Nokia E71 Review by

Have you wondered if this could replace your work Windows Mobile device or Blackberry?. My impressions (both good and bad) after the break.

Let me start off first by saying that I love this thing. While Mark is quite fond of camera/media features (as he blogs/vlogs much more than I do), I appreciate the business end of my phones a lot. And for that reason, I feel that this device can actually replace my Nokia N95 8GB (N95-4) for all daily usage. Can you use this phone completely replace your blackberry for email and messaging? Tough question. Lets weigh in all the factors shall we?

Form and Appearance

The E71 is without a doubt the most attractive, well built qwerty smartphone I have ever had the pleasure of using. Pictures do it no justice, you have to actually hold it to see how small/thin it is. The phone is a bit heavier than one might think by looking at it, and that is because of the abnormally large battery inside and the metal trimmings on the phone (e.g. the back cover).

I like that Nokia is adding metal to their phones, it gives it a really nice premium feel. You aren’t just buying an expensive phone that does a lot and look cool, its made of quality materials too. Compared to every blackberry I own or have owned, the Nokia E71 wins in this category hands down, every time. I love my Blackberry Curve, but the Nokia E71 is much sexier.

The Nokia E71 looks good on paper, rich feature set, 3g, qwerty keyboard, all around business device. But how is the phone to type on? Personally, I like the keyboard very much. The feel of the keys is very nice and the middle of each key is raised slightly to make it easier to type. If I had to rate it versus a Blackberry, I would say its on par or even a little better than the 8800 series, but not as good (pretty close) as the curves or the 8700 series. This of course is a very good thing as most of us can agree that the Blackberries are the holy grail of smartphone keyboards.

Email, Web and Messaging

Nokia E71Here is where the line starts to blur. The browser is the same s60 webkit browser you have grown to love. Flash lite support on a screen thats already landscaped + the qwerty keyboard = the most rewarding internet experience from Nokia yet (save for the Nokia E90, but that phone is a good bit bigger). Already, the Nokia E71 beats any stock WinMo phone or Blackberry in this category.

It is worth noting that Skyfire is in beta stages for S60. Skyfire puts phones capable of using this browser on the same level. The only thing that comes close to the full rendering of this browser is the browser on the new Blackberries (e.g. Bold, Kickstart, Javelin, and Thunder). So in this regard, out of the box the Nokia E71 provides the best internet browsing experience, especially on a 3.5g network such as ATT’s.

Email is a mixed bag. I feel that in order for this to truly be a business device, Nokia really needs to revamp the way email works on their phones. Yes, it syncs to Exchange. Yes you can get your personal Gmail on here. But how does it look? How much can you check? Is it in real time? And unfortunately the answer to those questions are all no.

Nokia is creating a push service with Nokia Email to rival blackberry connect, as it took away Blackberry Connect from the Eseries (as RIM is a competitor afterall), until then, any email fiends will not be quite as connected as they once were.

White Nokia E71The phone does not have html email. I feel that by today, any leading edge smartphone should have html email. Even the old Blackberries via software update are getting this feature. This phone has 3g so it should have no trouble rendering or loading html emails. It is good with attachments though, and office documents/pdfs are pretty easy to look at, 3g helps with the large downloads.

In the end, does it get the job done? Yes, but not as well as I would like. I feel like this is something in between the iPhone’s email capabilities and a Blackberry’s.

Any kinds of instant messaging can be done with a 3rd party IM client. I hated using instant messaging on my Nokia N95 primarily because I didn’t have a qwerty, but now it’s perfect. 3G also makes sending files over aim on your data plan very snappy.
Final Verdict

So there you have it, the pros and cons to the Nokia E71 from the business side. If perfect up to the minute email is for you, then this might not be the device you are looking for. If you were looking for an s60 phone that is good sized, syncs to Exchange, and has a qwerty, then the Nokia E71 is a real winner. Are we likely to see the E71 widespread among offices? Probably not, due to no carrier support, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone traded their Palme Treos for a sexier device. Overall though, it is a great hybrid device.

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