Now that I’ve been using the Nokia E71 NAM for a few weeks, I wanted to post a follow-up review covering some of the more “day-to-day reality” aspects of the phone. I’m going to bullet-point my observations/comments for brevity’s sake, and as with my initial review, any comparisons made here are as compared to my Nokia E61:
- The operating system is much snappier and more responsive overall. The phone just feels a lot faster than the E61.
- The new 5 way navigation key absolutely rocks compared to the little joystick on the E61. The only thing I don’t like is that perhaps the outside edge (“arrows”) could be a little bit wider to make it easier to hit with the end of a finger.
- Connecting to and using EDGE seems a LOT faster.
- Wifi connect time and bandwidth/throughout also seems a lot faster.
- Web pages render and respond a lot quicker (scrolling etc)
- I like that when the phone is “asleep”, if you hold down on the middle button, the screen shows you a large clock for a brief period (including icons for any messages, missed calls, etc)
- From the Home Screen, you can start typing the name of a contact and they will appear in a list so you can just select them from right there.
- You can also dial letters now, which was a frustration of mine with the E61. If, for example, you needed to dial 1800FLOWERS, there was no way to do that on the E61 without figuring out what “FLOWERS” is in numbers, which is hard because you don’t have a normal phone keypad, you have a QWERTY keyboard instead. On the E71 you can dial 1800FLOWERS and it will figure it out.
- After a quick download of an iSync plugin from Nokia I was able to synchronize my Calendar and Contacts to my Mac Address Book/iCalendar.
- Google make a version of their Gmail App specifically for Symbian 60 series devices (e.g. the E71) and it’s really slick.
- Google’s Map application is also available for the E71 and detects and uses the GPS device automatically. It’s awesome. It won’t give you true turn by turn directions, but you can plot out a course using the directions feature on Google Maps, then follow along using the GPS to achieve almost the same result.
- I also tried out qik (over wifi) and it worked like an absolute charm. Simple set up, easy streaming, decent quality. I was very impressed.
The Not So Good
- The operating system, although responsive, is still just as confusing/non-user-friendly as it always has been, if not a little more so. The menus have been moved around a little and things have been re-classified to make them even harder to find.
- I felt like the vibrate feature is a bit weak. I rely a lot on my phone’s vibrate (rather than a loud, obnoxious ring-tone) and found that I quite often missed calls unless I was sitting down (so it was pushed to my leg) or somewhere really quiet where I actually heard my quiet ringtone.
- It took a lot of poking around in the menu to figure out how to customize the 2 softkeys on the Home screen
- As usual with recent Nokia phones, to use the voice-dial command you have to master talking like a robot, and can’t just record a voice-tag against a contact and use that.
- I couldn’t figure out how to customize the middle button (between the volume up/down buttons) at all. That seems like a good button to be a shortcut to the camera.
- The Automatic Network Selection algorithm on this phone seems to be quite aggressive. I noticed my handset changing quite frequently to another network because my signal got too weak.
- I tried out Quickoffice, which is included with the handset. It is absolutely painful to try to create even a tiny, simple spreadsheet on 🙂
As a side story, I’ve been quite sick for the past few days, and spent most of my time either on the couch, or in bed. During that time, I used the E71 to browser the web, check email and send SMS messages a lot for 2 days without charging it at all. I was impressed that it stood up to that much usage with wifi, as the E61 tended to drain the battery quite quickly if you stayed connected too long. It was good to have a device like this handy to keep me at least a little bit connected (even if my mind was thoroughly disconnected!).
All in all I’ve been very impressed with the E71 thus far, and will be very sad to have to return it. Everyone else who has seen the phone has been impressed by its design, and by the features I’ve mentioned (usually GPS, internet access, email etc). It’s been described as a “sexy BlackBerry”, an “iPhone with a keyboard” and “sweeeet”, amongst other things. I’d have to agree with all of those descriptions.
Congratulations on another solid phone Nokia – now please spend a little more time on refining the software/UI side of things if you’re hoping to compete with the likes of Apple!