Nokia E71 review: Messenger of steel

GSMArena team, 24 July 2008.
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Image gallery

The gallery of Nokia E71 doesn't have the rotating 3D view we are used to seeing in the Nseries but it is completely on par in terms of functionality.

No changes are to be seen here in terms of features - you can easily browse images and zoomed in up to 8x. Overall, picture browsing and zooming is fast and even comparably large files are sure not to bother you too much. We have seen a couple of Nokia handsets do even better but the E71 is doing more than fine, and it's not really meant to be a multimedia gadget.

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The image gallery allows fullscreen viewing and zooming in up to 800%

The gallery file-management features (which even include sending multiple files at a time) are basically doubled by the file manager.

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The Symbian file manager can do almost anything you can think of with your files

3 megapixel snapper

The camera is one element where Nokia E71 fails big time. It may sound decent on paper - 3 megapixel, LED flash and self-portrait mirror - but the reality is completely different. In fact the LED flash is not much of a treat, as its effective reach is quite limited and that's by far not the biggest issue with the camera.

The lack of lens protection is the first problem to come to mind. This means that the glass above the camera lens will get scratched in no time unless you use the leather case (or any other case) at all times. No dedicated camera key is also a downer: shooting isn't so comfortable and auto focus makes somewhat less sense.

Nokia went for a two key combination for shooting with the E71. You need to press the 'T' key for the camera to focus and then the confirmation center of the D-pad to take the actual photo. While this is still better than nothing, it's not nearly as comfortable as a standalone shutter key. It's just another clue that the camera wasn't the main concern of the Nokia R&D team.

The camera user interface is the same as in the Nokia flagship N95 8GB and that is basically the best thing about the E71 snapper. The camera offers extensive settings: from manual white balance and ISO sensitivity to exposure compensation, sharpness and contrast settings, as well as various effects, which are labeled color tones.

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The interface is the best part of the camera

Gridline can also be applied to the viewfinder to assist you in framing you photos, using the photographic rule-of-thirds. Using it to align your subjects and place points of interest on or near the lines and their intersecting points makes your photos more professional and aesthetic. The sequence mode and self-timer are no news. The flash can be set to four positions: automatic, always on, red-eye reduction and always off.

Small font tooltips are displayed to help you understand what the phone is doing at each specific moment (processing image, for example).

The picture quality however is below average. Pictures lack detail and noise levels are high. The colors are also far from being precise and as a whole there is hardly anything good we can say about image quality.

Well, you've been warned. You can now check out the sample photos made with the E71 camera.

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Nokia E71 sample photos

You can also have a look at a few comparison photos taken with the E71 and the Nokia 6210 Navigator (Now now, do we have a review in the works or don't we?). Not much to say here, we've got a clear winner. The new Nokia Navigator seems quite a capable performer when it comes to imaging.

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Nokia E71 • Nokia 6210 Navigator

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Nokia E71 • Nokia 6210 Navigator

Video recording is another great disappointment with the E71 camera. The business-minded handset only manages QVGA videos at 15 fps, which spells failure by our books. As a whole, the camera is the one feature of E71 yelling business-comes-first. Probably Nokia thought a better camera is not worth the effort in a business gadget. We can't help wondering why they didn't stick with the 2 megapixel shooter of the E61i in the first place.

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