Symbian^3 handsets seem to be plagued with constant delays regardless of when they’re announced and the Nokia E7 was no exception to this patience-testing trend.
The latest flagship smartphone in the Nokia’s business-orientated Eseries range is being compared to the Finnish company’s previous star-performer the Nokia N8 owing to its impressive specs and sleek look. But was it worth the wait like the N8 was?
You can tell from the moment you open the box that the Nokia E7 is part of the manufacturer’s latest Symbian range as it looks almost identical to the Nokia N8. We liked what we saw though, especially as the straight edges make this handset a little different from the rest. Overall, it’s very clean cut with the 4-inch display joined only by the menu button up front with all the other ports and keys neatly integrated in to its frame.
However, our hearts sank a little as soon as we picked the E7 up. Yes, the smooth aluminium casing oozes good quality but we could feel every bit of its weighty 176 grams. Things only went from bad to worse when it came to sliding out the full QWERTY keyboard. It’s a lot tougher to pop out than on other slider handsets and the hinge proved to be a nasty little thing too. If your fingers are in the wrong place when you pop the QWERTY up, they get a serious pinch. However, the keyboard did manage to pull back some points on usability as the keys are nicely spaced out making it really easy to type on.
The Nokia E7′s 4-inch AMOLED touchscreen is a great asset for the handset to have. As you would expect, it produces colourful and crisp images but the piece de resistance has to be the ClearBlack technology our Finnish friends have thrown into the mix. This improves the colour contrast to create deeper blacks and also improves the screen’s sunlight legibility. We ventured out into the lovely springtime sun to see if the technology was as good as Nokia makes out and sure enough, we could see the screen perfectly.
Power and Operating System
Powering up the E7 saw us greeted by the newest version of Nokia’s Symbian^3 operating system and despite the appearance of the oft-slated OS, it didn’t turn our frowns upside down like the finger injuring QWERTY did. Although Symbian^3 is nowhere near as intuitive as Android or iOS (and requires a bit of thought to get around), it still did the job and would have made for a reasonably pleasant user experience had it not been for the torpid processor.
Nowadays, we’re used to 1GHz offerings and the like, and weren’t prepared for the slowness of the 680MHz processor Nokia has lumbered the E7 with. The three customisable homescreens you’re given to put your own stamp on is a commendable inclusion but flicking between them was incredibly sluggish as the handset struggled to keep up. The same goes for when we were using the browser – pinch to zoom was responsive to the touch, but every movement was jerky, making the E7 appear to have a mind of its own. We can do slow and steady, but we just don’t expect it to come from a handset with flagship status.
The Nokia E7 comes with direct access to the Ovi Store and there are some neat widgets to be found hidden within the handset such as Notifications, which pulls your latest Facebook and Twitter updates directly to your homescreen and keeps all your social feeds close at hand.
Internet: We briefly mentioned the Nokia E7′s browsing capabilities above and although it has all the right ingredients to offer something great (Flash Lite support, 3G and Wi-Fi connections and a lovely big screen to view pages on), the processor lets the whole experience down as pages were slow to load up and browsing using the touchscreen was far from ideal. The keyboard can be used when on the web if you lose patience with the unresponsiveness offered by the touchscreen, however, we’d say that using the keys is equally as laborious.
The E7 hits the right spot on the email front though which is where its business credentials really shine through. It offers real-time push emails with Mail for Exchange, shows your personal and work accounts in the same view, and syncs your calendar with Microsoft Outlook.
Camera: For a business phone, the E7′s got a pretty impressive camera. It’s an 8 megapixel job complete with a fixed focus and dual-LED flash and there’s a front-facing VGA on offer too. As well as being able to capture HD video at 720p, you can also edit videos and pictures using the dedicated editing apps. It’s great to use but we can’t help but feel that Nokia would have been better off concentrating its efforts on the hardware rather than fun features not all business users want or need.
- Music player – Supports MP3, WAV, eAAC+ and WMA files
- Video player – Supports DivX, XviD, MP4, H.264, H.263 and WMV files
- 16GB storage
- 256MB RAM
- 1GB ROM
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- A-GPS with Ovi Maps
- HDMI port with Dolby Digital Plus
- Document editor
- Bluetooth 3.0
- 5 hours talk time (3G)
- Available in 5 different colours
Unfortunately, there are more bad things than good about the Nokia E7. We eventually got used to the unusual QWERTY keyboard, but we’d have to say that we’d be pushed towards more functional (and lighter) QWERTY sliders over this one. The slow processor was the biggest let down though, as the E7 could have been so much better if it wasn’t so sluggish. If you want to get important corporate documents edited and emailed on the go, this particular business partner is perhaps a bit too slow off the mark.
After waiting since September to get our hands on this handset, the Nokia E7 was, generally speaking, an anti-climax when compared to its other business phone rivals. It may look the part but once you delve inside, it was hard to shake off the niggles we had with it, particularly the processor. Its good points were great though, especially the easy-to-type-on QWERTY (once you slid it out). While we wouldn’t call it the businessman’s best friend, if you want a handset that can work and play, and you’re not all that bothered about top-notch specs, you should get along with the Nokia E7 just fine.