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Review: Nokia E73 Mode

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The E73 Mode runs Nokia's S60 Third Edition Feature Pack 2 system software. Back when it first hit the market, it was a solid operating system. It still is when it comes to power and capabilities, but the user interface is practically unchanged since S60 first hit the scene nearly 10 years ago.

The home screen has a lot of flexibility. There is a dock of sorts (when "Active Standby" mode is activated) that runs across the screen just under the notifications bar. It holds quick links to apps or actions and is completely user customizable. Below the dock, S60 offers a "Today"-type screen that shows you recent emails, calendar appointments and information such as that. The E73 also can switch "modes." Say from 8am to 6pm, you want the device to provide short cuts to your work email, calendar, etc. Great. But from 6pm to 8am, you'd rather have fast access to the media player, camera and web browser. No problem-o. Just customize each mode in the way you want, and use the mode switcher key to easily jump between the two. Of course, you can just ignore it if you want to.

The main menu is accessible via the left soft key. Nokia has done a little bit of work to flatten this menu structure and make it easier to interact with. The basic layout is a grid, but can be changed to a list view if you so prefer. The main folders have been slightly renamed, making it a bit quicker to figure out where stuff is. The menu is responsive to the D-pad and most actions are performed instantly. Applications open in a blink. S60 lets users move applications and folders wherever they wish, so the menus can be completely customized.

One thing I noticed. The operating system asks for "permission" a lot less. One of my biggest and longest-running complaints with S60 is that it asks you permission to do stuff every single time you press a button. Now, it feels like it is remembering settings/behaviors better and asking (interrupting, really) less than it used to.

Though S60 feels more utilitarian these days and less polished, it still offers plenty of oomph. There are literally dozens and dozens of applications preinstalled on the E73. S60 is so evolved that nearly every tiny detail or facet of the phone's behavior can be modified or controlled. Most users won't bother with this stuff, but it is there for those who like to tweak.


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