30 May 2011
The Nokia E7 has some superb features you won't find on many other smartphones, but unfortunately, the ancient Symbian O/S is a major anchor for the Finnish company's new, but already old world, business flagship.
Given the heavy advertising around Sydney's CBD, it's a good time to take a look at Nokia's latest for the business set.
Feature wise, there's a lot to like about the E7. "A lot" as in "a large number" - it's subjective as to how compelling these features are. It's got an HDMI out socket, and also a very nifty "USB on the go" which means you can, with a special cable adapter, directly plug in your USB flash drives. You can plug in a USB keyboard and a mouse too, but we just can't think of many useful scenarios beyond that other than as a memory card reader. The Samsung Galaxy S II, however, now offers the same (albeit you'll have to pay for an adapter, and of course the phone iself is much pricier).
The E7's build is good, a little slippery like the HTC Desire Z (probably the pack leader amongst current smartphones with a physical QWERTY keyboard). We're not so enthused about the single hardware button at the bottom of the screen, however - at least Android (though not iPhone) users will miss the extra soft keys found on other phones.
What we do like, however, is the physical slider keyboard. Direction keys make text editing very easy compared to its competitors, and we like the fact the screen agnles out to about 30 degrees, which means you can pop it on a desk for viewing movies, but also, say, as a timer.
Now, the TrueBlack screen. Blacks do look blacker than they do on, say, the HTC Desire Z and the Motorola Milestone 2, but to compensate, whites come out with a faint muddy peach tinge. It's a shame because the screen itself is great, particularly with photos.
Speaking of photos, the 8MP snapper is NOT the unit found on the consumer-focused N8, we suspect solely so it will not cannibalise the Finnish company's share.
Unfortunately, the phone's actual interface - the venerable Symbian - is just too big of a party pooper. For starters, it doesn't look great. Photos look great on the screen, but are offset by Symbian's jagged white text names. As if the emphasise the screen's ability to do blacks, too many applications, such as the address book and SMS app - are all on dark backgrounds.
It's not just about looks. You only get three home screens, unlike Android's seven. Software wise, there's nothing ot be 'Appy about - the widgets look cramped, and there are too many steps involved just to move one of them. It's no secret Nokia is moving towards Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform, which means that this phone is a lame duck.
Connectivity has some odd omissions too. We had to manually connect to our regular Wi-fi networks each day - if there is automation, it's been hidden too well. Internet browsing was ok, although again, the jaggy Symbian texts made the experience anachronistic. There's no easy way to sync with gmail, so if you're a Google cloud dweller, you're out of luck.
The battery life, however, is decent for a smartphone - well ahead of the vampiric Milestone 2, and probably the Desire Z.
We wish we could give the Nokia E7 something to recommend itself above other top end smart phones on the market - in just one category. but there's a rival out there for each one of those - and they run the far more common Android platform.
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