Reviews -> Hardware -> Mobile phones
SHAYNE RANA | 27 June 2011
For : Large AMOLED display, great build quality, 8 megapixel camera, large QWERTY keyboard.
Against : Heavy, no autofocus, low battery life.
Dimensions (WxHxD): 123.7 x 62.4 x 13.6 mm; Weight: 176 g; CPU: 680 MHz ARM 11; Display: 4-inch AMOLED 360x640; Camera: 8 MP; Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, EDGE, 3G.
Contact Nokia India
Verdict: A great phone for Nokia loyalists, but does not live up to expectations.
We’ve been without a Communicator for quite some time now, but then again, Nokia hasn’t quite been at the top of its game lately. But now, it’s back with the E7. It takes its cue from the funky looking anodized aluminum shelled N8, but the E7 is quite larger and heavier (176 g). The 4-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen (360 x 640) should have featured a higher resolution, but it does boast Nokia’s Clear Black Display technology, which makes the display phenomenal in virtually any lighting condition. It’s easy on the eyes and extremely responsive, and encased in Gorilla glass, you’re assured a scratch-free screen.
The Home key has been moved to the bottom-centre of the handset. A micro USB/charging port, mini HDMI and 3.5 mm handsfree socket are located on top. As well designed as the provided handsfree is, we were unable to use any other handsfree with the E7. Like the N8, the E7 is completely sealed, with a little tray that can be extracted to slip in your SIM card. To make matters worse, it features 16 GB of internal storage with no microSD card slot. Keeping with tradition, the E7 Communicator comes with a large QWERTY keypad under the display. While the keypad was comfortable to use, accessing it will take a bit of getting used to. It requires a very precise push to pop it up, but once open, the viewing angle and keypad layout is great. The keys are soft and easy on the fingers and the separated buttons are perfect for speed typing.
The E7 is a stunning looking handset that, although slightly on the heavy side, is the sleekest Communicator we’ve ever seen. If only Nokia had perfected the slide out panel, we’d have absolutely no gripes about the design.
The Communicators were traditionally considered to be the most powerful mobile handsets, but the E7 cannot boast the same. It packs a disappointing 680 MHz ARM 11 processor and a Broadcom BCM2727 GPU and 1 GB ROM. In this age of dual core processing speeds on mobiles, how is this going to survive? Still, the E7 is by no means sluggish. We could use over ten apps at the same time and still watch videos and access the Internet without much lag. While most functions run quite smoothly, a few UI quirks could really get to you, especially if you’re switching over from another smartphone OS, like Android.
The world has moved on to virtual QWERTY keypads even in standard mode, but Nokia is sticking to the alphanumeric num-pad style, with no option to change. The onscreen QWERTY in landscape is a little constricted and not as functional as some others. Symbian "3 feels outdated in some ways; the desktop widgets and shortcuts seem a little too ridged and structured, and sending messages requires a couple extra key presses than it would on other platforms. That said, access to new messages and connectivity options is quite easy from the desktop. The task manager option is also handy and easy for multitasking or closing running apps.
The Nokia Music player is better than average. The few presets, stereo widening and loudness settings do help enhance the audio quality. Tone quality is excellent, with highs moderately divided to enhance vocals and higher frequencies, and the bass line is of superb clarity. What’s disappointing is the lack of a customizable EQ. The FM radio didn’t work as well as we’d hoped. It was able to pick up only four of the nine stations.
The E7 doesn’t share the N8’s penchant for video playback. While most H.264 and WMV files in DivX formats played without a hitch, some coded in XviD didn’t. Nokia has added apps for streaming files from Paramount Movie Trailers, CNN Video, National Geographic and E! Entertainment. Video and photo editing software are also on board. TV out via HDMI supports Dolby Digital Plus. The E7 didn’t come with any preloaded games.
The E7 supports all kinds of connectivity, from 3G to EDGE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (with A2DP), but lacks DLNA support. The native browser is fairly competent and allows you to pinch or double tap to zoom in or out of screens. With Flash support, Web browsing is close to the desktop experience.
Nokia’s Social Networking app allows you connect to your Twitter and Facebook accounts and update both simultaneously. You can upload images to Twitter or Facebook, but nowhere else; not even Flickr. Another serious issue with Symbian "3 is that the social networking integration with your phone book is poorly managed. You have to manually sync contacts to their Facebook accounts individually. Nokia Email works well and it’s a breeze to set up accounts. For the handset’s GPS functionality, Ovi Maps are on board. They’re quite intuitive, with an easy-to-use UI and speedy satellite sync ability. Nokia has added in access to Burrp for places to eat, and TripAdvisor and a Lonely Planet app for travelers.
The E7, being part of Nokia’s business series, comes preloaded with functions for the business user. QuickOffice is not a read-only app, but is fully registered and can be used to even create new documents. Adobe’s PDF reader is also preloaded. F-Secure virus protection is preloaded with security features like remote wipe, and locate and locking options. The E7’s camera is a bit of a downer. Nokia didn’t seem to think the 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash required autofocus. The quality of images in most lighting conditions proved to be quite good with colors and details retained to quite an extent. HD video recording (720p at 25 fps) is also supported with image stabilization. The 1200 mAh Li-ion battery didn’t seem sufficient. With Web browsing, messages and calls, social networking and a little music thrown in, we needed to charge the handset on a daily basis. Talk time averaged in at about 4 hours 35 minutes.
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs 29,990, the Nokia E7 does not live up to its Communicator legacy. Nokia loyalists will find great value with this device, but with the current level of smartphone technology, the E7 is a little behind, even as a business oriented device. Nokia needs to seriously rethink the Symbian "3 UI; that’s all that’s keeping the E7 from its true potential.
- Shayne Rana