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(Pocket-lint) - In the Pocket-lint 2006 Awards, mobile phone of the year went to the Sony Ericsson k800i, and we can't help feeling that Nokia might have taken this a bit personally.

In the next few months they're set to release a raft of new phones aimed at all corners of the market and the E65 is one of the first barrages in their counterattack.

Aimed, we reckon, at what you might call the average user, it does a bit of everything, but unlike previous sliders from Nokia (the disappointing 6280 springs to mind), it does most of them very well.

The unit is slim and partially wrapped in a faux leather skin (either red or chocolate), which we've seen before in their designer ranges, but not so much in Nokia's "straight" phones. Inside there's a basic 2 megapixel camera, numerous media players (although noticably you don't get stereo headphones in the box), and the usual suite of personal productivity software solutions. It all runs on the third version of the S60 operating system and compared to earlier phones it's pretty quick at performing most functions.

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The outside of the phone has more buttons than usual. Nokia are trying to give you dedicated buttons to make life easier, but to be honest, I found it a bit fiddly and if you forget to lock the keypad when you close the phone you could be doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Some users (those without fat fingers, probably) will like it though. There's buttons for conference calling and contacts and the all important mute/unmute.

The active standby screen is as on earlier phones, but I have to say that the font size is a little on the small side. This seems to be a common problem throughout the phone and for the life of me, I couldn't find how to increase it.

The messaging and web browsing functions will be familiar to most that’ve seen Nokia's S60 phones previously, although the addition here of Wi-Fi could transform the experience for many.

When downloading emails, for instance, the phone can be set to ask which access point you want to use. This might seem tedious at first, but by giving you the choice, you can save some pennies if you're within range of your wireless network. Connecting to your WLAN is child's play too.

The web browser in particular has some neat features - being able to zoom in on the area of a page you're interested in, then zoom out to see an overview of the whole thing is a welcome touch.

Call quality was acceptable although there was the occasional echo noticeable - something that flip and sliders phones have been known to suffer from - and in noisy environments, it proved a bit tricky to hear the other person. However, these are minor grumbles.

Memory expansion is via the micro SD medium (again, noticeably absent from the sales package) and another grumble is that you have to remove the battery cover to swap disks. The only other niggles for me were the seemingly pointless little tweaks that always seem to appear in various applications - just when you're getting to know something they change it again!


Overall though this is a solid little performer and if this is considered to be the entry level phone in Nokia's latest selection, I for one can't wait to see the top of the range models.

Watch this space.

Writing by Ian Hughes.