It’s been many days since I have had Nokia E7 in my hand, but couldn’t post the review. Well, I have been little busy with college because term end came and submission and all that started. Anyway, I am writing review now. Few weeks ago WOMWorldNokia (now @Nokia_Connects ) sent me a review unit of Nokia E7 and I am still playing around with it. My Nokia N8 is still at Nokia Care for last couple of weeks as for further service and due to holidays of Diwali. So I was completely over Nokia E7 and being one and only phone with me, I got to know it much deeply than I may have got along with N8. All I can say now is, it was very nice time with Nokia E7.
Anyways, I have been user of Nokia N8 for more than a year now and Nokia E7, like a cousin of Nokia N8, contains many similarities with Nokia N8 in design and spces, so my review will take many points of the devices from the perspective of a Nokia N8 user.
Nokia, back in 2005, announced their E Series phones and till present they are creating one of the best business oriented smartphones in the market. Latest of this E Series is Nokia E7-00. Noka E7 possesses all the nice features that any Nokia E Series device have had. Well, those, who don’t have any idea about the E7, let me tell you briefly about the device. Nokia E7 possesses ARM 11 680 MHz processor and (currently) comes with Symbian Anna (soon to be Symbian Belle). It has 4″ Nokia Clear Black Display with nHD (360 x 640 pixels) resolution with Gorilla Glass. More detailed key features are below:
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
- Penta-band 3G with 10.2 Mbps HSDPA and 2 Mbps HSUPA
- Anodized aluminum unibody
- 4″ 16M-color ClearBlack AMOLED capacitive touchscreen of 640 x 360 pixel resolution
- Scratch resistant Gorilla glass display
- 8 megapixel fixed-focus camera with LED flash
- 720p video recording @ 25fps
- Symbian^3 OS
- 680 MHz ARM 11 CPU and 256 MB RAM
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- microHDMI port 720p TV-out functionality
- GPS receiver with A-GPS support and free lifetime voice-guided navigation
- Digital compass
- 16GB of on-board storage
- Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
- DivX and XviD video support
- Built-in accelerometer and proximity sensor
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
- Stereo FM Radio with RDS
- microUSB port with USB On-the-go
- Flash and Java support for the web browser
- Stereo Bluetooth 3.0
- Good quality audio
- Smart and voice dialing
- Office document editor preinstalled
The Box & Accessories
If you guys have seen the box of Nokia N8, it was thin and plain blue with just black outlined N8 on it. This time, Nokia came up with colorful box showing its features and design on its back side. Box is thicker than N8’s.
- Nokia E7-00
- Nokia Battery BL-4D (embedded)
- Nokia Connectivity Cable CA-179
- Nokia Adapter for HDMI CA-156
- Nokia Adapter Cable for USB OTG CA-157
- Nokia Stereo Headset WH-205
- Nokia High Efficiency Charger AC-10
- Nokia SU-36 (selected markets only)
- Quick start guide
Nokia E7 has elegant design and superior build quality. Construction of E7 is much similar with Nokia N8 with some minor changes and size. Nokia E7 weights 176g which is bit heavier but once you get used to it, you wont feel it any heavy. Moving from N8 to E7, i felt it quite heavier ( 41g more). But I am more addicted to its heavy feel. To be honest, considering metal body, Hardware QWERTY Keyboard, and super quality built, its fair weight.
Above the display, you will find front camera on right side and proximity and ambient light sensor on left.
On the top, microUSB port for charging and USB connectivity , a HDMI port, power button and 3.5 mm audio jack. This microUSB port has a white LED which turns on while charging.
You may be thinking it is lock slider, well you are wrong. It is volume slider actually. This is the first time I am seeing such slider for volume key. Apart from look, I didn’t find any advantage of it. I felt volume keys of Nokia N8 to be more usable. And You might be wondering about a slot near it. Well, its SIM card slot. Let me tell you, Nokia E7 has no expandable memory card slot. You are bound to 16 GB and again as a business phone, that may look okay. It has physical camera button also.
On the back side, you will see primary camera of E7 with dual LED flash. Unlike N8, there is no bulge of camera. Camera is flat.
Comparing with N8
After seeing above images, I think you will spot many minor changes in design compared to N8 as well as difference in the size. You must have noticed, in spite of Physical QWERTY KB, thickness of the devices is almost same as of N8. Nokia has done impressive work in keeping thickness as small as possible.
HW QWERTY Keyboard and Slider
One of the most beautiful design of something that Nokia E7 has is its Hardware Keyboard and Slider. Sliding the device may look trick for first time, but its quite smooth. At first time, I was afraid of closing device with a jerk but to my surprise, it was quite smooth. However, I am always worried to give it to someone new, as probably everyone give it more press than it should. But due to its durable design, it is less likely to get damaged. If you want to operate slider smooth, I would advice to push it small and it will open/close fully, no need to push it throughout.
