Two Weeks With The Nokia E7
The kind folks at WOMWorldNokia sent me an E7 to review for two weeks. The device had caught my eye in a phone store a month or so ago and I was immediately taken by its spectacular design: aluminium body with a 4” screen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The phone feels of exceptional quality in the hand, continuing the level of hardware for which Nokia is revered. The E7 is comfortable to hold and the menu button is sensibly placed in the centre, unlike the N8 which has its menu button on the left hand side, making it difficult to access with one hand. When I received the phone I set about getting my contacts and data onto it from my N900, which, thanks to the sync option in all Nokia phones, was a breeze – simply turn Bluetooth on in both devices and it automatically copies all the data across. Within a matter of minutes I was up and running.
Next came installing apps and games. The Ovi Store continues to impress me, each time I open it it looks slicker than the last time and there is no shortage of things to install. I found a free theme, some important apps and installed Nokia’s free gift – a plethora of games including Angry Birds, Spiderman HD and Assassin’s Creed HD. A wonderful feature of the Ovi Store that other devices don’t have is the ability to pay for something by adding it to your carrier bill, meaning no need to add credit card details. This is a gem of a feature that I sorely miss when using another system and it allowed me to buy paid apps without needing to grab my wallet. With the games and apps I wanted it was time to add them to the homescreen, and homescreen customisation was extremely easy too: simply long press the screen and add widgets, shortcuts or contacts.
With the device set up as I wanted it the next thing to do was test the browser. The Symbian browser works well but no one would argue that it could do with some work, especially for someone like myself who has been using the N900. On the E7 the pages load relatively quickly and for most sites display just like a normal website, although certain pages, like my favourite blog on blogspot.com, rendered so the text was impossible to read. The page renders fine on Opera, N900 and the Samsung Galaxy S II browser so clearly it’s something to do with Symbian’s browser, and a browser that doesn’t let you view certain pages isn’t ideal. That said, the Anna update includes a browser revamp so perhaps that will fix certain rendering issues.
The keyboard on the E7 is simply a work of art. At first I thought I would miss the kickstand feature of the N900, but because the E7 screen pops out at an angle it resembles a laptop, meaning media can be watched with the keyboard open and the screen popped up, saving the hassle of holding it for the duration of a video. The keyboard itself seems similar to a Macbook, with the keys soft, flat and spaced apart making typing a dream. The keys are laid out slightly differently to the N900 so it did take some getting used to, but after a few uses I was able to type very quickly. And just like the N900, typing a name from any homescreen will jump to that contact. If you’re on the homescreen you can use the cursor keys to move along the widgets and shortcuts, or between screens even, and a tap of the Enter key will open whichever icon you are on.
Having got the device set up and used to its functionality it was time to make some calls and test the call quality. There is little that can be said on this topic so suffice it to say calls made and received were crystal clear with none dropped.
The E7’s camera is full-focus rather than auto-focus, meaning that it does not focus on one particular object like the N8 and it also lacks close-up mode. Not a big deal for most people and it still takes great quality photos, but it would be nice to have a higher quality camera. But it has to be remembered that the E-series phones are business-centred not media-centred, and so it doesn’t pack the same features as the N8 in this department. On the flipside, though, it does have the keyboard and a native office client, allowing viewing and creating of files.
Email works well, but oddly it appears notifications only appear on the widgets – thankfully you can have one for each inbox, so I had one homescreen dedicated to email widgets – but there is no icon notification like there is for missed calls or received text messages. This is something I would like to see fixed in the update.
The AMOLED screen is beautiful, displaying images in glorious shades and tones, and it is easy to use in sunlight.
The E-series devices have long had incredible battery life, especially when compared to the N-series. The E7 is no exception and sometimes I thought it was impossible to kill it. To give an idea, my N900 could easily die by early evening with some browsing and playing games for an hour or so. I had the E7 connected to wifi all day, constantly checking emails, along with a Twitter widget and a news widget. The screen was rarely off because of my playing around with it and my second day with it I made some calls and sent some texts, a bunch of emails, spent a few hours browsing the web, checking the social networks, a few hours playing games, listening to music, in addition to the aforementioned widgets, and left it connected to wifi overnight. By the next morning it was still at 40%, meaning in 24 hours it had lost 60% charge with reasonably heavy usage. One of the main drawbacks to having a battery that cannot be removed is that it can’t be swapped when it drains, but the battery in the E7 is so good that this should not be an issue – and this is definitely something the iPhone could do with.
So how does the E7 perform day to day? Overall, it’s an extremely capable device that not only looks incredibly stunning but also performs very well. It’s a pity that Nokia haven’t released a hybrid between the N8 and E7, but as yet the two devices are firmly divided between media and business. That aside, for those who don’t need the best camera on any phone or an FM transmitter, there’s not much you’ll miss from the N8. The E7 can be read as mass storage on a computer, it can record HD films and they can be watched on the phone or through a TV, videos can be played fullscreen, it automatically connects to known wifi or data package for constant internet access and it is very customisable. Documents can be created on the fly, social networks can be updated and viewed from anywhere at anytime and the keyboard makes typing anything very enjoyable – regardless of length. The maps feature is top class, with navigation for walking or driving, local attractions and even checking in to social networks. There is a native video editor and photo editor for those users who like to create something unique and of course these can take advantage of the built-in ‘share’ function to show online friends.
All in all, the E7 is a device that most people would be happy with. I was certainly sad to see it go when the trial ended.