I’ve been using a Nokia E70 as my daily phone for about 6 months, and have recently been having a bit of gadget-angst about whether it really is the best phone for me.
A workmate has a Sony Ericsson M600i, which looks very sexy, so I thought I’d have an extended play with one (couple of days) to see how I liked it.? Given the interesting form factors of both of these phones, you could probably call this review “The battle of the quirky qwerties”.
Bearing in mind that I’m more comfortable with the E70 after using it for months, click through for my reasonably thorough observations.
- The M600i has no WiFi, nor a camera. Possibly not a big deal for most, but I use WiFi regularly at home for free browsing and occasionally as an easy way to get big files onto the phone if I don’t have a cable handy. With a young kiddie, the camera on the E70 comes in handy too.
- The M600i of course supports UMTS, whereas the E70 is EDGE only. Not having UMTS in my area, this was irrelevant for me, but if high-speed browsing blows your hair back, then this may be important. Personally the browsing speed on the E70 is fantastic.
- The screen on the M600i is bigger, but the resolution is about half of the E70. The result is that the E70 screen is lovely and vibrant, but you have to do a bit more scrolling than you would on the M600i. I personally prefer the E70, because the pixel density means you never get jaggy text, even with tiny font sizes.
- Because both the phones are based on Symbian 9, I thought the usability would be similar. Not so. The Series 60 (Nokia) and UIQ (Sony Ericsson) interfaces are so far removed from each other that it hardly bares comparison. S60 is very much more phone-oriented, whereas UIQ seems PDA-oriented. This probably stems from UIQ’s roots in the P900 series PDA-phones.
- The M600i is a touchscreen device, and the E70 is not. This ultimately comes down to personal preference, but my finding was that although the M600i is engineered to promote one-handed use, I often had to resort to the stylus. You can definitely drive the E70 100% one handed, unless of course you unfold the keyboard.
- Menu layouts were neither here nor there. Pretty much as easy to use on each device.
- The keyboard on the M600i is fine. It takes a little getting used to, but it works. Again I’d comment that you do have to resort to the touchscreen on the M600i to complete some tasks, most notably the soft-buttons on the bottom of the screen, which don’t actually have a hard-button analog. The E70 qwerty keyboard is fine. Sometimes the keys near the edges are small for my monster hands, but overall I found it quicker to type on. If I’m looking for a fault, the split layout of the E70 qwerty does cause your eyes to track back and forth between the two halves sometimes.
- The M600i sports an Opera web browser, and the E70 runs Nokia’s own browser based (loosely) on the same codebase as Apple’s Safari. Again, personal preference may differ, but I prefer the Nokia browser, with its user-friendly mini-map mode. This could be more of a screen resolution thing, because I found the blocky text on the M600i damn ugly when trying to read pages.
- Java seemed a bit snappier on the E70, and also Java apps like the Gmail mobile app seemed to run better. The two menu options for Gmail on the M600i were buried under a default ‘Menu’ button, whereas on the E70 they mapped automatically to the two soft-keys.
- I use Exchange 2003 at work, so love the push email functionality available on both phones. However, the push email on the M600i is flawed, because there is no ability to set a schedule for when it will run. On the E70 I can set it up for push email from 8am to 5pm Mon-Fri, but the M600i only has ‘Push email on’ or not. There’s no way I want my phone picking up push email all night, for both sanity and battery life!
- Calendar, messaging, contacts – all pretty much on par. Nothing stands out from either phone.
- The M600i looks better. Hands down. The E70 is a damn ugly phone.
- Both phones were running the latest available firmware as at the time of this post. In both cases this made them significantly more stable than the default firmware.
In conclusion, I’ve re-affirmed that the E70 is for me. Kinda sad, because I was looking for an excuse to change phones! Perhaps the E70 and I were meant to be together: we’re both ugly but functional.
If you come from the Sony Ericsson camp, you may be more comfortable with that phone, but personally I think the E70 offers more features and a more coherent user interface for a similar price.