Nokia E71 in-depth review -

Click here to find out why our judges deemed this to be Mobile Choice's Phone of the Year and Best Smartphone in 2008 

Look and feel

Despite the full QWERTY keypad and the large display, the E71 is remarkably compact and fits neatly into the palm of your hand. There’s a version with white keys and another with charcoal keys, and both look great when set against the phone’s shiny chrome fascia.

The feeling of quality is enhanced by the liberal use of high-quality metal in the handset’s construction. The phone’s chassis is almost entirely constructed of lightweight stainless steel, and there’s a dimpled effect on the rear battery casing that gives the phone added grip.

The phone weighs 127g, which may sound heavy, but feels perfect for a phone of this leaning.

 

Features

Everything you’d hope for in a smartphone can be found on the Nokia E71, including HSDPA, mobile email, a good camera, A-GPS with Maps, a great web-browsing experience and loads of great organisational tools.

 

Ease of use

Despite the wealth of features at your disposal, the Nokia E71 is a very easy phone to get to grips with. There are dedicated keys, which give you access to popular applications like contacts, messaging, and the main menu and user interface is simple. Our only slight gripe is the size of the QWERTY keys, which are a tad fiddly.

 

Performance

Everything the E71 does, it does exceptionally well, whether you’re using the business function or the more consumer-focused applications. This is a fast, intelligent handset.

 

Battery life

In addition to everything else, the battery life is hugely impressive.

 

 

 Nokia E71 Review -
5

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/7/2009 10:32:10 AM

10

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

10

out of 5

Ease of use

10

out of 5

Features

10

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

The E71 is packed with all conceivable features, performs beautifully and is a dream to use.

Cons:

The QWERTY keypad keys are on the small side.

Although Nokia has long been the king of the hill for global mobile phone sales, it’s yet to knock BlackBerry off its perch in the business smartphone space.

Already an almost generic brand for mobile email, RIM BlackBerry really consolidated its dominant position in the business handset arena a couple of years ago, when its new Pearl (and later the Curve) series reinvented the QWERTY phone genre. These were business phones with a stylish, more compact design and, as a result, corporate types were suddenly more relaxed about taking their email-savvy handset to the pub at weekends. 

Meanwhile, although Nokia was enjoying a modicum of success with its own E61 business phone − which sported a full QWERTY keypad, push email, and loads of business functions – critics argued that, while capable, it lacked the polished, sleek and compact design of the BlackBerry.

 

Nokia E71 - Crossover appeal

Since the launch of the E61, Nokia’s Eseries production line has been rattling along efficiently. The E61 was upgraded to include a two-megapixel camera and became the E61i, but it has taken a good two years for the Finnish manufacturer to launch a brand new take on the QWERTY business phone. But boy was it worth the wait.
 

The Nokia E71 is not only the best business smartphone we’ve yet had the pleasure of reviewing, it’s one of the best all-round phones that we’ve encountered.

Of course, this is all part of Nokia’s master plan; to produce a smartphone which appeals to both business users and consumers. In fact, the E71 even includes a Switch mode feature that lets you switch the phone’s homescreen from a business view (a display featuring business apps like email, calendar and notes) to a consumer view (a display featuring music player and photo gallery).

In addition to marketing its crossover appeal, Nokia has evidently spent much time and effort in designing and building a phone that, to coin a well worn cliché, ticks all the boxes. The E71 looks good, feels great, has a fantastic feature set, is easy to set up and is a dream to use. What more could you want from a business phone?

 

Nokia E71 - Look and feel

The Nokia E71 actually has more in common with the BlackBerry Curve than the BlackBerry Pearl because it boasts a full QWERTY keypad rather than the abridged version you find on the Pearl. Despite the full QWERTY and the large display, the E71 is remarkably compact and fits neatly into the palm of your hand. There’s a version with white keys and another with charcoal keys, and both look great when set against the phone’s shiny chrome fascia.

The feeling of quality is enhanced by the liberal use of high-quality metal in the handset’s construction. The E71’s chassis is almost entirely constructed of lightweight stainless steel, and there’s a dimpled effect on the rear battery casing that gives the phone added grip.

The phone weighs 127g, which may sound heavy, but feels perfect for a phone of this leaning. It is designed to be held in either one or two hands, but our choice was to hold it in the right hand and navigate the QWERTY keypad, the joypad and the soft keys with our thumb.

 

Nokia E71 - Setting up mobile email

Mobile email scares people; particularly those that don’t have access to round-the-clock IT support through work. However, it really couldn’t be more straightforward.

To set up access to your home email account from the E71, all you need is your email address and your password. It really is that simple. Meanwhile, if you want to set the phone to access your work email, you’ll just need your work email address, password, exchange server details and your access point.

