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Nokia E7 review

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Nokia has been putting up efforts to maintain a stronghold share in the mobile handset market. Since the past one year, their market share has been going down. Their old and trustworthy platform, Symbian is trying hard to the job.
The Symbian^3 platform has been quite an achievement by Nokia and Symbian as it delivers the true potential of Nokia’s smart phones. And the Symbian Anna (PR2.0), well it just takes to a better level. Here I review the Nokia E7, which I believe is a worthy competitor in the smart phone market. I wish I could’ve tested the phone with the PR2.0 update; however Nokia has delayed the update until early July.

Retail Package contents:

  • Handset
  • Wall charger
  • USB-data cable
  • HDMI adapter
  • USB-on-the-go adapter
  • Headset
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Features:
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • Penta-band 3G with 10.2 Mbps HSDPA and 2 Mbps HSUPA
  • 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 RAMWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • microHDMI port 720p TV-out functionality
  • GPS receiver with A-GPS support
  • 16GB of on-board storage
  • DivX and XviD video support
  • Built-in accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM Radio with RDS, FM transmitter
  • microUSB port with USB On-the-go
  • Flash and Java support for the web browser
  • Bluetooth 3.0

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Design
The design of the handset is probably the best in class. It seems like a larger version of the N8, however only a little short in features to impress you like the N8 does. The anodized aluminium body feels strong and sturdy in the hand. Nokia has made the handset very thin at about 14mm and still managed to have a tilt-slide out display with a full 4-row QWERTY keyboard and an 8MP camera onboard.
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The 4-inch capacitive touch screen is quite responsive and the display is pretty bright and nicely visible in sunlight. There are tiny sensors above the display and also a front facing camera with a VGA resolution. A single menu key below the display is placed right in the middle, for easy access. The slider lock key on the left is smooth and seems pretty much intact unlike my N97 lock key which broke in about 1 year of usage. The camera key is a simple single –press key and is not the usual half-step press key, as there is no auto-focus feature in the camera. The volume key has been replaced by a rocker type slider which slides up and down which can also be used to zoom in or zoom out in the camera application. On top of the volume rocker-slider key is a small SIM-slot which can be pulled out to insert the SIM.

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On the top there is the 3.5mm audio jack, micro USB port, and the mini-HDMI port. The micro USB port charges the device, transfers data and is used for the USB on-the-go feature. At the bottom there is some info of the device and a small hole which probably is for the microphone. At the back, an 8MP fixed focus camera, with dual-LED flash, a small outlet for the loudspeaker, and two very tiny holes below the camera which are actually for the recording of audio when making a video from the camera.
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The slider mechanism, including the hinge seems well-built. It reminds you of the N97 which till date has a very good and smooth slider mechanism, but it takes a little more effort in the E7 to get it open. The slide-out QWERTY keyboard is large and the 4-rows of keys are very easy to use. The keys have a plush feel and look to them and seem pretty comfortable for writing texts or emails.
The device is sealed tight like the N8, but there were no screws which could be opened to take out the battery. So the battery is not user replaceable nor can you open the device with ease. Another drawback which I think is the absence of a micro SD card slot, thus no expandable memory. Oh and did I mention that there is no FM-transmitter?

Camera

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I was expecting a lot from the camera, however to my disappointment, the camera is not very good. The lack of auto focus makes the captured images blurry most of the times. The camera doesn’t focus very well and you are left with an image having a high resolution but less sharpness or details. The dual LED is decent and does light up areas close by the camera at about 5-6 feet. The camera application is very basic what Nokia usually packs in.

The video recording is a charm though. The camera captures amazing videos at 720p with stereo audio. The videos come out to be crisp, vibrant and very clear. The microphone at the back surely helps to record audio very nicely.
Symbian^3

I have been using Symbian for about 6 years now and I am very much used to the UI and applications available for the platform. Now Symbian^3 is here which is very fresh, smooth, responsive and robust. I used the device for about 2 weeks as my day-to-day phone and it died on me once, but rebooted quickly. Having a 680MHz processor, the device still manages to run the platform without any lags.

Nokia devices, particularly Symbian devices, have issues with RAM management. Nokia has surely improved on these issues, I won’t say perfected it, but I will say improved. I also managed to perform a test, by running a number of apps on the handset. I started off with normal apps like messaging, notes, camera, etc. Later I opened some internet based apps like the browser, ovi maps, ovi store and then finally some games. I managed to run 18 apps at the same time after which I was impressed by the RAM management.

The new platform now has multiple homescreens, new widgets, apps, icons, etc. It gives a new and fresh feel to the overall experience of the device. The menu is the usual 3×4 matrix view which is pretty standard on all Symbian devices.

The Ovi Maps and Ovi Store provide a good experience, however both of the apps need a bit of improvement which will be surely seem in Symbian Anna. The Ovi Store provides a nice variety of apps and recommends free and useful apps.

I would specially like to mention the Music Player App. The music app has been drastically improved. With the S60 V5, the music player app was laggy, slow, un-responsive and there was a very annoying issue where if you tapped on the back button while playing a song, the app would just minimise itself instead of going back to the playlist. Well this issue has been finally solved. Also the music player has an album art scroll menu which seems quicker than the iPod/iPhone. Song search has also been improved and the app scans for music much faster thanks to the RAM management. Audio output has also improved and sound quality through headphones or earphones is nice a crisp.

USB on-the-go and HDMI

One of the best features of the device is the USB on-the-go feature. I haven’t seen this feature in any handset other than Nokia Symbian devices. Using the adapter provided, you can attach USB pen drives, flash drives, external hard disks, and even USB peripheral devices like a mouse or keyboard. I tried attaching a multiple card reader, which didn’t work. However is did recognize a 1TB hard drive with ease.

The HDMI feature is a great addition as well. You can attach the handset via HDMI to a LCD/LED television or monitor and watch movies, videos and pictures in high-definition. The HDMI supports 5.1 channel audio, so a single HDMI cable will take your video and audio and put it onto your LCD/LED display in true high-definition.

Conclusion

The device meets the standards of the smart phones we have today and has the capability to deliver a satisfying smart phone experience. However, there are a few let downs like the camera without auto-focus, no extendable memory, no user changeable battery, no FM-transmitter, etc.

In my opinion, the E7 has good looks, good features and a decent platform which is surely going to be improved with the PR2.0 update. The device could have been better if they had kept the features of the N8 intact.

As always, feel free to ask any queries about the Nokia E7.

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