Techcraver Review: Nokia E71 Hands-On

Introduction

I have tried a few Nokia NSeries phones and I have been impressed thus far.¬ With that, Nokia’s Blogger Relations Program recently included me in a trial of the Nokia E71, the Finnish mobile handset maker’s follow up to their extremely popular E61 and E61i handsets.¬ For my thoughts on the E61i, see my review in the archives.

At First Glance

This phone, at first look, is drop dead gorgeous.¬ It’s sleek styling includes a shiny metal case dominated by a bright and sizable lanscape-oriented screen.¬ The phone is about the same height and width of an iPhone, yet noticeably thinner.¬ A full QWERTY keyboard take up the bottom third of the phone’s face and are joined by a directional pad and dedicated keys for the home screen, calendar, contact list, and email application.

The E71 isn’t a touch screen phone like the iPhone, but in my opinion this is good!¬ The E71 has actual buttons that give tactile feedback which is invaluable when composing an email or SMS message.¬ I have never been able to get used to the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard, so I’m happy the E71 has a full keyboard.

The metal back of the E71 has been punched to create an extremely effective non-slip surface.¬ In months of using the E71, it has never fallen out of my hand; a rarity for a modern mobile handset.

The E71 demands your attention when you see it.¬ I have had iPhone owners tell me they like the aesthetics better than their beloved Apple device.

In the E71 box, you will find a USB cable, the handset itself and a battery, instruction booklet, a nice looking leather case and carrying strap, and a software CD.¬ Also, Nokia includes a week of voice-guided navigation with the Nokia Maps application.

Functionality

The E71 is a loaded handset when it comes to features and capabilities.¬ The phone features Quad-Band GSM calling and support for 3G networks.¬ There are two versions of the E71, one for North America (that supports AT&T’s 3G network), and the E71-1 which supports 3G networks in Europe and Asia.¬ In addition to 3G support, the E71 can also utilize wi-fi networks, has a built-in GPS chip with assisted GPS, and sports a 3.2 megapixel camera.¬ The phone takes Micro-SD cards, allowing for massive storage capabilities.

On the software side, the E71 is fully loaded and capable.¬ The phone comes with out of the box support for Exchange email via Nokia’s Mail For Exchange client.¬ Along with syncing email, Mail for Exchange will also sync your Outlook Calendar items, Tasks, and Contacts.

Also, utilizing Nokia Email (currently in Beta), you can have push email from whoever your email service happens to be.¬ I have been using Nokia Email with my Gmail account and the service has been flawless.¬ Having my personal and work email, schedule, and tasks on one mobile handset has been a blessing.

Based on Symbian 9.2 Feature Pack 1, the E71 has thousand and thousands of applications available for download.¬ Unlike the Apple iPhone and the corresponding iTunes App Store, there is no central authority who says which apps are “blessed” and which aren’t.¬ This factor makes for a variety of applications available.

The native applications onboard the E71 include the fantastic webkit-based browser, Mail for Exchange, Nokia Maps, Nokia Sports Tracker, a Barcode scanner, RealPlayer software, FM tuner, podcasting application, voice recorder, and many other useful applications.

Messaging

There is no doubt, the E71 was created for messaging.¬ This phone was made to send emails, text messages, conduct instant messaging conversations, and do it all in style at the same time.¬ As I stated before, you can have multiple mailboxes set up so you can receive mail from all your various email sources.¬ The on board keyboard feels comfortable and is easy to type on and the auto-fill feature makes composing messages a breeze.

The E71 supports IMAP4, POP, SMTP, and Exchange email protocols, making it very flexible when it comes to email messaging.

Performance

The E71 is by far the fastest Symbian phone I have ever used. I noted in my review of the N95 that going through menus seemed sluggish at times.¬ This is not the case with the E71.¬ Nokia equipped the E71 adequate memory and processing power to make this a zippy handset, even with multiple applications open at the same time.¬ Additionally, switching applications is quick and easy.¬ Opening messages is a snap, along with composing them.¬ Up until my exposure to the E71, I thought the N82 set the bar for speed on a Symbian phone.¬ Not any longer – the E71 takes the cake.

GPS performance is stellar on the E71. The GPS chip quickly locks onto satellites, pinpointing my exactly location, normally within 10 seconds of me starting the Nokia Maps application.¬ Having voice-guided navigation on my person at all times has come in handy when trying to find a location with friends, either on foot or in a car.

The E71’s voice quality, like every other Nokia handset I’ve trialed, has been stellar.¬ Callers say I sound crisp and clear and to me, caller’s voices sound remarkably good.

Another shining point for the E71: battery life. The phone features a tall, thin battery that takes up almost the entire back of the phone, but it provides enough juice to last me 2 days between charges, even with heavy data use.¬ Most smartphones I’ve used require a charge each night, but this hasn’t been the case with the E71.

If there was one area of complaint with the E71, it would have to be the camera.¬ Being spoiled by the Nseries, devices with their 5 MP cameras, I was expecting more from the E71.¬ The 3.2 MP camera is fine for little snapshots here and there, but image quality overall leaves much to be desired.¬ In the devices defense however, this is a “business” phone.

Conclusion

In short, the E71 is a fantastic looking device that does what any connected consumer or business person needs from a mobile handset and more.¬ This phone will keep you in touch with the office, navigate you to your destinations, allow you to take good (not great) looking photos and upload them to Flickr, and allow you to watch your video podcasts all in one device.

This phone is definitely an iPhone competitor in terms of being an all-in-one Internet connected device.¬ It’s user interface isn’t as sexy, but the E71 gets it done with regards to messaging and Internet access.¬ The E71 is probably more accurately phrased as a Blackberry competitor.

The design and build-quality of the E71 is captivating.¬ The landscape nature of the screen makes for easy reading of web content and messages.

Nokia really knocked the ball out of the park with the E71, aside from the OK image quality, the E71 deserves a look if you are seeking a modern smartphone.

The Nokia E71 lists for $500, however I saw the North American version on sale at Amazon.com recently for $345.¬ Keep in mind this is an unlocked phone, so you are not bound by any contract to any phone carrier when you purchase the E71.

If you decide to pick up an E71, do me a favor and use the link below. It helps me out by paying part of the hosting fees for this site.

4 comments on “Techcraver Review: Nokia E71 Hands-On
  1. Pingback: [Test] Nokia E71 | MobileHub : le blog des smartnautes

  2. Pingback: WOM World / Nokia » Blog Archive - The E71 is ‚Äėdrop dead gorgeous‚Äô

  3. Awesome write-up but of course, I’m going to be biased. Would love to read what you would think about “best apps to use on your e71″ and other configuration tips and tricks to setting up the phone to work best.

    – broadband tethering
    – what apps to set up on the “long click” for the shortcut buttons
    – using e71 as a podcatcher, download over wifi in the evening, listen on your way to work
    – sharing via ovi, flickr, and vox
    – what to put on your two profile views

    that’s just to name a few – as I learn more about what’s out there, I’ll do the same.

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