Model: E7 “Communicator”
Operating system: Symbian ^ 3 (upgradable to Symbian Anna)
The Nokia E7 is one more device within the portfolio of the Finnish manufacturer, not being only just another Symbian Smartphone ^ 3, so represents the continuation of a saga that began in 1996 with the first “Communicator”, the Nokia 9000. The E7 continues the tradition, with changes in nomenclature and new conceptual design, but without abandoning and improving communicative intentions that have characterized over 15 years Nokia Communicators Series.
The Nokia E7 is the best adaptation of this class of devices to market trends and consumer.
1. Evaluation of construction, quality and accessories included
In advance, the Nokia E7 retrieves the virtues of a good QWERTY keyboard, which excelled in the 9500 model, being lost with the old Nokia E90.
The Nokia E7 is the thinnest “Communicator” (with only 13.6 mm thick) and better built in recent years, which highlights a Gorilla Glass glass screen, metal body (except in the upper and lower) and an exceptionally comfortable keyboard layout.
With E7 the user cannot access the battery compartment and not find a micro SD card slot, we will have only 16GB of internal memory. Like the Nokia N8, the “Communicator” has external access to the SIM compartment, top left profile, with the peculiar mechanism to adjust the volume.
The structure of the E7 saves an enormous similarities with the N8, but this time AMOLED touch screen is 4-inch, more suggestive when browsing web pages, and with the addition of Gorilla Glass Glass it’s difficult to scratch or damage: the screen has a great touch response. If we have a look to the back of the device, we will appreciate that the 8MP lens don’t protrude from the surface of the housing.
The front only has a central button with flashing light, to access the application menu (and multitasking menu), and a secondary camera for video calls, just visible to the eye.
The top section contains all the connections: micro USB, HDMI (includes plug adapter for TV standard) and 3.5 of headphone jack. Including the off button on the E7.
In the right profile there is a removable compartment of the SIM, the button for the camera function (1 single position) and a volume control mechanism. On the left profile we get the convenient and comfortable mechanism for locking / unlocking the screen.
The great attraction of Nokia E7 is its sliding keyboard in landscape mode: comfortable, spacious, excellent touch, and brilliant design. This time, the new Communicator features a keyboard that transmits a great user experience and happens to be incredibly handy (infinitely better than the old Nokia E90). Nokia has done a good work: useful area of 10cm wide and 2.5 cm in height , and keys with a size of 0.5 × 0.7 cm, separated from each other by about 0.2 cm. The measures are all in the physical QWERTY keyboard, the difference between getting higher or lower productivity / comfort. So far is the best horizontal QWERTY keyboard I have ever tried.
One of the most important accessories for a multimedia smartphone is the headset, and the Nokia E7 includes a fabulous in-ear style headphones which are ideal for enjoying deeper sounds and isolate the noise.
The new design for the “Communicator” series has seemed successful, attractive and better suited to current times, though I will particularly miss the book format that characterized these devices from the earlier 9000 to the Nokia E90.
2. Battery capacity and performance
The Nokia E7 has a 1200mAh battery, which lasts quite long, of course depending on the features that we will use.
Configuration: brightness to 75%, 2G/3G dual network, 1 running mail account automatically synchronized every 15 minutes.
Battery charge: 100% at 18:30h and 0% 20/Abril at 19:45pm on 22/Abril (phone off, 2x8h approx.)
Use: 77 minutes on voice calls, 3 hours and 45 minutes of music playback, 58 photos taken, low use of email (send-receive).
With the Nokia E7, the activity that requires less energy consume is the music playback, 3-4% every hour.
Other measurements (using Nokia Battery Monitor v1.3 app):
- DivX video playback via HDMI: 35-36% within 2 hours.
- DivX on screen video playback: 19-22% x 1 hour, and up to 26% x 1 hour if we consider playing a movie in MKV (HD) (home indoor, brightness to 100%).
3. Evaluation of the UI and OS: Symbian ^ 3
Symbian ^ 3 is very similar to S60 5th Edition on a visual level: Nokia users will thank you not to feel lost, which often happens when you change of operating system. But when you get deeper into Symbian ^ 3 you will appreciate the changes taking place, both visible to the naked eye as the unseen. Symbian ^3 has not won favor with analysts demanding, but because of that we cannot consider it as inefficient OS with poor performance.
