As soon as the E71 was announced, it had a magnetic attraction to it. Here was a phone that right from the spec sheet and press photos screamed that I am good, probably the best phone Nokia’s made in recent times. After four weeks of constant usage, the E71 was able to live up to the aura its launch had created for it. That being said, there are still things that the E71 indeed needs to take flak for. This post is a rundown of the ups and the downs on the E71, following on from my initial impressions. The last part of this review will list buyer profiles and hopefully help decide if this is the phone for you.
WHAT NOKIA GOT RIGHT
Of late, I have had some complaints with regard to the general build quality on Nokia devices, Eseries included, but I am glad to say that the E71 suffers from no such issues. The metal and plastic mesh nicely to give the phone a rich feel with zero creaks. Brilliant. The metallic touch adds another dimension to the phone and similarly priced devices such as the N78, look cheap in front of it. However, if I were to pick a hole, it would have to be the light that escapes from the bottom of the screen, a problem the E90 faces too.
I have said it before, people have said it before and even Nokia has said it themselves – this phone is not the world’s thinnest QWERTY for nothing. The size is an absolute pleasure, the E71 can be slipped into any pocket regardless of what you are wearing and not cause even a little bulge. Yet, owing to the construction, this is not something you will tend to drop despite the size.
To give you an idea of how small it is for a QWERTY even width wise, just look at the above picture. The E71 is not even visible lying underneath the E90.
The has also been a lot of talk about the 2.4″ screen and the 320×240 screen resolution. I would have appreciated a 2.6″ screen but since this is primarily a business phone, I am more than willing to sacrifice .2″ for the compactness. Moreover, any screen resolution bigger than the current would have made the text so small, that it would be a pain to read.
This part of the review has been covered in The Joy Of Predictive Text On The E71 and E71 v/s E90 v/s T9 – Which Is The Fastest? posts. To sum it up, the predictive text feature and the small keys take a some getting used to, but once you do that, using the E71 is a breeze. The keys are definitely not a deal breaker.
If I were asked to pick five things I liked in the E71, battery life would certainly figure in the top. Considering its size and weight, the E71 manages to contain the wonderful 1500 mAh battery that also powers the E90. The 1500 mAh easily means two days of fairly heavy usage which includes, liberal WiFi usage, Email retrieval every 30 minutes and the usual mix of calls and messages; all of this with the screen brightness at maximum.
The bottomline being that no matter what you do, if you leave home in the morning with a full charge you will more than likely get home with some juice still left.
WHERE THEY FALTERED
It is actually surprising that Nokia still manages to make a phone whose camera has a horrible purple tint. The camera needs some serious work, as of now it is almost useless in low light and to an extent indoors. The auto focus also has problem acquiring the subject and this coupled with the fact that it requires a separate key is bad enough.
Outdoors, the camera performs reasonably although still not at the level of a E90, leave alone a N78. (Picture comparison coming soon.)
Nokia marketted both the E71 and E66 as Email proficient devices, but soon withdrew Blackberry support and therefore seem to have dug a hole for themselves. There are loads of push email system like Emoze, Seven and Nokia’s own client, yet decidated Blackberry users who are used to the service will refuse to experiment. The reason I say this is because I personally know a few people who almost bought the E71 before becoming aware of the lack of BB support. Now the Blackberry Bold is their phone of choice, despite having far less value for money than the E71.
It is not that the other systems are inferior or offer poor services, it is just the fear people have experimenting and leaving turf they consider home. I personally am more than happy with the default IMAP client which handles most email provider’s configurations automatically. (Gmail Included.)
MUSIC & THE USUAL ESERIES COMPLAINTS
Nokia has done it again with the E71. The 2.5mm audio jack is as always present, but this time may be it was due to size considerations rather than policy. Also needless to say, the ‘stereo’ headphones that ship with the phone are useless if you are considering using them for music. Nokia should just stop giving them if they are unwilling to improve their quality. Performance with custom headphones is much better, but not at the E90 level. The dedicated volume buttons are a big boon though. The FM radio is also much worse of than on any Nseries device.
N-Gage still isn’t anywhere near the E71, but surprisingly Ovi is. The Share Online client is present to allow direct uploads to a variety of services such as Share on Ovi, Flickr and Vox.
The Eseries is generally considered relevant only to ‘business personel’. May be Nokia projected these phones in that manner or the tag simply came about itself, I’m not sure – but what I’m sure of is that I don’t agree with it. From what I can see on the street, a lot of Eseries devices are owned by people who having no use for the Eseries’s enterprise features.
E71 FOR THE AVERAGE NORMOB
If you are in the market for a reasonably priced, good looking feature packed phone, then the E71 makes for a good bet. This is only true if your primary concerns are battery, web, email and size. If music and camera are important considerations, you might have to look elsewhere. The mono loudspeaker is enough for ringtones and the casual song but nothing more and till the time a firmware fixes the purple tint, the camera is also barely useable.
E71 FOR THE BUSINESSMAN
The E71, is a killer business man’s phone. It has great battery life, support for enterprise email, encryption, remote data wiping, VOIP capabilities, a QWERTY keyboard, great size, in short everything going for it. The only glitch in what otherwise could have been a smooth sale for the E71 is the lack of BB support.
Nokia is trying to push its own solution, granted. But that solution is just not reliable yet. The emails sometimes get delayed, there’s no support for multiple accounts and the application feels beta. In my opinion pulling support for BB just yet is an oversight. Nevertheless, if BB support is not critical for you or you are willing to experiment just a little with another service, don’t think twice before getting an E71.