Nokia E71 review: Messenger of steel

GSMArena team, 24 July 2008.
Pages: 12345678

Display shrinks, still a winner

Nokia E71 features a 2.36" 16M-color QVGA display. This is smaller than the Nokia E61 screen but we can hardly frown at it. The size of the landscape display has obviously been sacrificed to make the phone more compact and pocket-friendly.

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The display has great picture quality and legibility under direct sunlight

The screen performance is great, with excellent contrast and vivid image. Sunlight legibility is commendable.

Keyboard up to scratch

The E71 QWERTY keypad is the other element that's been reduced in size compared to the E61. One might argue that size determines usability and would be perfectly right. However we have to admit Nokia did manage to strike the right balance here and the E71 keyboard is good enough.

You shouldn't expect regular desktop typing speed and you'll certainly have to look at the keypad but you can achieve pretty decent results with the E71. If you are into typing lots of messages you are sure to get used to it quickly and start speeding your way through texts.

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The keyboard is really nice

The controls above the keypad are also quite handy, obviously building upon the E51 layout. Those include the two selection keys, the call and keys, the menu key and three so-called one-touch keys. One-touch keys can be set as shortcuts to any application you like, never mind the icons on them might suggest otherwise. Furthermore, you can assign two applications per key, making use of the press and press-and-hold function on all of them.

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The controls above the keypad are a joy to use

The D-pad is equally pleasing. Its ample size and tactility do add to the excellent mark on ergonomics for E71. Still, a try-before-buy is advisable for people with larger fingers, as the QWERTY keypad knobs might not feel as comfortable to them.

The backlighting is quite adequate to make the phone no problem to handle in the dark.

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Nokia E71 in the dark

Telephony

With Nokia E71 you are extremely unlikely to experience any reception issues. Sound during calls is very clear and free of any interferences. The vibration is also strong enough to make sure you never miss an incoming call or message.

Nokia E71 features the really nice smart dialing feature, which helps you quickly find a contact straight from the standby screen. All you need to do is type a few letters and all contacts with names (first or last) containing them get displayed.

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The smart dial is very convenient

Nokia E71 also sports an advanced call manager for filtering your incoming calls. You can opt for various settings - accepting only calls from your contacts, from all non-private numbers or from anyone. In addition you can set up different ringing profiles that can be scheduled to activate at a certain time (hour and day). Finally, you can also set the behavior of the phone when rejecting a call - busy tone, reject with SMS or answering machine on are some of the options.

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The advanced call manager application

The Nokia E71 also has support for VoIP calls - you just enter your account details and you are all set.

We conducted our traditional speakerphone test with Nokia E71. Here is how it ranked among a few of the other handsets we have tested. You can find information on the actual testing process, along with the full list of tested devices here.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
Nokia N8270.261.265.9Below Average
Nokia E5167.065.771.2Average
Nokia E7168.066.576.2Good
Sony Ericsson W96072.373.576.7Very Good
Samsung i62075.773.676.7Excellent

Symbian S60 UI, Feature Pack 1 (with a pinch of FP 2)

Nokia E71 runs on Symbian 9.2 OS with the Series60 3rd Edition user interface. It has the Feature Pack 1 preinstalled but it also brings in a number of enhancements and upgrades inherent to Feature Pack 2.

Nokia E71 is powered by a single 369 MHz CPU and has 128MB of RAM. In Symbian terms this means that navigating the menus is fast with instant response to key presses and no delays whatsoever. The Memory Full warnings are also highly unlikely and you should make quite an effort to deplete the available memory.

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The Symbian S60 UI in landscape mode

The phone's main menu has two view modes: a 4 x 3 grid of icons and a list. However with the E71 you cannot even opt for having animated icons as with most other Nokia phones. This is probably just another way of reiterating the business targeting of the phone. At least the font size is configurable depending on your preferences.

The circle next to the icon of a running application is a well known Symbian indication reminding users to quit unwanted applications that are still running in the background.

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The two main menu view modes

The active stand-by mode goes without saying on Nokia E71. This is a nice and convenient way to bring shortcuts to all favorite applications to your home screen. You can even assign shortcuts to websites of your choice for quicker access. Furthermore, each of the one-touch keys can be customized to access any feature (actually two per key) of choice.

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A lot of different applications and notifications can be set to appear on the stand-by screen

The two soft keys functions can also vary. If active stand-by mode isn't activated you can also assign shortcuts to the directions of the D-pad. Luckily, although the keypad lock pattern is the usual quick successive pressing of the left selection key and the Fn key, the left key no longer lags before acting, like it used to on previous models.

There is also an automatic key lock on the E71. It gets activated upon a user-defined interval with the options ranging from 5 seconds to an hour. This option can also be disabled if the user sees fit.

An innovative feature of the Nokia E71 allows you to toggle between two different phone setups. Each of them can be customized with its own theme and homescreen applications for maximizing usability. This way you can have a leisure and business profile and alternate them at the expense of a single click.

The built-in memory is 120MB, which is a decent figure by all means. The included 2GB microSD memory card comes in very handy for extending it but even higher capacity cards are supported. As we managed to confirm, Nokia E71 has no problem handling an 8GB microSD card, which is the largest currently available on the market. Accessing applications or any other files on the memory card is quick and you probably won't notice any difference compared to accessing ones in the phone memory.

As with any Symbian phone, there is a built-in voice recognition system. It is launched by the dedicated key on the side of the E71 and is doing a good job, being fully speaker-independent and recognizing a very high percentage of the user commands.

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The built-in voice recognition system works really well

And finally, there's a new feature, you might know as Remote Wipe. It's not a new feature per se, but up until now it was usually reserved for corporate scenarios. Now it's available to everyone. In case your Nokia E71 gets stolen or lost, you should simply send a coded SMS message. It gets locked down and after three unsuccessful attempts of unlocking it, it wipes itself clean of all personal or sensitive info. You might not get your Nokia E71 back, but at least nobody will get your personal data either.

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