One of the bad things about the user interface is that it fails to employ the full capabilities of the high-color display, which is a pity. Otherwise, the interface itself is almost a copy of that of Siemens SXG75 but with improved menu icons and themes.
One thing that made bad impression to us was that every time you turn on the phone it asked specifically weather you want the telephone functionality turned on or not. It's really bugging because, after all, you don't happen to fly on an airplane every day.
Besides, pressing the red key on the keypad during standby invokes a short menu which allows you to either turn off the phone, to disconnect a GPRS data call if you have one, or to turn on the Airplane mode. So this startup question is rather pointless or at least its presence should be user configurable.
In standby mode of the main display the two soft keys of the keypad correspond to the Inbox and the My Menu which is a set of shortcuts which are user defined. All our efforts to change the functions assigned to these two soft keys were in vain. The four ways of the main navigation key, though, have their own functions which can be customized to the user's preferences. A single press of the central key takes you to the Main menu.
The main menu itself features a 3 x 4 icons grid. When selecting an icon from the grid, it gets zoomed in and animated at the same time. The icons are crafted in a nice way and are far better than the ones used in RAZR V3x.
The submenus are shown in list view. The font used though seemed rather large for the display and the longer filenames in the submenus have to be automatically scrolled. The response of some of the items of the main menu was pretty slow - especially the response of the file manager called 'My Stuff' here, but again, we think it has something to do with the phone being a beta version, so hopefully that should be fixed in the final version.
There are several preinstalled visual themes which are quite large, by the way. All of them were between 2 and 3 MB in size, but, frankly, changing the theme didn't change much really. The font and the menu icons remained untouched as we went through all of them one by one. The only things that changed were the wallpapers of the main and the secondary display, the menu background and color, the default sounds, and the startup and shutdown screens.
We suppose that the main reason for the theme files being so large is the long startup and shutdown screens which in the case of the Star Wars theme featured a number of actual photos and sounds from the new trilogy. On our screenshots you can only see the Star Wars theme we used the whole time.
Here are some of the preinstalled Star Wars wallpapers.
During the opening and the closing process the phone gives off nice polyphonic sounds which are again theme related, but are also user configurable.
There are several profiles which are user configurable. I must add that the mobile has 6 types of vibration varying in intensity and frequency.
The phone features 64 MB internal memory, but strangely enough it reported of having a total of 72MB. Never mind, the more, the better, we would say. We didn't have a microSD card available at the time we did the review so we couldn't test the phone's functionality and speed with one. We suppose there won't be any problems in that department, however.
It seems that as far as the phonebook is concerned there isn't much that the manufacturers can improve so we are already used to the phonebooks of the current mobiles like a bunch of spoiled children and there's little that can impress us. The phonebook of EF81 has a capacity of 500 contacts.
There are a lot of fields that can go under a specific contact and they include the usual first and last name, 2 regular phone numbers, 2 mobile phone numbers, 2 emails, 2 URLs, a fax, an address, notes, a company job title, a company address, an audio ringtone, a video ringtone, a picture, a group, birthday, a display name /nick/. The last one is of interest to us because you can assign your contact a nickname that appears instead of his full name in the phonebook list. That is really good because after all, we rarely put down our contacts' full first and last names, especially when they are close friends of ours. With this feature you can type down their full names in the phonebook, but use their regular nicknames in the phonebook list.
Another interesting thing is that you can assign a video ringtone to a contact, which practically means, that instead of a picture as a caller ID, a short video plays when you receive a call from a given contact.
You can order the contacts list by first or last name. The search is performed either by filters /distribution lists, groups, video call capability, SIM contacts or any other/ or via letter-by-letter typing of a contact's name. Now, an interesting thing is the difference between distribution lists and groups. Distribution lists are shortcut lists for communication with more than one person /up to 50 per list/. A contact may belong to several distribution lists, while a group is a category of contacts sharing similar call settings such as a common ringtone and a contact can belong only to one group at a time. It is kind of funny, because a distribution list can also have its own common ringtone, which is totally illogical.
Voice dialing works only for numbers stored in phone's memory. You can record around 100 voice tags - you can have separate voice tags for the several numbers of a given contact. This feature works well.
Another good thing about the EF81 phonebook is that when you enter a contact's birthday, the phone transfers it to the organizer and reminds you of that birthday annually.
Call records are a separate menu but can also be accessed from the main screen by pressing the green key on the keypad. The menu features 5 separate tabs: All calls, Dialed Calls, Missed Calls, Received Calls, and Duration/Charges. Each of the three call lists can contain up to 100 items. The last tab shows the total duration of calls made and received and their respective number, i.e. 15 calls.