Nokia E71 – And I thought the E51 was impressive!

Nokia E71Around this time of the year, my mobile contract comes up for renewal. For a gadget freak like me that means shopping for a new phone. I could have gone for a sim-only contract and cut costs a little, but with so many shiny new toys available every year where’s the fun in that? I did consider keeping my beloved E51 because I really really liked it, but the E71 was just too darn shiny.

Wired magazine called the E71 an “iPhone killer“, but that really doesn’t do it justice. In fact, except for being roughly the same size, it’s pretty much the opposite of Apple’s offering. It has a physical keyboard, it runs an OS that was designed for mobile phones, and it’s software is an open platform.

Other options

I considered three options this year. Windows Mobile is not for me, which leaves Android, iPhone and Symbian based phones. Both the iPhone and T-Mobile’s G1 are only available with expensive contracts here in The Netherlands. Contracts that include unlimited data. But the thing is that I don’t actually use 3G all that much. I mostly work from my home, and most of my friends, family and clients let me tap into their wifi when I’m there. So I don’t really need a data plan. That leaves Symbian.

The E71

The E71 is simply Nokia’s highest end smartphone that’s still pocketable. Very much so in fact. It’s incredibly flat and exceptionally well-built. When you consider the built-in GPS, the abundance of communication protocols it supports and the snappy performance, this thing is truly a engineering marvel. It’s probably less than half the volume of its older brother, the E61.

The cheaper alternative: E63

The soon to be available E63 will share many of it’s characteristics, but it doesn’t come with any extras. I could have lived with the lack of GPS and the slightly larger size, but after buying an aftermarket data cable, protective cover and memory card the price would have been the same (with my contract, your mileage may vary).

Key features

I remember trying an LG Viewty last year and really hating the onscreen keyboard. I tried typing on the G1 and the iPhone, but both of them were no match for a full, albeit small, querty keyboard. On the E71, typing is very easy for me, especially since I have small hands and can easily press the right tiny button.

As a user, moving from an E51 to an E71 is more of an evolution that a revolution. Symbian has learned a few neat tricks, and the keyboard lets me make better use of them. I would have liked to try something new and found the G1 in particular hard to dismiss. But the incredible dimensions, the feature set and the relatively low price made the E71 simply too good a deal to pass up. I do fully expect to fall for a G2 or G3 next year though. Android is an amazing platform, but I just don’t like the current handset very much. At least not enough to make me buy a flat-fee data contract I’m not going to be using.

9 Comments

  1. Even though I’m the proud owner of a G1 I still really like the nokia phones. Best all round brand around.

    Comment by koffiekitten — February 9, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

  2. Although all this makes sense, nobody mentioned the new Google Android phone yet…

    Comment by Dan (Mobile) Alfons — March 17, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  3. hi. i m using e51 in these days but now i want to use full qwery keyboard fone. i m looking for e71. can anyone suggest me that is it better than e51 or suggest me any other mobile with full qwery keyboard.
    thanks

    Comment by Adnan Ali Raza — March 29, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  4. the E71 is a brilliant phone but hey nobodies complained .I have used many pda and smarphones and I cannot believe that there is no screen or txt zoom .Why? are we all ment to wear glasses or use a magnifying glass.I discovered it is designed to have that function (tutorial)but do you think nokia care knows how to operate or find it?Come on guys and girls put the pressure on .I feel short changed I want a business phone that works for me.Iphone no but it sure had great features and Icould read txt and email at a glance and the home screen.

    Comment by alvin — May 6, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

  5. “it’s pretty much the opposite of Apple’s offering. It has a physical keyboard, it runs an OS that was designed for mobile phones, and it’s software is an open platform.”
    Well, i agree that it’s the opposite. The upside is the keyboard, but it is awkward for web browsing, and the bigger touchscreen would have been great.
    My biggest complaint though is the email-client seems to be from another decade. Lacks support for essential IMAP features like moving things to folders (and storing sent / trash). The PDF-reader is unable to open large files, and you have to pay for the upgrade to a fixed (newer) version. The calendar has no support for lables/different calendars. The cale
    The OS is designed for regular cellphones in the 90′s, it’s as far from “smart” as you can get. It takes many steps up and down in menus to do simple things. Very unitutitve. Seriously, my old Palm Tungsten was easier to use, and had lots of more features, and applications. It should be easy to use, because it’s made to ease your LIFE. It’s not, if you have to poke with it for hours to get to your decent settings. And if you have to write your own software.
    The only good is the hardware, but it’s not of much use with this software. (And the fact that the platform is more open, as said)
    As a phone (without “smart”) it’s still ok. Has great VoIP support anyway.
    It has a great Python API, but still no applications. It has a camera which tints images purple.

    I regret buying my E71, today i would not even think of anything but iPhone if buying. Can’t afford it yet though, so in a few years, when it’s time for my next phone, it might as well be android.

    Comment by Meff — May 10, 2009 @ 11:07 am

    • I had the same problem. When ever I tried to open a 8mb pdf file on Nokia E71, the memory error came. I had enough storage memory on my phone, as well as on my memory card, but the memory error was about the processing memory. So then there were only three solutions.
      1. Install an application other then Adobe Reader (they cost as well).
      2. Install Adobe Reader from third party website, and get a virus as well.
      3. Install the Adobe Reader LE 2.5 from quickoffice.com

      I took the third option, it costed 9 US dollars, but it was worth it. I now open large pdf files without a problem

      Comment by massao — December 30, 2011 @ 2:29 am

  6. can anybody knows how to open a flash website using E51. it says “Get Flash” but u cant find the version that matches the E51. can anyone help.

    Comment by Khaled — September 13, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  7. Hey Roy, thanks for your comparison. I have a dilemma, i LOVE my E51 (could go out on a limb and say it is the best phone i have ever had) – 2 years on, and it still performs like new, a total dream. i have been given an E71 to trial over the weekend (as i’m due for an upgrade and as you’ve pointed out it’s definitely an evolution past the E51). My dilemma is this… i don’t want a new phone. I’ve been looking over various sites, including yours to work out why i would want the E71 over the E51 and for me there isn’t enough evidence to make me move on. The way i feel today, i would rather just buy an E51 when my one dies. If i remember, i’ll log back on after the weekend and tell you what i decide… either way the E series rocks and i’ll be stay or upgrading.

    P.S the iPhone is sh#t. It is NOT a business tool. 5 days of it, it was returned… Couldn’t wait to go back to the E51. the iPhone and the touch screen feature – is NOT a solution of business needs, it is a hindrance.

    Comment by Sean — October 23, 2009 @ 9:10 pm

    • Hi Sean. I realize your comment has been on here for days, and you’ve probably already made up your mind, but I wanted to respond nontheless. I got my E71 by renewing my contract. It cost me next to nothing. If that is an option for you as well, I’d recommend getting the E71. It’s better than the E51 in every sense, and especially for text input.

      Then again, if you are in a position where you’re eligible for a sponsored phone, I’d at least consider going with an Android phone. There are several with a hardware qwerty keyboard, and the OS feels a lot more modern. Symbian feels like MS-DOS compared to the iPhone and Android, and even if Nokia’s Maemo OS catches on it’ll probably still be a one vendor system. I’m looking at the Motorola Cliq and a few others right now, but my contract still has a few months to go.

      Comment by Roy — October 28, 2009 @ 8:28 am