The first thing to appreciate is that we have available 3 desktops, so we can organize various widgets, shortcuts, inbox, WLAN connectivity, favorite contacts, or warning notices, and little else. It would have been interesting to include a full-screen widget for Facebook and Twitter.
All three desks have space to accommodate a maximum of 18 widgets, but the variety is not so much to fill them from a useful perspective: we can leave empty one of the screens to enjoy a background image. Do you know what? We can assign a wallpaper for each of the 3 home screen.
Pressing a few seconds the applications menu button, the multitask menu appears: we get previews of applications and horizontal navigation between different active windows or apps. As happens with Symbian S60 5th Ed, you can distribute at will the location of the menu icons and create new folders, giving it a more personal to the User Interface (UI).
The Nokia E7 comes with the midnight “theme“, which gives a different feel to the icons, when compared to the default theme carried by both Nokia N8 and Nokia C7.
Symbian has ever been proud of being ease to use, but also give the users flexibility to assign ring tones, tones for messages or emails. The strange thing in Symbian ^ 3 is that we have no visual notification (flashing light) for new emails. It is always a pleasure to set up to 5 sound profiles, ideal when we are at work, we have the headphones on, or we are immerse in noisy places: offline profile disconnect all wireless connections, including the 3G/2G reception.
I recommend the “search” app, which utility may be critical if we have to find, for example, specific information contained in an specific e-mail.
Symbian User ^ 3 offers good fluidity and softness to interact with the system, which is important when we show our photo album or while we are surfing on the web with the browser.
I would like to point out a number of things: it is important to install the updates proposed by Nokia software (menu, applications, tools, updates. SW), which solve some lag and make improvements; if touch at the top right corner of the screen (battery bar), we get a pop through which we quickly enter the connection settings (BT, Wi-Fi, USB ….); set up the search widget streamlines our local search for a particular post, for example, or an entry in Google also. Symbian ^ 3 can organize your applications at will, and so we shall set our own application menu.
One of the peculiarities associated with the sliding keyboard of the Nokia E7 is that we can apply a configuration particularly interesting: assign an action when opening the keyboard: to initiate a new SMS or email, write a note or open a particular application. To do this go to settings, phone.
Sometimes I have been asked how to disable the flashing of the access key to the applications menu. We have to enter to settings, phone, notify light, diffuse light, and select “Off”.
Nokia has recently announced an update for Symbian Smartphones like N8, C7, C6-01 and E7, called Symbian Anna, which will bring a revamped user interface and promises improvements in performance.
4. Applications: OVI Store
- OVI Maps: complete program to enjoy GPS navigation while we are in transit, on foot or by car. The Nokia E7 comes with version 3.06 of OVI Maps, 3D view and incorporating additional services from third parties to supplement the information available to the user at the destination: TripAdvisor, Weather, Michelin Guide, Lonely Planet Guide, bookatable … etc etc . A number of services to be located, make reservations for hotels or restaurants, receive information from the place where we are and what’s nearby …. Moreover, it is possible to download maps of the geographies we need, of the countries, for example, we have decided to travel: we can use completely free maps in offline mode.
- Social Networks: Symbian ^ 3 includes an app for Facebook and Twitter, which runs through OVI account. We won’t experience the same quick access comparing with other operating systems, the response is slower than expected. The app can let comment on entries, send messages, view photo albums, upload pictures hosted on our device, or write our “tweets “. The app “Social” is recommended for Twitter (below points to a free app that serves as an alternative).
- Quickoffice: The version included “only” is entitled to read documents.
- Zip: practical utility, especially when we want to share multiple files via Bluetooth, or simply reduce the size of a file to send.
- Recorder: applications / office. I think this app may be useful for those who frequently take voice notes. The configuration of the highest quality sound exudes an amazing audio.
- Registration: applications / tools. Useful and basic information for users who need to check the minutes of calls or amount of data received, vital to know whether it has reached the limits of their limit rate for voice and Internet.
- Snaptü: more agile, though it may seem simpler to handle both Facebook and Twitter. The application “Social” of Nokia is still too slow to access, for example, to photos posted by us or our contacts. Also worth a look at Snaptü to explore other possibilities: Picassa, Flickr, other Social Networks, RSS news reader, managing email accounts, among others.
- AccuWeather or ForecaWeather: the second is perhaps more attractive according the data offered.
-Google Maps: as an excellent complement to OVI Maps, provides lots of information and better search engine for places in a city. From the web browser enter http://m.google.com
-Reader v1.0b: Nokia Beta Labs has developed this handy newsreader, that still take several seconds to start, although it provides a comfortable reading through the font size, and the contrast between black background and white text. Navigation between the different news turns out to be very fluid. Recommended.
