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Review: Nokia E7

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nokiae7angleSMARTPHONE

Nokia has lost ground in the smartphone market to the iPhone, BlackBerry and the numerous Android devices.

The Finnish giant, still the world’s No 1 mobile manufacturer, has had mixed results with recent offerings like the N97 and the N8.

But now Nokia has taken the best features of these two products and come up with its latest smartphone – the E7.   

The device has a 4-inch touchscreen display with a 640 x 360 pixel resolution.

This ClearBlack screen offers improved visibility in direct sunlight which is often where we use our mobiles.

DESIGN

The E7 has the same tapered edges we saw with N8 with 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB and HDMI out ports along the top edge.

Along the side is the lock switch with the sim card tray, volume/zoom key and camera key on the opposite edge.

Nokia's E7 can be controlled with the 4-inch touchscreen or with the keyboard

On the back is the 8 megapixel camera and flash which is also capable of capturing widescreen 720p resolution high definition videos. As usual with Nokia devices, pictures and videos captured with the E7 were very impressive.

At first glance the E7 looks like most other smartphones on the market but nudge the screen to the right and it snaps up to reveal a four-row full qwerty keyboard.

This mechanism worked smoothly most of the time and only stuck during our testing two or three times.

This puts the screen at a nice angle for easy viewing and turns the device into a micro laptop. It was even stable enough for two finger typing and was equally comfortable being held in the hands to let your thumbs do the work.

We found this was also a great way to position the screen for viewing pictures or video content.

The Nokia E7 mechanism puts the screen at a comfortable viewing angle

PERFORMANCE

At the heart of the E7 is a 680Mhz processor. While it wasn’t running at a snail’s pace it did feel noticeably slower than other smartphones on the market.

The E7 runs the Symbian 3 operating system – the same as the N8 – which is exclusive to Nokia devices.

Those already using Nokia devices will be familiar with this system albeit probably an earlier version.

Users can customise up to three different screens with widgets including news, sport, weather and social network updates.

It’s possible to set up a widget to give you live Facebook and Twitter updates on your homescreen as well as update your status across multiple social networks with one entry.

The screen is responsive and was a little smoother than previous models and it is easy to move from screen to screen and app to app.

With so many features at your fingertips the E7 is suited to a corporate user.

The E7 can link to all of your email accounts including Exchange for business users.

It’s also possible to set up VPN (virtual private network) for secure access to a company intranet.

Having a keyboard of this quality make it easy to power through lengthy emails and messages.

Email attachments can also be viewed and edited on the E7

It is easy to type on the Nokia E7's four row qwerty keyboard

Another strong feature of the device is the GPS and the Ovi Maps which offers free car and pedestrian navigation. Users travelling overseas can also get the latest country maps for free.

Speaking of Ovi is it also the gateway for other apps and widgets but the amount available is still way behind those for iPhone and Android devices.

The excellent camera has a dual LED and face recognition and taking pictures and shooting video is easy thanks to the dedicated camera button on the top edge so you’re holding the E7 like you would a regular digital camera.

With HDMI Out, users can view their pictures and video on their high definition flatscreen TV. An adaptor cord which connects to the E7 and then to a regular HDMI cable is included.

Internal memory is limited to 16GB but it would have been nice to have a microSD slot to expand this.

CONCLUSION

The Nokia E7 is a fine piece of hardware with a great keyboard, vibrant touchscreen and good camera.

Users familiar and comfortable with Nokia devices will find the Symbian software on the E7 easy to move on to.

But it is also the E7’s Achilles heel.

Symbian still trails iPhone and Android operating systems and feels rather dated in comparison.

Unfortunately Nokia has ruled out the possibility of running Android on its devices and, in the near future, will be adopting Windows Phone 7 as the onboard operating system.

Nokia E7 would have been a far more compelling product running Android and would have given other brands like HTC, Sony Ericsson and Samsung a run for their money.

But all we can do is wonder what may have been.

Nokia E7

Price: $929

Three and a half stars (out of five)

www.nokia.com.au