Intrigued by Nokia X5 launch last week, I begin to evaluate my current phone, Nokia E63. Although marketed as business device, on paper it has the same basic capabilities with the newer device. It runs on Symbian S60 operating system, and several social apps already exist for it.

After reflashed with newer firmware, this phone is equipped with Nokia Messaging (push mail app) and Nokia Chat. Both apps have to be downloaded when I purchased the phone last year. Ovi Store, the Nokia application shop is also in place, and has quite good catalogue of apps. I cannot really compare it with Apple AppStore or BlackBerry though, because I never really use those phones, except as a reviewer.

There is also an official Facebook client from Nokia (part of Nokia Communities app). No Twitter client, although there is one for other Nokia phones. I guess I just have to wait.

Nokia has also cooperated with local mobile carriers to provide cheap data plan, dubbed Nokia Messaging Service. This service gives you unlimited connection for messaging, chat and social network apps, for as cheap as Rp 25,000 a month (at Telkomsel). I use Indosat though, which is rather more expensive at Rp 35,000. Unlike BlackBerry Internet Service this is not a comprehensive plan, so you have to pay separately for other data access, such as web browsing.

Sounds good? Not really. The Nokia Messaging push mail app is now good and functional, unlike the earlier iterations. But there are problems with other apps.

The Nokia Chat seems only work with Google Talk. I can’t make it connect with Yahoo Messenger network, which I use quite extensively. I don’t use Ovi Chat or MSN, so I don’t test those.

The Facebook Client is slow: I mean, it is really slow. It seems fully featured, with ability to take pictures and post it online, but it often has troubles when updating the news feed. I often resort to mobile web version, which is faster. And the inexistence of Twitter client means I have to use to mobile web or TweetS60 to get my Twitter fix.

Can you do social network with Nokia E63. Sure, but not comfortably. I guess BlackBerries are still better in this regard.