As I wait for my own E71 review unit which I should have very soon, James Wiseman, a reader has looked at the device in a fairly comprehensive manner and sent in his own ‘real user’ point bulliten on the E71. If you are in the market for a new device, the E71 deserves more than a glance. Read on for what James has to say.
• Much more polished and substantial feeling phone design. The case and screen materials in particular seem almost of 8800/Vertu class. This makes all Blackberry phones seem cheap and nasty in comparison.
• Finally, Nokia re-sited the power button away from the front of the phone! Hurray! No more discovering that your phone had switched itself off in your pocket!
• Menus and operation in general feels very snappy – much faster, subjectively, than my E61i. Of course, my E71 is unbranded/SIM-free. After your operator has messed about with it.
• Yes, the default themes/icons are very ugly. However, existing E61/E61i themes work flawlessly (the screen real estate is the same)!
• The Maps application and GPS works well enough, albeit not as accurate or as good as TomTom. I downloaded and installed the SpeedCam application and data onto the E71, and it works! Speed cameras are shown as an overlay on Maps.
• Initial GPS fix is super-fast!
• The rear casing is fixed to the phone with two tabs and two ‘clips’ at the side. This is the only weak point, IMHO, of the design. Even after a couple of uses, the casing feels less ‘secure’ clipping into place.
• Saying that, Micro-SD cards are now hot swappable without removing any casing.
• The surface shows up fingerprints very easily. Get a microfibre cloth! However, the screen seems scratch resistant, and the faux leather case that comes with the phone is actually quite classy!
• The camera performance is nothing to get excited about, but is adequate. Probably a bit better than that in the E61i, but not up to the standard of a standalone camera.
• Web browsing seems improved, and faster.
• It’s novel seeing a little ‘3.5g’ icon, when connected to HSDPA networks. I haven’t been able to benchmark true performance, though.
• The first Nokia E-series phone to come pre-installed with VOIP! Gizmo installer is pre-loaded.
• Most importantly, for me anyway, is that despite the reduced size, the phone is every bit as good (if not better!) to type on than the old E61 and E61i. The keyboard feels very positive, and the keys are easy to press, even for me with big hands! The screen real estate is well laid out, and emails are easy to read. There are three font size settings to choose from, although a smaller one would be good for the Home screen.
Overall, a big, big improvement over the E61i. Worth the wait, and dare I say it (even if it’s clichéd!), a Blackberry AND iPhone killer, although:
• Lack of Blackberry functionality – I currently work in a small company with my wife (a complete contrast to 3 years I spent designing User Interfaces at Nokia – albeit in Middleware rather than mobiles!), which doesn’t justify the cost or complexity of deployment of an Exchange server. Therefore I’d always steered clear of Exchange, especially since I could use Blackberry relatively inexpensively, via Vodafone. Also, I’ve always preferred push rather than pull email. Saying that, I experimented, found a cheapo Exchange hosting ISP, and Mail for Exchange seems to be working relatively well. I found the beta of Nokia Mail to be a bit slow in delivering push email on my E71.