Nokia E71: Speed Metal

Nokia E71There are two things you need to know about the Nokia E71. They are:

  • It’s very fast; and
  • It’s very metal.

It’s sad that I describe a phone as fast simply because it responds the way you would expect: you press a key, and stuff happens. It’s not like most other smart phones in that respect. I’ve come to expect slow interfaces from these phones as a trade-off for advanced features in small packages. My iPhone for example: press the contacts icon then count to 5 while you wait for the contacts app to load and be ready. The E71 on the other hand responds like a well drilled soldier, snapping to attention at the slightest prodding.

And this phone is metal. Not metal in the Vim Fuego, “Hello Castle Donnington!!” sense, but real, physical metal. Even the battery cover is a not insubstantial sheet of aluminium. The build quality is flawless, without the usual rattles and creaks that you get from plastic phones, and the design looks a lot better in person than in photos. The metal does give the phone a fair weight. Not in a bad way, but rather a good “I could chuck this phone through a window in an emergency” kind of way.

Update: someone commented that I make the E71 sound heavy. It’s not. The E71 is 127 grams compared to the iPhone’s 133. I just feel that if you threw an iPhone at a window it would bounce, whereas the E71 would plow on through. Look, honestly, I don’t know why I went down the whole window-breaking metaphor route in the first place, but now I’m stuck here. Help. I’m stuck in a metaphor and I can’t get out!

I won’t go into detail on the features and capabilities of the phone. If you want that information, you can read any number of super in-depth reviews of the phone, or for that matter just about any other S60 phone, because the features are largely the same across all Nokia S60s. It does have the usual bevy of features you’d expect from a high-end smartphone:

  • Speedy 3G: Quad-band GSM, UMTS, HSDPA
  • GPS (including A-GPS)
  • Bluetooth (including stereo A2DP)
  • WiFi (802.1b/g)
  • IMAP, POP, and MS Exchange email connectivity
  • 3.2mp camera plus front-facing VGA camera
  • FM Radio with RDS

I understand it is de rigueur these days to compare any new smartphone with the one true smartphone. In this case the E71 holds up pretty well. By my reckoning the iPhone outsmarts the E71 in only two areas: web browsing and application availability; while the E71 simply stomps all over the iPhone in terms of user interface speed. The web browser is adequate, but nowhere near as easy to use as Safari on the iPhone. On the application front, there are thousands of applications available for the S60 platform, but the lack of App Store, and the generally average design of S60 applications let the side down. Once again His Jobsness has outsmarted the incumbents by routing around existing business models: the closed, proprietary App Store has (by virtue of the developer business model) attracted a higher class of developer than Nokia could ever hope to attract to the S60 platform.

Still, for your enterprise user, or perhaps a dedicated Nokia user, I’ll say quite happily that the E71 sits squarely at the top of the qwerty phone pecking order. Get one.

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