The retail package of Nokia E71 is quite worth the cheer. The phone comes with Nokia's fastest and smallest charger, which is really much more comfortable to carry around. Potentially, you wouldn't need to have it on you that often, given the battery capacity. A 2GB microSD card also comes with the E71 and so does a leather carrying case.
A leather lanyard is there too and so is a CD with the needed PC sync software. The supplied handsfree however is one piece, which means you cannot use the hands-free remote with another headset. Finally there is a whole load of paperwork including manuals, quick start guides and a few leaflets.
Nokia E71 measures 114 x 57 x 10 mm and 66 cc of volume, which make it sweetly pocketable. You wouldn't normally guess it judging by its height or width on paper but the phone is never a burden, for handling and pocketing. Even the good 127 g of weight won't bother you much. Well, the QWERTY keyboard takes its toll, so it's not the most compact of phones but Nokia deserve a pat on the back for getting as close as possible.
In fact at 10mm thickness, the Nokia E71 is not only the slimmest full QWERTY device on the market, but it's also the slimmest smartphone to-date and that should count for something.
Bar-shaped QWERTY devices are pigeonholed as typical communication devices. As such, Nokia E71 can hardly impress with design: the crowded keypad and smallish - considering the available area - screen are not everybody's cup of tea. However, the E71 pulls of quite some style. It's much slicker than most messengers with its stylish steel casing and classy looks.
The earpiece of Nokia E71 is placed dead center at the top of the front panel. It's flanked by an ambient light sensor to the left and the video-call camera lens to the right. Below is the 2.36" display, followed by the main bank of control and navigation keys and the QWERTY keyboard. The screen, keyboard and controls will get their due coverage in a short while.
The last thing on the front is the mouthpiece in the left bottom corner.
On the left side of the handset are the infrared port (a technology that's seemingly obsolete), the microSD card slot and the microUSB port. Both apertures are covered with plastic lids to hold off dirt and dust, and keep the contour of the handset intact.
The right side of Nokia E71 hosts the 2.5 mm standard audio jack and the two volume controls. Between them is the voice command key, which we doubt will be put to frequent use. Most other Nokia phones (outside the E-series, that is) use the right selection key for that purpose and it usually does a perfectly good job.
The loudspeaker of Nokia E71 is located at the top. The only other thing here is the red power key, which doubles as a shortcut to ringing profiles. We're not particularly fond of the choice of color for this key. The red knob is so out of line with the surrounding surface, it's ridiculous. But just wait and see that same knob in the white steel version of Nokia E71: it's utterly offensive. No really, what were they thinking?!
The bottom of Nokia's newest messenger features the lanyard eyelet and the charger plug.
The back panel of Nokia E71 is a real treat. The dot-patterned stainless steel battery cover looks tremendous. Well, that's until those inevitable fingerprint smudges kick in to make the otherwise sweet metal surface a mess. Once it gets smudged, it's almost impossible to clean.
Other than that, the metal lining on the front panel is fingerprint proof.
Rearside Nokia E71 features the 3 megapixel camera lens, with LED flash and a self-portrait mirror. The whole combo is covered under a transparent layer, which in turn has no protection whatsoever from scratches, except that it is a tiny bit recessed.
Removing the battery cover is quite sweet, all you need to do is gently squeeze the two release knobs on either side at the bottom and it pops up like a charm. Fitting it back in however is well harder: you'll need to push a few times before it locks properly. Furthermore, even when it's perfectly in place, a cleft is visible between the cover and the side panel of the phone, which looks like a rushed job really.
Like it or not, it's what's under the cover that's truly worth cheers: the 1500 mAh BP-4L Li-Po whale of a battery. With a power plant like this one, seems like there's no stopping Nokia E71. It is quoted at 410 hours of stand-by time and 10 and a half hours of talk time and that's more than impressive.
In reality you can make it through three days of some really heavy usage. We used it for about two and a half hours of GPS navigation, two hours of web browsing over Wi-Fi, an hour of calls and about two hours of other phone features before it eventually went dead, about 80 hours after a full charge. Not bad, aye? If you tend to use it less, your Nokia E71 may as well last nearly a week.
We also put the Nokia E71 through our usual GPS battery test to see how far you can get with it in GPS mode. We left the device at a standstill position with GPS satellites locked and the display constantly on. The E71 kept going for 14 hours straight - that's right, fourteen hours of constant work. Now that's the most impressive reading we've got so far. Just for the sake of comparison the Nokia 6210 Navigator lasted only 4 hours in the same test.
The build quality of Nokia E71 is excellent and the stainless steel casing is a showoff. Nokia E71 feels nice in hand and operating it with one or two hands is equally easy. This goes true for typing too.