If you were a fan of Nokia's beefy E90 Communicator, hold on to your seat, because the smartphone range just got a revival in the rather impressive E7 - think PC power that lets you plug in external drives and create PowerPoint slides on the go (you big nerd). Nokia has unveiled the QWERTY slider at Nokia World, and we got some time with it.
Look and feel The E7 may be named for Nokia's cult business Eseries line, but design wise, it takes its cues from the N900. The four-inch capacitive touch-screen sits above a slide-out full QWERTY, and comes out at an angle for easier viewing. Its slimline anodized aluminium body is reminiscent of the the N8, and despite the addition of the keyboard, is only the slightest bit thicker at 13.6mm. It's also a bit of media beast with an eight-megapixel camera that can record HD video, and Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Like the N8, it has an HDMI port so you can throw videos on the big TV screen, with pictures and videos on the phone scaled up to high-definition. We found the keyboard quite hard to slide out, and the mechanism seems to catch a bit before clicking loudly out. Perhaps this will change in the models that ship however. The keys themselves are soft and easy to type on, though smaller hands may find it a bit wide for comfortable writing.
Business featuresThe new Symbian^3 software is on point though. The E7 is being marketed as a business device and it's practically haemorrhaging office features, including full-screen email with multitouch capabilities and rich text, so you can view graphic emails and zoom in on embedded pictures. It syncs with MS Exchange of course, and you'll get a full range of MS Office apps, including a PowerPoint app that will let you create slides on the phone. The browser is full HTML so it'll be just like on a computer, and we even have multi-touch for pinch to zoom in email and web. We're impressed with its PC-esque chops - a bundled cable allows you to plug in an external hard drive or flash drive to view files and use to backup the E7. Onboard storage is a very respectable 16GB, expandable in the microSD slot. In a software upgrade that should launch in Q1 next year, the E7 will come preloaded with the MS Exchange-based IM app, Microsoft Office Communicator, plus extra security features in the form of device encryption, remote wipe and lock and secure intranet access. For now, you'll have to head to Ovi Store to download the IM app, which also lets you chat with MSN and Yahoo! Messenger contacts.
Regulars will like it tooDepsite the pro-user billing, the E7's three customisable homescreens have the same style and boxy widgets as the C6 and C7. Nokia says that its Symbian^3 devices will be more or less the same with the only differences in hardware, so developers can create software for its whole range of devices, not just one or two. We liked the phonebook, which makes it easier to actually, you know, make a phone call - you can just type in the first few letters of a name for an automatically generated list of possible friends. You can then choose how you want to contact the person. Like other phones announced at Nokia World today, the E7 also features Nokia's new CBD ('ClearBlack Display') screen for good visibility in direct sunlight, and from an angle. Bright and clear, it's one of the nicest displays we've seen from Nokia, and hopefully it's just the first of a bunch of new Nokias that's going to give hero phones like the iPhone 4 and Galaxy S some trouble.
If you're after a serious work phone that can still churn out the pictures, videos and social network stuff, you'll definitely want to check out the E7. The device comes in five colours including a lovely bright blue and green. It will ship in Q4 at an estimated price of EUR495 before subsidies. No word on which operators are picking it up, though Vodafone should be a given.