Hardware keyboard is very well spaced and beautifully crafted to the device. I am more used to virtual KB and so it took me little more time to get used to this keyboard. As like Nokia’s defaul S^3 Virtual KB, keys are aligned to left and I personally don’t like it. I believe if alphabetic keys are in center alignment, usability is much better. However, I got used to it faster than I thought.
You will see arrow keys on the KB. Well, you may think where do they work. You can use it in menu for scrolling, in web browser as a mouse pointer. But to my disappointment, they don’t work inside the games (not to blame nokia but game developers).
Ctrl key works same way it works in desktops, Ctrl+c will copy, cntrl+v will paste.
Slider is tilted for more natural and comfortable usage.
Best usage I did of this was when I was travelling. I travel much and typing while in you are a bus is such a pain when road is not proper. I always end up typing something random on such road using virtual KB. But after having E7, I tried the physical keyboard on such road. Keys are bigger and well spaced. This design helps a lot in typing in such situation. I was able to type with any typos and this won my heart.
Nokia Clear Black Display
There were two things because of which I had chosen E7 as the Review Device among all other: 1. HW QWERTY KB and 2. Nokia CBD. I really wanted to know how much difference does Nokia CBD has over its normal AMOLED display. Well, result was impressive.
For those who don’t know about it, I would quote a paragraph from Nokia Conversation,
ClearBlack display isn’t a completely new type of display technology like AMOLED. It’s actually a method to reduce reflections on the screen and improve visual image quality, especially outdoors. ClearBlack ensures that the blacks you see really are just that – black – which in turn enhances the contrast of the display and makes the whole screen much easier to see. This will be especially useful for apps like Ovi Maps, which are likely to be used outside. Also, sharing pictures or other items on-screen with others will be a lot easier due to the technology that enables excellent viewing angles.
Let’s see, does it really makes contrast better? I have few pics to show you:
You will surely notice better contrast on E7 than Nokia N8’s AMOLED screen. Okay, I am sure someone may argue that reflection of flash in second image has made us feel that. Check the third image, you will see a tube light on E7. And again, critics can’t be stop, they will say it’s because CBD doesn’t reflect light. Well, you are right, CBD is impressive in that aspect but I have personally verified E7 to have better contrast over N8.
Now, it was the time to check the performance of CBD in sunlight. You can clearly see the difference. E7 shows almost no reflection. Also, you can easily see and read everything in direct sunlight. I was really impressed with this.
Nokia E7 started shipping with Symbian^3 and currently it is running Symbian^Anna. Well, I am pretty sure, many of you may start babbling about Symbian. Symbian is reaching it’s life end gradually but still IT’S NOT DEAD YET.
Symbian Belle phones are already on shelves and I think it would be a foolish thing if I go deep talking about Symbian Anna. I will rather brief it to its business purpose and the changes I spotted in E7 from N8. You may like to read my another post about Symbian Anna-Changelog
As you all know, Symbian Anna allows to add three home screen, each divided in six slot to add widgets to it.
Nokia E7 features same typical Symbian Menu. One different thing you will noticed is, Office Directory is moved to Menu, instead of under Application directory. Being a business phone, this really makes sense.
After Symbian Anna, you will get Microsoft Communicator inside your Contacts. It will be much usable for a business persons to stay connected with others.
Office directory contains business oriented apps. Apps to connect securely to an intranet, extranet or VPN using IPSec providing more security, QuickOffice for Office editing and viewing, Mail For Exchange, F-Secure Anti-Theft for remote wipe, security and locating your device remotely. There are lots of apps available in Nokia Store for business.
You can see the Swype’s virtual KB. Nokia E7 and similar device use nHD resolution and so they have 16:9 aspect ratio. This provide less width compared to many smartphones available in the market. It was difficult to get used to typing on the 3.5″ screen with 16:9 aspect ration on N8 as keys used to be small and typing efficient with big fingers was difficult at first. Nokia E7, which has 4″ screen, resolve this to much extend. You can type easing on that bigger screen.
I have never tried E7 on PR1.0 or PR1.2 but I heard it was providing Virtual Keyboard even when you have slid out the Physical Keyboard. Well, of course, this is irritation but this isn’t the case with Symbian Anna.
One difference I noticed Symbian Anna of E7 is a new submenu in Settings Menu. It is Slide handling. You can set few action on sliding the phones.
