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The E55 is the latest and smallest of Nokia's E-series, business-focussed handsets. It measures a mere 9.9mm at its thickest point, so it really is incredibly slim for a fully-featured smartphone. But despite it's thinness, it shares the same impressive build quality as the other phones in the E-series range and certainly feels like it could stand up to a few knocks and scrapes.
The front face of the E55 is dominated by its large 2.4in display. The screen's resolution at 320 x 240 pixels is pretty good for its size and certainly provides enough room to comfortably view web pages or read longer emails. It looks pin sharp, too, and is relatively bright, although outdoors in direct sunlight it can be a tad difficult to read at times. However, in this respect it's not all that much worse than screens on many other devices we've used.
Beneath the display, Nokia has added two shortcut buttons for the calendar and email client, which let's face it, are the two features you're most likely to use on a daily basis. For navigation there's a chunky and responsive D-pad, plus two soft keys mounted on either side of the screen.
However, it's the main keypad that's perhaps the E55's most distinguishing feature. It's a 20-key, half-QWERTY affair, with two characters per key. To input the first letter you tap once, and to input the second you tap twice.
Alternatively you can avoid the need to multi tap by simply typing once on each key and letting the predictive text engine work out what word you're trying to input. This approach has been taken before on previous handsets, but with rather limited success. However, it works much better here mainly because the predictive text engine Nokia has used is much better than on those older models. You really can just tap away while letting the predictive text engine sort out the words in the background. We're used to the iPhone's soft keyboard and predictive text combination, which we're quite fond of, but the Nokia was probably a bit easier to get up to speed with and led to fewer mistakes.
The handset runs the 3rd edition of Nokia's Series 60 smartphone OS. Series 60 may not be the flashiest OS around, but it is very straightforward to use. It also includes a decent line-up of applications as standard including the QuickOffice software, PDF viewer and Windows Live Messenger. We also like the way you can set up and easily switch between work and personal profiles via a simple icon on the home screen.
The phone's browser is impressive too. While it can't compete with the likes of Safari on the iPhone or Google's browser on Android, it's definitely one of the better browsers we've seen on a candybar style phone, as it generally does a good job on page formatting and pops up a nice thumbnail view of previously visited pages when you hit the back button. The browser also supports Flash Lite, so some - but by no means all - Flash content can be displayed.