Overcoming the Nokia E72 problems and shortcomings
Buying the Nokia E72 was not my first choice: I rely heavily on Gmail, Google Calendar en Google Apps, so I initially opted for a Google Android smartphone. It turned out to be a dissapointment, so based on the various glowing reviews, I decided to swap it for the E72.
The E72 is certainly not a perfect smartphone. For all its marvels, Nokia seems to have gone out of its way to make sure that many of them are just plain hard to find, hard to use or somewhat buggy/incomplete. This article documents my efforts to overcome the latter issues.
May 2010 update: Nokia has been steadily releasing new firmware for the Nokia E72, adressing not just bugs, but also adressing shortcomings by adding new features. The latest firmware for example adressed common bugs (that I fortunately did not experience myself), added SmartConnect for free (previously a paid third-party app) to overcome Symbian's access point limitation and added streaming internet radio capability to the built-in radio application.
If you are an avid user of Gmail, Google For Domains, Google Calendar and other Google services, you might also be interested in my companion article Google Apps On Your Nokia E72 smartphone.
A more reliable e-mail client
When you purchase your E72, a lifetime subscription to the Nokia Messaging service is included for free. Unfortunately, this is not all that it is cracked up to be. Your results may very, but in my experiences Nokia Messaging proved to be unreliable at best. It would frequently be unable to login for no apparent reason, would not always notify me in time or at all of new e-mail and at some point it simply stopped working completely. It can only use one specific access point for internet access. Additionally, the service requires you to hand over your username and password (which are stored on Nokia's servers), which does not sit well with me.
After several days of tinkering I decided to ditch Nokia Messaging and look for a better alternative. I believe I found it in Lonely Cat's ProfiMail.
The bad news first: unfortunately, the application does not integrate with your E72's home screen. Instead, it shows a small notification in the upper-right corner of the screen with the number of new e-mails for all your accounts combined. It will also blink the optical navi light when you receive a new e-mail. Furthermore, the application does not adhere to the look-and-feel of regular Symbian S60 apps. Although its interface is very practical, it is not the best looking...
Other than that, ProfiMail is a joy to use. It instantly notifies me of new e-mail through IMAP IDLE (push email), supports multiple accounts, HTML e-mail, images & attachments, can use your defined destinations instead of specific access points and keeps IMAP accounts fully synced: giving you access to every single message in every folder with support for syncing sent e-mails as well.
Please note, to preserve battery life, you may want to experiment with fewer mail checks and/or turning IMAP IDLE off. All my mailboxes support IMAP IDLE (push mail), therefore I do not need manual mail checks. This reduces the battery drain quite a bit.
Syncing appointments with Google Calendar
I use Google Calendar on my to keep track of my appointments. The built-in calendar on the Nokia E72 is very good, but it does not natively support syncing with Google Calendar. You need a third-party service to add this functionality
Most third-party syncing apps do not currently work on the Nokia E72 or have limited functionality. For example, they may not support multiple calendars. GooSync came highly recommended, but I could not get it set up properly (either it does not work on the E72 or I could not 'guess' the correct settings, as none are provided).
I have tested quite a few of them, the one that works as I expected for me is GoogaSync. It neatly keeps my appointments in sync with an hourly sync and works with multiple calendars, including subscribed ones. I also like the fact that it charges a reasonable one time fee only instead of monthly/yearly subscription. Unfortunately, the sync app does not utilize the E72 destinations, you are limited to chosing one specific access point for its connection.
An improved internet browsing experience
Nokia's built-in internet browser is based on the excellent WebKit engine, which is also used by Google Chrome and Apple Safari. It will render websites properly, but... the application is marred by a very clumbsy user interface that simply will not grow on me.
My favourite alternative web browser is Opera Mobile. Opera Mobile's look-and-feel resembles its desktop counterpart, yet is very much optimized for use on the E72. It also retains some of its features, like the speed dial (a visual representation of your 9 preferred websites) and tabbed browsing. The app is very snappy, loads websites quickly and renders them perfectly. Although you could argue that the Nokia E72 is simply not suited for web browsing, given that most websites are 3x as wide as its screen, Opera's auto-zoom functionality works very well to overcome this limitation.
Opera Mobile does not support Adobe Flash. Additionally, Symbian S60 does not allow you to change the default browser into Opera Mobile.
Adding GPS location tagging support
One of the selling points of the Nokia E72 for me was its good 5MP camera, perfect for those moments when you would like to take a shot but forgot to bring your state-of-the-art camera. Although not a major issue, I would have liked the built-in camera app to support geo-tagging, a feature that is becoming quite common on smartphones these days.
Luckily, Nokia provides the experimental Location Tagger, which adds this functionality for free. Once launched, it integrates into the camera app and automatically adds GPS information to pictures taken with the E72.
The Nokia E72 looks very slick from the outside, whereas the Symbian platform it runs looks a bit dated by today's standards and its competition. At first it was a bit buggy too, but Nokia resolved this with several firmware upgrades.Today it is my trusty companion that is with me 24 hours a day.
As much as I like iPhones, I wouldn't swap my E72 for one and I am definitely convinced that it is inferior to a solid business phone such as a the E72.
In my case, it checks 5 mail accounts, notifies me of new messages instantly, keeps track of all my appointments, makes sures I don't get lost wherever I am on the planet, is great for a quick read on the internet, a YouTube video or a bit of twittering, allows me to make cheap international calls through Skype, takes my snapshots and last but not least... wakes me up in the morning :)
Do yourself a favour and consider buying the Nokia E72.