Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nokia E7 hands-on: First impressions. Pros and Cons. Strengths and Weaknesses. That kind of thing... :)

Following on from my post last week about the Nokia E7, it was finally delivered, and I have been using it for about a week now.
I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this, the current flagship in Nokia's range of smartphones, and for the most part I was not disappointed with what I got.

The Nokia E7Image by whatleydude via Flickr

Let me run through the pros and cons (thus far at least...;):

Pros:

- The LCD display is excellent, to the point that you are left squinting at the screens of other phones that you come across in your day... :)
The size of the screen, coupled to the "Clearblack" technology that Nokia put into play here, make it a real contender for one of the best screens on any smartphone currently available.

- The GPS is a lot quicker to get a "fix" than on my previous handset (N97). On average it finds me within 1-2 minutes which is pretty good.
The free turn by turn navigation is also a great feature, although I have not really used that much. I trust that it shall not lead me astray on my future travels, but if it does, then it shall soon become a con rather than a pro :)

- The phone build quality and the materials used, are of a decent quality and feel. The E7 really looks the part of a serious business tool, and it feels that way in hand as well.

Symbian^3 OS is a great deal more stable than its predecessor, and a lot quicker.
Scrolling through photos is swift and slick, thanks (I would imagine) to the dedicated GPU that the E7 uses to accelerate graphics.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that HD games with resource-intensive graphics also run smoothly (Hero of Sparta, NFS Shift, Rally Master Pro etc.), which adds some cool gaming skills to the E7's already long list of capabilities.

- The Quickoffice Suite that ships with the phone is fantastic because it allows you to create, edit and view Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents.
I have not even scratched the surface of the package functionality yet, but I will be sure to give it a proper spin soon and report back.

- The way that the Nokia E7 integrates with the Nokia PC Software - Ovi Suite - makes it simple to handle phone functions without taking your eyes off your computer screen.
You can send and receive your messages from within the software, access your phone contacts, manage which country maps are installed on the phone for GPS usage, get your photos and videos to sync automatically to your PC, and a whole lot more.
You can also update software and firmware on the phone using Ovi Suite.

Most importantly, Nokia have finally released a stable, quick and user friendly version of the Ovi Suite. When it first replaced Nokia PC Suite, it was cumbersome, slow and downright horrid to use. Good job guys.

- The full QWERTY keypad is a joy to use - the buttons are comfortable and well spaced, and the keypad stretches almost the full length of the phone.
The hinge that slides the screen out of the way in order to access the keyboard, is well built and snaps into place with a solid thunk.
If it is anything like my N97 (which was dropped many, many times without breakage), it is built to last.

- Using the USB-on-the-go converter (included with the phone), allows an ordinary USB flash drive to plug into the phone.
The flash drive then shows up as one of the available storage drives in the file explorer.
A really convenient feature.

- The fixed focus camera is a mixed bag really. It's great because it is 8MP, and it is quick to reset between shots, owing to the lack of moving parts in the fixed focus lens. I am not a photographer or anything like that, but to my untrained eye it takes good shots.
Something like this - click to enlarge:

A colourful wendy house, as seen by the Nokia E7...

As for the cons of the camera, well that's under "Cons" below... :)
...and here they are:

Cons:

- Within 2 minutes of switching on the phone for the first time, it did the familiar Symbian / Nokia reboot :)
Having become used it happening occasionally on my N97, I took it with a pinch of salt.

It has since rebooted on its own again once, and frozen twice during an intense bout of Angry Birds...
Having a non-removable battery, I wondered how to get around the frozen phone issue - it turns out that holding the power button in for 10 seconds initiates a hard shutdown, accompanied by 3 short vibrations, after which the phone can be restarted again.

- The fixed focus camera, while it does have its advantages listed above, does not handle macro shots well.
Try to capture anything closer than 50cm and it's all just a blur.
This is one of the basic downsides of the fixed focus lens, and it's a problem for anybody who might often need to take close up snaps.

As you can see, the pros totally outweigh the cons right now, at least for me.

The Symbian "Anna" update has been promised by Nokia before August, so I am looking forward to see what that will bring with it.
Looking even further ahead, a rumoured update named Symbian "Belle", might make an appearance later in the year.
That's one of the nice things when buying a Nokia phone - the updates come frequently, and they often bring some really nice features with them.

Do you own a Nokia E7?
Share your thoughts by posting a comment below.

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