interest. However, the shots it takes are the usual run-of-the-mill cameraphone fare. There's a decent amount of detail, but it's not great in low light and sometimes colour can look a little bit muted.