Nokia E7 Review
Nokia E7 waving at us, claiming to be an honorable heir of Nokia's enterprise series phones with physical keyboards.
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. Is that really the case? Read on to find out...
The Nokia E7 is essentially a longer and wider version of the Nokia N8, but manages to pack on a landscape keyboard to its 0.54” (13.6mm) 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. Furthermore, you can find the Nokia E7 in a variety of colors, from silver to flashy orange.
You can compare the Nokia E7 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
However, there is still that noticeable weight of 6.21 oz (176 g) that it's carrying around, and the anodized aluminum is more slippery than plastic, so it takes some getting used to at the beginning how to handle the elliptic handset. The weight is actually quite decent for a handset with a large screen, physical keyboard, and a metal shell. Even more impressive is the fact that the handset is just slightly thicker than the Nokia N8, not even counting the elevated area around the latter’s huge image sensor. Thus the Nokia E7 is one magnificently designed smartphone that is easily recognizable, and showing the kind of talent that Nokia has in the design department.
What's equally impressive about the E7 versus other Nokia smartphones is that it sizes up with an ample 4” AMOLED ClearBlack Display with 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, as well as almost infinite contrast. And even though it might not contend in the same space as other handsets with higher resolution displays, it doesn't particularly detract from its still distinguishable visuals and excellent viewing angles. And, hey, this is the largest screen ever on a contemporary Nokia phone.
Underneath the display, there is a single menu button that also acts as the notification system that will light up or pulsate when receiving calls or text messages. Its location in the middle is much better than the home button on the Nokia N8, which you almost drop the phone to reach. Plus, it is equally accessible in the middle for both left-handed and right-handed users.
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. You can slot-load your SIM card into the tray that pulls out of the SIM slot, and then plug it back in, covering the slot entirely – something that was absent on both the prototype, and the Nokia N8.
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. Next to it, there is a plastic flap that covers both the HDMI port, and at the left end of the top side is the exposed microUSB port, which offers USB-on-the-go capabilities with the supplied connector.
In the rear, we're greeted to the handset's 8-megapixel camera and its dual LED flash, probably the same one we have on the Nokia C7. At first, some might be content with the large resolution, but knowing that it's nothing more than a fixed focus camera that can't focus well on objects closer than 20 inches, others might be deterred from it. Then again, the E7 is classified 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 down and into the handset to get the mechanism to activate and expose the Nokia E7's keyboard, which can be tricky with the slippery anodized aluminum case, but that will probably wear in with use.
It all stems from the fact that the two hinges are designed to lift and tilt the screen half in a somewhat diagonal manner, as opposed to first rolling the screen part up, and then tilting it, or pushing the screen down and then sliding it downwards to cover the keyboard, which is commonplace with screen-tilting phones. Once adjusted, we found the mechanism to be extremely satisfying, as it clicks into place solidly, and tilts the display at an angle. Once completely open, the phone hides the ribbon cable that is used to connect the display with the motherboard behind the larger hinge, so no worries it can be damaged somehow.
As for the keyboard itself, we find it satisfyingly comfortable to use, while remaining stylishly chic with its chiclet 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. Moreover, we have arrow keys, which are the grand blessing of having a physical keyboard, since we find it a pain to move the cursor on a touchscreen, no matter what trickery the mobile OS uses for that.
In short, we were more than satisfied with the unibody aluminum beauty that Nokia has crafted with the E7, as it exemplifies all of the elements you'd consider finding in a high-end smartphone. From its solid construction, to sturdy choice of materials, the Nokia E7 will instantly capture the hearts and minds of Nokia fans all around.