As we wait in anticipation for Nokia to embrace Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, Nokia continues to roll out the red carpet for many of its devices that still run on its fairly new Symbian^3 OS. Among that array was the much-awaited release of the Nokia E7 smartphone which touted to let owners juggle their business as well as casual dealings with ease. We immediately jumped in to review the dark gray colored handset and fathom for ourselves just whether this device does indeed do justice to all the hype it has garnered.
Glancing at the Nokia E7 handset in hand, we couldn’t help but compare it to the previously unveiled N8 which was also much celebrated when it entered stores. For starters, the overall shape seemed to bear some resemblance to the smooth round-edges and large screen of the latter. The anodized aluminum casing and contoured feel gave it that added shine as far as style is concerned. This striking factor would certainly turn a head or two while on the move. Adding to the design is another color, a subtle shade of silver white for those who prefer to travel in the ‘lighter’ side. The Nokia E7 hit our desk complete with its expected knick-knacks such as charger, user manual and a pair of earphones as well as HDMI and USB cables. The latter came in quite handy for enjoying phone content on the TV as well as gaining access to goodies stored in our flash drives.
And on our desk does the E7 sit in all its glory, with dimensions of 123.7 x 62.4 x 13.6 mm and weighing just 176g with the battery. As clear as day was the surface without any call or answering buttons save for the Menu key that sat below the screen. The USB connector, charging indicator, HDMI connector, power key and Nokia AV connector were all located atop, enabling a pair of headphones or speakers that include a 3.5mm jack to be paired with the dedicated slots. The left edge accommodated the Lock switch while the other side made way for volume/zoom and convenient camera keys. No need to get out your scalpel for surgically opening the battery compartment when it’s time to insert your SIM as it has a dedicated SIM card slot for the same. On the rear, was the camera flash and lens sitting alongside the loudspeaker and microphone.
One of the main highlights of the E7 phone would be the QWERTY keypad. And quite rightly so, it was convenient and comfortable to type out messages and navigate through the menu and widgets. We owed this experience to the spaciously strewn keys as well as the allotted space behind the popped-up screen for our index fingers. Although we found flipping the screen a bit dodgy at first, some practice and that magician-like sleight of hand technique was all it took to prop it up without any hassle. The policy, ‘sharing is caring’ was observed as we placed the device atop a table to watch content along with friends and family. The speakers, however which are situated at the bottom of the handset played party-pooper and gave the sound a raw resonance.
The large, clear 101.6mm AMOLED screen that boasted of 16:9 nHD 640 x 360 pixels was our portal to enjoying movies and videos, viewing content and even flicking through pictures. Nokia’s ClearBlack display was a blessing especially while traversing outdoors. The E7 boasted of a responsive touchscreen that made for easy access without needing to dig our fingers into the display. At first, there seemed to be a complete mish-mash of icons strewn everywhere but once we were accustomed to the settings, widgets could be tweaked by simply tapping the homescreen. We could set alarms, seamlessly edit profiles and create calendar entries for that ‘oh so important date’ directly on the allotted space. A serving of up to three customizable homescreens enabled the generous splashing around of shortcuts, menus, widgets, themes and icons.
Among the options found in the Menu were Contacts, Web, Music, Messaging and Photos as well as Office that opened up to a plethora of choices for the ‘suit-clad’ alternate personality. Fumbling around for the right words or wondering whether that text has a spelling error can be avoided as this segment houses a Dictionary option. Other choices include Adobe Reader, Notes, Recorder, Zip, File Manager, F-Secure and Msg. reader. We dived right into surfing the Internet which was quite responsive and quick without much lag. Social networking websites like Facebook could be accessed with ease. As far as viewing YouTube videos goes, the sound was a complete turn off although the video quality seemed pretty decent.
While conversing with loved ones, we found the voice quality to be clear and audible. But with such a responsive touchscreen and comfortable QWERTY keypad, we wonder whether owners would prefer observing the principle of ‘less talk, more thumb action’. The E7 lasted for up to a whole day without needing an electric juice refill with moderate usage. Various ‘groovy’ options such as music player, Ovi Music store and Ovi Music Unlimited service were available along with the ability to sway to the tunes running along our local airwaves via stereo FM radio with RDS support. Music lovers can expect a decent listening experience through the provided earphones or any other headset. A word of caution – you’d rather refrain from playing DJ as the device’s loudspeaker delivers jarring audio minus any clarity.
Given the E7 phone includes a mouthful of interesting features, those who snap up everything in their path may be a bit disappointed with the fitted camera on this phone despite its 8MP resolution. Yes, it’s a big number but the quality certainly fell below our expectations. The camera settings were also quite limited and offered options that extended to just dual LED flash, face recognition, and secondary camera fashioned for video calls. The only saving grace we see emerging here is the video coverage with both picture quality and sound being quite decent. Videos were reproduced in HD quality at 720p resolution and recorded at a respectable 25fps. There’s also support for H.264 and MPEG-4 codecs alongside settings for white balance, scene, color tone and video light.
As our title aptly suggests, the E7 caters to both business as well as casual needs of a handset owner.
The QWERTY keypad with spaced keys comes in handy for a comfortable typing experience.
The E7 sports a classy overall appearance with its impressive chassis, smooth edges and smart tinge.
No peeking at the innards of this handset as the company deprives owners of a microSD slot with only 16GB built-in memory to satisfy all storage needs.
Shutter-bugs sporting a tie and carrying along a copy of the Wall Street Journal under their arm may just be disappointed with the camera. You might even find them exclaiming aloud, ‘What? No auto-focus?’
The interface lagged at times which made us feel like getting down on our knees and praying for something more intelligent, maybe something infused within iOS and Android devices.
The E7 tagline ‘Success needs no desk’ seems to be apt as actions such as sealing a business deal, chalking out a hectic schedule or just relaxing, watching videos could all be executed with ease. Although it shines bright with many innovative plus points like HDMI-out and large display, there are a few negatives such as camera and audio that manage to creep up, tainting what could have been the perfect offering from Nokia. A lag or two also made it hard to completely enjoy what the smartphone had to offer in totality. The Nokia E7 is priced at Rs. 29,500 and scores an 8 out of 10 on our rating meter.