Unlike the BlackBerry devices, mobile email isn’t pushed to your device and you will need to connect to your email account to check new incoming email. Once connected, it takes a second or so to retrieve a message when you click on it for the first time. However, once downloaded, that message is stored on your device and can be viewed even when you’ve disconnected from your account.

One major perk with the E71 is the ability to view attachments. We’ve received and opened gif files, JPEGs, Word Docs and PDFs via the E71, and they all render really well on the handset’s large display. It’s especially useful, if you need to check a document in its original form while on the move.

When deleting emails, you can choose either to delete them just from the phone, so the header remains, or you can choose to delete them from the phone and server. The emails are then deleted from your display when you disconnect from your account.

 

Nokia E71 - Personal navigation

Built-in GPS is fast becoming one of the must have features on the top smartphones, and you get A-GPS on the E71, which gives you an even faster fix on your exact location.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business user or a consumer, being able to navigate your way to a destination in your car or on foot with the aid of sat nav is a major asset.

The Nokia E71 comes pre-loaded with Navteq maps for the UK and, whether you’re looking to plan a journey or find a local point of interest like a restaurant, bar or petrol station, you start by clicking on the Maps application.

By clicking on Maps > Options > My position, the E71 will locate your current position on the map with the aid of A-GPS, which usually only takes a few seconds.

Once the satellite has found you, a small red dot appears on the map and, from here you can search all your local points of interest, or plan a journey with this as your starting point.

Using the Nokia E71 for navigation

Once your location is fixed and highlighted on the map, click Options, Search and Addresses, and you can upload the address details of the place you’d like to navigate to. You can also choose to view the address on the map and save it to Favourites if it’s a location you’re likely to visit again. Once the destination is stored on the device, you can choose whether you want to walk there or drive there, and the E71 will then calculate your route. For UK journeys, the only thing we had to download to the device was the voice instructions (which were free) and that’s it. We’ve used it for several journeys and it’s excellent. You will have to pay a licence fee if you want to download live traffic updates and this will cost you anything from £3 for a 30-day licence to £15.74 for a one-year licence.

Using the Nokia E71 to find your nearest

The E71 includes a wealth of free and pre-loaded points of interest which are sensibly categorised under headings like Eat and Drink; Going Out and Entertainment; Sights and Museums; Transport; Accommodation; Shopping; Business and Services; or Leisure and Outdoors.

These are great if you’re simply looking for an address, a contact number for reservations, or a location on a map, so that you can navigate your way there.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or if you’re abroad and need to download local points of interest, then Nokia lets you download one of a choice of useful city guides for £6 a pop.

You have a choice of guides from the AA, Berlitz or Insight and they come in a choice of English, Dutch, German, Spanish or Italian translations, and you do get a free trial before you buy which lasts about 10 minutes.

 

Camera and music on the Nokia E71

The E71 is a handset designed for work and play, and any consumer-friendly phone worth its salt will boast a decent camera and music player.

The E71 sports a 3.2-megapixel camera with auto-focus and automatic flash, as well as a camcorder that shoots VGA video at 22fps. There’s no dedicated camera key with the E71. Instead, you can access the camera via the Media folder in the phone’s main menu.

The camera is a simple point and shoot, designed for one-hand use, with zoom, settings and shutter key all controlled by the E71’s joypad. Don’t make our mistake of assuming that the key with the dot on the right side of the phone is also a shutter key. It isn’t. It’s a voice-dialling key.

The camera may not boast a Carl Zeiss lens, but it’s beautifully simple to use, you have the benefit of a huge display and photo quality is really rather good. And once a photo has been taken, a little menu pops up alongside your image giving you the option to delete the image, send your photo as a message or by Bluetooth, post it to the web or set it as a business card reader. You can also share your images online using services like Ovi, Flickr and Vox. So if sharing photos is your thing, the E71 makes it very easy.

As for music, the device gives you a competent multi-format player, a 3.5mm headset port, a large potential storage capacity via the microSD card, and a pre-loaded application that gives you direct access to the online Nokia Music Store.

Other musical assets on the E71 include an FM radio, a Podcast application and the ability to download 3D ringtones.

 

Nokia E71 - Verdict

As with all the best phones, there’s loads more to say about the Nokia E71 that we don’t have space for here. You get a great web-browsing experience with HSDPA data speeds, there’s a great driving game pre-loaded, and there’s loads of extras like Push-To-Talk, instant messaging and internet calling. We also love the fact that you can call a number from your contact list by simply tapping in their name on the phone’s keypad while on the homescreen. It’s speed dialling made simple.

Nokia is positioning the E71 as a phone that can bridge the business and consumer divide. And although we may dock Nokia points for using the dreaded ‘prosumer’ term, we can’t fault them for an absolutely top-notch handset.