Some more difference were, strangely, Split input works in Conversation in Messaging of E7 but not in N8! Another thing is, if you are having multiple phone numbers in single contact and when you call or send text, it will ask you to select one number from all (if default is not set). On Nokia N8 is show just three contacts at a time while scrolling while E7 shows four! This are minor difference and I think many of you won’t be interested in this but I though just to share it.
Well, If you are using Symbian than you are less like to miss Gravity, best client for different Social Service like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare etc. You may also be interested about its experience on E7.
You will really be glad to know how well it handles physical keyboard. It is real beauty. You can also use the arrow keys to switch between different views and to scroll in the menu. You can directly start typing anytime to post a new tweet or status. I really appreciate @janole for this well design.
Symbian is boring to many but under the hood, it is very efficient and this surely help proving greater battery life. Multitasking is much better with Symbian.
Overall, Symbian is good but I will say, it is much behind the other OSes in the Market in term of UI and look and feel. However, Symbian Belle is much promising and soon it will be rolled out for all Symbian Anna devices.
Nokia E7 has EDoF 8 MP Camera with dual LED flash. It is a fixed focus camera. You may see it as con. Well, I also had the same misconception till few month ago. After some talk with Nokia’s Imaging Guru @PhoneDaz and some other tweeps like @michaelxhell I cleared some of my doubts about EDoF. Many naive camera users don’t really play with Focus setting. They rely more on auto settings. IMO, they really don’t have any need of AF camera. General users takes most photographs of the objects that are more than 50cm far or the landscapes. EDoF cameras can keep all those objects in focus that are at least 50 cm far. That means, you don’t need to worry about the focus of the object that is at least 50 cm far. Those who aren’t good photographer but just do it to capture their beautiful moments or just for hobby will surely find it better option. Apart from this, EDoF camera has many other benefits over AF. AF camera need expensive mechanical hardware to change the focus. This increase the cost of camera. This mechanism also make the camera hardware bulky as you can see in the Nokia N8. Going for fixed focus has this reason also. They let the designer keep the thickness of E7 optimum even after adding HW QWERTY KB. Another benefit of this camera is, you don’t need to wait till focus is set to capture the image. This eliminates the delay of focusing. You can instantly take the photographs and this really helps when you need to capture something in hurry, say Fireworks. I took lots of photographs and result was impressive.
Well, I am not very good photographer but I was able to capture nice pictures with Nokia E7. You will notice that Dog is also in focus nicely.
However, EDoF has some disadvantages also. One is, you can’t take close up or macro photos. You can’t keep any object in focus which is near than 50 cm. This may be a great problem for a person like me who like taking macros. Nokia E7 is a business phone and I believe apps like Document Scanner can help you scan the documents using camera and send/email it. This may be a handy thing for a business person. But Fixed Focus camera can’t do it! Here, you are going to miss AF camera too much in such aspects. You can see in the image above, you can’t read them properly, though it is not that much unreadable too!
Considering all this points, I am not going to rant over Nokia’s decision of Fixed Focus camera.
Nokia E7 can capture 720p videos at 25 fps. Here are two sample videos I took at two different beaches.
In second video, if you look carefully, you will miss the continuous autofocus in recording. However, video result is good too. Better mic gives you clear sound.
Performance and Usability
Here, I will define performance on speed, battery life and over all usage.
Symbian Anna run pretty smoothly on E7 and almost no lag.
Battery life is shorter than I expect. I use it more for texting, browsing, some photography and (these days) almost no music and it barely runs 24 hours.
You all knows it has nHD resolution and I believe resolution on 4″ display should be higher. Actually, you won’t see any sort of aliasing effect or distortion at this resolution but still a bigger resolution is desired. When I used E7 for first time, everything looked much bigger than I used to get on N8 because of its smaller resolution. Nokia should have consider this point better. But I can guarantee you, this don’t have any bad effect.
Over all, this devices is quite beautiful in hand and easy to use.
And here we reach to end of the review. At the end, I will conclude that Nokia E7 is a device with elegant design and decent built quality make the devices stand in one of the finely designed device with good hardware but it still runs a Symbian which may be a down side. In this price tag, you will surely get other devices with better OS and better processing powers. If you really need a device with physical QWERTY keyboard, I will highly recommend it otherwise I will tell you to consider other options available in the market. Going for Nokia E7 purely depends on your usage and liking.
One thing is sure, after using Nokia E7 for so long, it won’t be an easy thing for me to move back to Nokia N8. I am kinda addicted to E7’s 4″ CBD display and physical qwerty keyboard. However, I miss my N8 much when it comes to photography. If I consider my usage and liking, I will surely choose N8 over E7 putting price factor in mind, but this thing will surely differ for you based on your usage.