After a couple of weeks with the Nokia E71, I can certainly say it’s the best and most equipped smartphone coming out of Nokia’s doors for the longest time. The smaller form factor has some drawbacks but is something to be expected due to size constraints.
The Nokia E71 (see unboxing pics here) is the successor of the popular Nokia E61 & E61i but follows the same features from the candybar Nokia E51 (see review here). Click on thumbnail images to see larger pictures.
Nokia has shrunked the E71 to just 57mm (E61i is 70mm) and trimmed it down to an amazingly 10mm (E61i is 13.9mm) thickness. That’s slimmer than the E51 at 12mm and as slim as the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic (9.9mm) and Nokia 6500 Classic (9.5mm). The size of the E61 was the primary reason I chose the Samsung Blackjack over it.
Because of that, the display screen got narrower a bit at 2.36 inches (320×240 pixels) from 2.8″ with the E61. That includes the QWERTY keyboard with the keys a little too crowded. However, I think Nokia made a good trade-off by making the keys more embossed so you don’t accidentally hit neighboring keys. Typing becomes comfortable when you’re fingernail-oriented rather than thumb-oriented. The number keys are all positioned at the center so you can easily type in single-handed.
In the connectivity department, the Nokia E71 offers everything imaginable in its form factor — 3G/HSDPA 3.6Mbps, WiFi 802.11 b/g, built-in GPS receiver and A-GPS function, microUSB, infra-red and Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP. The internal memory of 110MB is a little small considering the E51 has 130MB, but a dedicated 128MB RAM and ARM 11 369 MHz processor makes the phone responsive. Besides, you can add in 8GB of storage via hot-swappable microSD card.
The only disappointing feature with the E71 is the 3.15 megapixel camera (2048×1536 pixels).
It’s supposed to be auto-focus but there’s no way I can see it working The autofocus will have to be manually toggled each time you make the shot. You need to press the “t” or “4″ key to do this.I made several sample shots here (click on thumbnail) — can’t even make a single decent and on-focus shot had a more decent shot here but if you’re going to take moving pictures with this camera, forget about it.
There’s no dedicated camera button on the side too, so you’ll need to use the middle button to take photos and videos. Video quality is no better as it maxes out at 15fps. There’s secondary front-facing camera for video calls.
I guess Nokia didn’t bother to make improvements in the optics considering that this is mostly a business phone. I once had a chat with the Nokia N78 Product Manager and he told me that the camera is on the top of the list of features that affects the thickness of the phone (so is the cost).
The audio quality is decent and sound volume is good even if the speakers are placed at the top side. There’s support for 3D tones and MPEG4 video playback is smooth.
A bunch of mobile office productivity tools are pre-installed — QuickOffice, Dictionary, Adobe PDF reader, Zip and printer manager. There’s an intranet feature to securely connect to your office network via VPN. You can also enable the built-in encryption feature to secure files in your phone’s memory or external memory card.
Battery life is good and the BP-4L lithium polymer is rated at 1500 mAh. Nokia suggests a talk time of a whooping 10.5 hours! Just make sure to turn off WiFi scanning to conserve more juice. From experience, usage lasts 2.5 to 3 days with normal 3G and WiFi usage.
All-in-all, I’d give the Nokia E71 a good buy for data/connectivity dependent users. This is not for the multimedia fans though. The list price of about Php21,000 to Php23,000 makes it an even attractive purchase.
Note: Updated the part on the camera with newer sample photos.