After being a huge fan of the Nokia Nseries, I wanted to change gears and evaluate Nokia’s business line of phones – the E Series.Â For my first trial, I received a review unit of the Nokia E61i, their flagship E Series devices that features onboard Wi-Fi, a full QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth, and a large vibrant screen.
At first glance
When I first picked up the Nokia E61i, I was surprised with how light it was.Â Looking at the device which stands 4.6 x 2.7 x .5 inches in dimension, I was expecting it to be pretty bulky.Â Not that it’s a feather, but it’s weight at 5.3 ounces feels good in the hand.
The keys are rubberized and are easy to type with.Â The menu and control keys are a little small, so if you are someone with big fingers, you might want to look elsewhere for a smartphone.Â There is no pointing device, but Nokia designed this phone to be an ace at one-handed operation.
I took off the battery cover and popped in my T-Mobile SIM card.Â The E61i fired up and booted.Â The screen is quite bright and easy to read.Â Text is very distinguishable and the graphical Symbian UI excels on the E61i.
The software experience
Nokia’s E61i has the same Symbian applications as the NSeries devices, with a few extras.Â Being a business phone, it has applications to read Office documents, PDF documents, and a few others for easily swapping office files around with your co-workers and colleagues.
Hopping in wireless networks was a painless task.Â Also, like the Nseries, the E61i has Internet telephony built right into the phone.Â This means with the right application, such as TruPhone, Fring, or other VoIP product you could make and receive phone calls without using your conventional phone minutes.Â This would be extremely useful when traveling internationally.
I also loaded what I call the “Google Suite’ of applications.Â This includes Google Maps (with My Location – easy GPS-like location service), Gmail, and a new feature called Google Search.Â After loading Google Search, a little widget sits on the bottom of the E61i’s home screen and allows you to hit ctrl and quickly enter a Google search term.Â A web window pops up with the Google search results.
One software feature that disappointed was the Exchange client.Â Nokia has an Exchange client for download that allows you to connect to your corporate Exchange/Outlook email.Â I successfully downloaded and installed the application, entered in my Exchange server information and user credentials.Â However, the client consistently reported a “System Error” when trying to connect to the Exchange server.Â I verified all the settings with our IT department, but despite all my efforts the Nokia couldn’t connect.Â One attractive feature I saw the Exchange client support was its ability to configure the client to only check emails every 30 minutes when you were outside of business hours.Â This will reduce battery drain by not initiating a data session every 10 minutes or so when it’s unnecessary.
On the software side, the E61i is like the other Nokia devices I’ve tried: a little sluggish.Â There’s a delay when you press a key and when you get multiple applications loaded up, there’s a definite gap between the software needs and hardware resources.
However on call quality side, the E61i excelled.Â My callers reported that I sounded very good and to me they sounded incredible.Â The speaker is audible and crisp.Â I was able to get a strong signal in areas that other phones reported weak signal strength.Â Battery life was very good.Â Even on days with heavy data usage, I didn’t have that much drain on the battery.Â I was able to go about 3-4 days between charges.
Using the phone overall was a very high-quality experience.Â Composing emails and SMS messages using the full keyboard drove higher usage of these services for me.Â Navigating the call menus and working with applications was a breeze.