Nokia E51 – Substance over style?

Nokia E51 Sony-Ericsson W890i

It was time to renew my cell phone contract this month, and I the first phone that caught my attention was Sony-Ericsson’s new W890i. It’s really flat (10mm), has a 320*240 pixel screen, great network support and all the usual features. But what really made me want one was the design. Boy does it look good. Unfortunately it’s not yet been released, and while I was waiting for it to become available I met the Nokia E51.

I’m not a big Nokia fan. I’ve blogged here about how my 6230i utterly failed during my last trip abroad, and I find the menus to be a somewhat confusing. But the longer I thought about it the more I felt the W890i was wrong for me. It’s a Walkman phone, but I would probably never use it as a music player. The 3.2 megapixel camera isn’t going to replace my regular digicam any day soon, and the only tweaking it allows is to install Java applications.

The E51 however is a smartphone that runs the Symbian operating system. It would allow me to install a wealth of 3rd party applications, and best of all, it has wifi. I use my cell phone regularly to check my email, and mostly in places with wireless networks I can tap into. It’s also very sturdy, because like the W890i it’s partly made of steel. And it too is very flat and fits in your pocket very easily. Feature-wise it’s perfect for me.

My only gripe about the E51 is it’s looks. I’ve never cared much for Nokia when it comes to their product design (the N800 internet tablet being a notable exception), but this one is particularly bad imho. What the hell was nokia’s design department thinking? The Sony phone has clear lines and shapes and a great brushed finish. Nokia’s offering however has all sorts of smooth curves that make no sense to me. I ended up opting for the black version simply because that’s the most sedated colour scheme available, and doesn’t make it stand out.

Nokia design anthology

I’ve been playing with the E51 for a few days now, and I’ve already used it to sync with my Google Calendar, watch YouTube clips, place Skype calls over wifi, and look up places through Google Maps. I’m pretty sure I made the right decision. I’ll just keep it in my pocket as much as I can to avoid being mocked.


  1. I was in the same boat as you – last 3 phones were SE’s (K750i, W800i and W810i) but the current line-up just didn’t suit. Chose the E51. I’m irritated by the message Inbox displaying “lastname firstname” regardless of how the Contacts preferences are set – does this bug you? Everything else is pretty sweet though…..


    Comment by Geoff — March 24, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  2. I hadn’t even noticed that, but most of my contacts do not have separate first and last name field filled in because I entered most of them on my my first ever cell phone, which didn’t exactly have a state of the art contacts manager 🙂

    Comment by Roy — March 24, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

  3. How did you get skype on the phone??

    Comment by Seb — April 23, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

  4. @Seb: Using a 3rd party app called <>Fring.

    Comment by Roy — April 23, 2008 @ 3:41 pm

  5. You said you watched youtube clips on E51? I did that too, for a while, then it just crashed and now i always get a “Connection time out…” Do you have any ideea on how to solve this?

    Comment by Tz3poo — June 29, 2008 @ 11:59 am

  6. I use a program called emTube to watch YouTube videos on my E51. The official site for the program has been down for ages, but the software itself has yet to fail me. Highly recommended!

    Comment by Roy — June 29, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

  7. How did you sync to your Google Calendar? I’m currently waiting for my E51, had an N70 on which the screen died on me, never got Google Calendar working on that. Had a “GCalSync” app that didn’t work.
    TIA for the info.

    Comment by pashabear — July 28, 2008 @ 9:38 am

  8. @pashabear: I’m using GooSync’s free service. It’s pretty basic but it works well. Albeit not to far into the future.

    Comment by Roy — July 28, 2008 @ 7:27 pm

  9. @ Tz3poo: Make sure your realplayer is setup correctly. Also check your settings for streaming. Make sure there is no setup for a proxy server. That solved the problem for me.

    Strangely mine stopped working exactly the same way, after a week or so without changing anything it suddenly didn’t work anymore. Bug?

    Comment by Skeef — November 22, 2008 @ 9:51 am

  10. Link: Nokia E71 - And I thought the E51 was impressive! | Roy Tanck's weblog
  11. Design wise, the SE is better.. but ill stick with nokia anyway 🙂

    Comment by Nokia Themes — October 29, 2009 @ 4:42 pm