The Nokia E series has traditionally been an uninspiring collection of boxy phones, but last year saw a dramatic upturn in its fortunes. The Nokia E51 and E65 took the market by storm -- and it wasn't just businessmen buying them. The E series is beginning to look as attractive as its multimedia N-series siblings.
The Nokia E71 is the Finnish giant's latest addition to the E series and will be available in July. Pricing is set to be around €350 (around £280) SIM-free, and it will most likely be free on a monthly contract. But will it be another email knockout?
The E71 is one of Nokia's most attractive smart phones to date. Many phones with Qwerty keypads lack a certain finesse, but the E71 wouldn't look out of place in an Aston Martin. Not only does it look good, its attractive metal casing feels very classy and it's not too heavy or too light.
A 10mm thick profile ensures it fits inside a pocket comfortably, even though it's wider than your average handset. The screen and Qwerty keypad are well laid-out -- a series of shortcut keys below the screen make it easy to access your emails, calendar and contacts. Although the keys are small, they're very usable, because each is raised, making it easy to distinguish between them. In fact, the E71's keypad is one of the best Qwerty keypads we've ever laid fingers on.
We inadvertently dropped the E71 a few times from waist height and it carried on working as if nothing had happened, thanks to its resilient casing. It truly is a stunning looking phone that will stand the test of time.
Email-centric, business-oriented phones can be dull as ditchwater, but the E71 isn't lacking exciting features. Like the Nokia E90, this smart phone boasts more features than your average Nokia.
Having said that, it gets the basics right first. We can happily say that setting up your personal email, such as Gmail or Yahoo, is really easy. All you have to do is put in your email address and password -- that's it. The E71 also supports Microsoft Exchange, although it's a little harder to set that up, so you might want to get some help from your office IT guy, depending on your phone skills.
Connecting to the Internet to receive emails and browse Web sites is possible almost everywhere you go, via HSDPA (3.5G) or Wi-Fi. Using the built-in Wi-Fi scanner, it's easy to find a hotspot and connect to it. To save battery life, you should turn off Wi-Fi scanning when you're not using it.
Surfing the Net is better than with most built-in browsers. Pages are displayed in full and, interestingly, the E71's browser supports Flash and lets you watch YouTube videos, although it's fairly sluggish -- audio streams faster than video.
Because it runs on the S60 operating system, you can download a variety of programs, including our favourite mobile apps, Opera Mini and Google Maps. The E71 packs GPS, so you can use Google Maps' sat-nav feature to accurately track your location and get directions.
You can also use the pre-installed Nokia Maps for navigating around town. It does everything that Google Maps Mobile does, but with a few extras, including being able to save a screenshot and voice navigation, but you will have to pay for the latter.
A small but noteworthy feature is the E71's start page. It cleverly lets you display emails, apps and other features, but that's not all. You can set up one start page for home and one for work, flicking between the two depending on what you're up to. It's useful if you like to keep certain aspects of your life separate, such as work and personal emails.
The only feature that left us very disappointed was the 3.2-megapixel camera. Its shutter speed was slow and it took blurry photos. We hope the next model in the E series offers a better camera.
For a phone with so many features, we were really impressed with how long it could last on one charge. In our real-world testing, we used GPS, Wi-Fi and HSDPA regularly throughout the day, and we managed to squeeze two days out of the battery before it needed recharging. If you want to expand battery life even further, switching off all non-essential connections, such as Wi-Fi and HSDPA, helps significantly.
Most business phones leave you yearning for something a little more refined, something that will get the job done but also work well as a phone for home. The Nokia E71 is the business phone we've all been waiting for.
It looks gorgeous, it works well and most importantly it packs enough features to deal with a smorgasbord of situations. We're disappointed with its camera, but we think this is one of the best Nokia email phones to date, and highly recommend it if you're looking for a phone with a Qwerty keypad.
Edited by Nick Hide