Nokia E7 Preview

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Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T.

Introduction:


Once again finding itself in a familiar position, which seems to be the norm for it for quite some time now, Nokia is feverishly looking to rebound in the mobile market with a few upcoming models that'll hopefully spur some business its way. More recently, it's still rather difficult to say concretely whether or not the versatile Nokia N8 has the necessary wow factor to grab some attention in this already cut throat market. However, they're attempting to focus their attention now in the business enterprise segment with their modern concoction for their once beloved Communicator Series with the Nokia E7. Retaining most of the wonderful features and design cues from the Nokia N8, the E7 just might have the perfect mix of ingredients, with its peculiar looking keyboard, to consider itself as being the next big smartphone from Nokia's camp.

Design:

Granted that we're checking out a mere prototype of the Nokia E7, we're taken by surprise at its stunning craftsmanship that oozes from head to toe with the utmost attention to detail. Specifically, it's essentially a longer and wider version of the Nokia N8, but manages to pack on a landscape keyboard to its 0.54” sleek anodized aluminum casing. Just grasping it in the hand, there is this enveloping feeling that occurs because it's meticulously well built all around; not to mention resilient in battling normal wear and tear. However, there is still that noticeable weight (6.21 oz) that it's carrying around – and we'd argue that a drop from a lengthy height can still adversely damage it's pristine exterior. Nevertheless, the Nokia E7 is one magnificently designed smartphone that shows the kind talent that Nokia has in the design department.



You can compare the Nokia E7 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

What's equally impressive about the E7 versus other Nokia smartphones is that it sizes up with an ample 4” AMOLED Clear Black Display with nHD (360 x 640) resolution and support for 16.7 million colors. In addition to the roomy real estate, which our fingers find more than adequate at this point, we adore how the AMOLED panel is capable of displaying some distinctive and deep colors – albeit a slight overall blue hue. And even though it might not contend in the same space as other handset with higher resolution displays, it doesn't particularly detract from its still distinguishable visuals. However, with this prototype, we experienced some responsiveness and accuracy issues in registering our touch – which can be contributed to the early software build with the handset. Finally, fingerprints and smudges are a problem for the E7 because they become caked into the surface and require some abrasive buffing with a cloth to remove. We hope that most of these issues will be taken care of in the final unit.

Underneath the display, there is a single rectangular sized home button that also acts as the notification system that will light up or pulsate when receiving calls or text messages.


On the left edge, we find nothing but an unlock switch, while the volume switch, shutter key, and SIM card slot are all found on the right side of the phone. For the most part, we didn't have any problems feeling out either the volume and unlock switches, but we definitely would've liked to see some sort of cover for the SIM slot.

Taking a quick peek at the handset's flat top side, we find its 3.5mm headset jack and dedicated power button perched on their usual spots. Although it's flush to the surface, the power button's size enables us to press it down without much falter. And next to it, there is a plastic flab that covers both the microUSB and mini-HDMI ports.


In the rear, we're greeted to the handset's 8-megapixel camera and its dual-LED flash. At first, some might be content with the large capacity, but knowing that it's nothing more than a fixed focus camera, others might be deterred from it. Then again, the E7 is classifies as a business oriented device as opposed to the camera centric Nokia N8. And towards the bottom portion of the rear, we find a single notch for the phone's speaker.


Not to be forgotten, there is also a front-facing camera found next to the handset's earpiece – along with the light and proximity sensors close by.


Without much hesitation, our natural instinct instructed us to open the handset like any other device we've used with a landscape style keyboard. But when we began using that normal sliding routine with our thumbs, we're greeted to nothing more than a baffling resistance. In fact, you'll need to push in and down into the handset to get the mechanism to activate and expose its keyboard. Of course, this might be due to the prototype nature of the unit. Once adjusted, we found the mechanism to be extremely satisfying as it clicks into place solidly and tilts the display at an angle.


As for the keyboard itself, we find it satisfyingly comfortable to use while remaining stylishly chic with its chicklet style buttons. Medium in size, we didn't have too much problems in getting a feel for the somewhat flushed buttons, but they still offered a reasonable amount of feedback without much force required in pressing down on them. Overall, we quickly got a handle for its layout and found ourselves quickly typing up messages at a steady rate without that many mistakes along the way.


For a prototype, we're amazed at this stunning beauty that Nokia has crafted with the E7 as it epitomizes all of the elements you'd consider finding in a high class smartphone. From its solid construction to sturdy choice of materials, the Nokia E7 will instantly capture the hearts and minds of consumers all around. Furthermore, it just goes to show the kind of ingenuity and talent that can arise at a heartbeat for a company that finds itself at the crossroads.

Nokia E7 360-degree View:





Interface and Functionality:

Before we get into the nitty gritty portion about the Nokia E7's platform experience, we just want you to be aware that it's nowhere close to being the final build since we've encountered numerous anomalies that frustrated us. With that, the Nokia E7 shares the same 680MHz ARM 11 processor and 256MB of RAM that's found with the N8, but it increases its ROM to 1024MB. For most basic tasks, we found the Nokia E7 to move at a swift rate with very few instances of lag or slowdown – which is a marked improvement over S60 5th Edition.

Employing the same exact interface found running on the Nokia N8, there isn't anything new to be found (so far) with the experience from the E7. Running Symbian^3, there is a high learning curve with the handset if you're using the platform for the very first time. However, users of previous versions of Symbian will quickly adapt to its quirks and menu layout structure. With the homescreen, there is a certain degree of personalization found with it, but for some odd reason, our prototype unit limited us to only using a single homescreen – but it's capable of adding up to three total. Unlike Android, where you can freely move differently sized widgets, the ones found with Symbian^3 are relatively rectangular in shape and static. Meaning, they're simply blocks that are primarily stacked one on top of each other. Still, it's better than not having any say in its layout.


For a more detailed and comprehensive look at what the platform experience is all about with Symbian^3, you can read about it in our in-depth Nokia N8 Review. Naturally, the E7's outcome experience should be identical, but with our prototype, we saw a few glitches, random forced closing of apps, and even a few inexplicable restarts. Again, it's a prototype and we can't pass judgment since it's not a final build of the software.

As we've already mentioned, the best messaging experience is found with the handset's fantastic physical keyboard, but Symbian^3 boasts a couple of on-screen options for your pleasure. In portrait, we find the usual looking numeric keypad that offers plenty of room to move around with our fingers, but it can be a painstaking process unless predictive text is enabled. Conversely, the full QWERTY keyboard found in landscape is a decent offering, but since buttons are slightly smaller, we found ourselves making some mistakes along the way. Nonetheless, both options are still decent in their own regard, but without hesitation, we'd prefer sticking it out with the physical one.


Taking the competition into consideration, the biggest obstacle that Nokia has to overcome is not surprisingly itself. Baffled? Well, quickly looking at the frantic pace that we see iOS and Android moving in pushing out updates, Nokia seems to be at a standstill in bringing to market their updated OS. Using the Nokia E7 briefly, there isn't a substantial case in siding with the platform when it clearly doesn't have the polish and allure found with the competition. Even yet, we find RIM somewhat in the same boat with BlackBerry OS 6, but it seems that Nokia is still trying to figure out its comfort level with their platform.

Camera and Multimedia:

Alright, if you're looking for a great photo taking experience with a Nokia phone, it's clear your best bet will be the N8 with its 12-megapixel auto-focus camera with Carl Zeiss lens. Granted that we still have an 8-megapixel camera in tow with the Nokia E7, we're saddened to see that it's nothing more than a fixed focused one. However, it does make some sense since the E7 is positioned to be a business class handset first – but still, it's slightly diminished because of it. We're not going to go into detail about its interface, since it follows accordingly to what we see with the N8. We'll restrain from making comments on the quality of the pictures we took, because the E7 is obviously still a work in progress. However, we're a bit disheartened by what we experienced with our prototype.




Not necessarily the first thing that stands out for most business oriented users, but the Nokia E7 has the ability to shoot video in 720p. Again, we'll wait for a final unit in order to make any sort of comment about its qualities.

Running the music player, it combines the customary elements we'd expect out of any other player out there, but sprinkles a dash of visual appeal in the form of its 3D carousel for browsing albums. Although it follows in fashion to the iPhone's coverflow mode, we're amazed to see its buttery smooth responsiveness in browsing albums, but nonetheless, its energetic radiance is quite appealing to the eye.


Playing high definition videos is no problem for the Nokia E7 as we managed to load a video encoded in MPEG-4 1280 x 720 resolution. Naturally, its AMOLED display and relatively larger size makes for the perfect combination in watching videos in their full fidelity, but its smooth and lag-free playback complements its already premier status in this department.



Internet and Connectivity:

Seeing that the Nokia E7 is much like any other GSM phone out there in the market, which means you can place voice calls just about anywhere in the world, its pentaband UMTS radio is a rarity in itself since we even managed to get 3G connection through T-Mobile USA's AWS band. Even though it wouldn't be very difficult to find 3G connectivity with this device, it still packs 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi to get you plugged in when you're in a spotty location. Furthermore, the handset features aGPS which can be used with Ovi Maps and Bluetooth 3.0 to get that useful wireless headset connected.

Being connected to T-Mobile's 3G network, our web site managed to load in a timely manner. Additionally, we found some Flash content loading as well since it has support for Flash Lite. However, we did experience some slowdown when navigating sites that have heavy Flash content, but aside from that, it's a decent offering on its own. We noticed that it takes a little bit of time for the phone to render content if you scroll too quickly – but it's nothing that adversely affects the experience. In the end, the web browsing experience with Symbian^3 is vastly improved versus the challenging performance of previous iterations.





Expectations:

Alright, so we've been playing with this Nokia E7 prototype for a few days already, and even though we can't concretely give it a final grade, it's shaping up to be an admirable offering from Nokia's camp. First, we're thrilled by it's fantastic design, rock solid construction, and its choice of employing the most premium of materials. In reality, it shines on many levels, but its landscape style keyboard only supplements its modern look and feel. In actuality, it just goes to show the cunning talent and abilities that Nokia's team is capable of dishing out – even though it looks almost identically to the Nokia N8.

However, we were mostly put off by the platform experience found with the prototype. Yeah, we know that it's not the final consumer product, but looking past the multiple crashes and unexpected force closes, it just feels too uninspiring when you blatantly compare it to other modern rivals. Without doubt, Nokia is going to need to do some polishing in some key areas to make this one an uplifting competitor in the business class segment that RIM currently holds. In the mean time, we'll wait it out and see what Nokia ultimately has in store for the E7.

Nokia E7 Video Preview:

Video Thumbnail


The review unit was provided by Negri Electronics.com



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