-Google reader: the advantage of Google Reader is that if we later change devices and operating systems, RSS feed is not lost: we get them through the online Google account, and always available both from the screen phone or online (www. google. com / reader).
-Angry Birds: One of the most attractive games available for Symbian, which promises hours and hours of play, and the use of reasoning and ability to overcome different levels of the game. The Nokia E7, with its 4-inch display, is fantastic to enjoy Angry Birds.
-Nokia Battery Monitor v1.3: a good application that works through a widget, to control Smartphone’s power consumption.
-IM for Nokia: app to connect to MSN Messenger, Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger. It works very well.
note: the last two screenshots, the app “Nokia Battery Monitor”
The OVI Application Store has thousands of apps, lots of options for a variety of tastes and needs.
5. Voice and Data
Voice: no problem, the voice is clear.
Data: I have been generally satisfied with the management of email and web browsing, although the app “Social”, to access Twitter and Facebook, is still slow, so it is preferable to use Snaptü.
Email: incorporating a broad physical QWERTY keyboard makes writing very comfortable, simple, practical and productive … both for professional and personal use. I recommend configuring your mail account, if Gmail, to download the entire message, which helps open the inbox and access to content: Symbian ^3 still lacks in smoothness and speed of access to the email app itself comparing to other operating systems.
Synchronization of mail every 15 minutes is a good choice to be close to real-time perception. Professionals can sync mail in real time with “Exchange”, but is an account that I could not test personally.
Web Browsing: Nokia Web browser is not the best in this section in terms of fluency, but we have the option of downloading from OVI Store “Opera Mobile Browser, which will provide greater agility, faster loading and better tactile experience . Nokia E7’s 4-inch screen is a good framework. Adobe Web page takes about 1 minute to load on Nokia browser and just 30 seconds on “Opera”.
Instant Messaging: What is the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating and testing the Nokia E7 keyboard? Staying connected to friends or contacts through Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, and MySpace Chat. “IM for Nokia” works quite well and allows you to connect to various systems with one app.
Tethering: The best way to share the Nokia E7’s 3G Data Plan with a PC is through the USB port. In the case of a PC with Microsoft Windows, you will be asked for install the “Nokia PC Internet Access.”
To share 3G data plan with a Windows computer you will have to change the type of USB connection of our E7 to “Con PC to net”: from the application menu, settings, connectivity, USB.
6. Multimedia performance: audio and video
Music Player: flawless. The Nokia E7 and its in-ear headphones provide an excellent sound quality in the playback of our favorite mp3 tracks. Once you have connected the headphones and playing a track, the user can adjust the balance between treble / bass thanks to an equalizer with up to 5 preset modes, or go to Options / Settings to enable / disable “loudness or stereo widening”
The user interface is as logical as a classification of content by artist, album, genres or playlists. If you put the E7 in landscape mode it will enter to very particular view, showing the covers of the albums and having an smooth horizontal navigation.
How do we include music on the Nokia E7? Simple, we connect it to a PC / Mac through the USB port, and we wait for a new drive. We only have to copy / paste files and folders from one place to another, always making sure we have the type of USB connection in the phone to “mass storage” mode (menu, settings, connectivity, USB).
Local video player, the Nokia E7 has the ability to play DivX and MKV video either directly on the screen of the device like in a TV screen via HDMI: during my tests I could not play all MKV videos.
If we reproduce video in the AMOLED screen, the images pass fluid and beautifully defined when the file is MKV (HD), while it may provide some dark night scenes if we play DivX content (. Avi): in some cases we get the choice of enlarged image mode, 16:9, or fill the screen.
If we connect the E7 to a TV screen (via HDMI), playback is still quite fluid, although I have seen occasional slowdown in the image with the MKV encoded material, which is probably just due to the 680MHz processor of the device.
The chances of DivX video playback and some MKV is one of the highlights of this smartphone: the 16GB memory could store just over 40 episodes of a tv series digitized at 400MB/episode.
YouTube video playback (via Wi-Fi): The images do not flow with the quality according the encoded source. The Nokia E7 software doesn’t process the HQ definition.
Video recording: Nokia E7 includes 720p HD images with good clarity, quality and detail, especially if reproduced on the screen of the device.
Sample video: YouTube link
7. IMAGE Test!
he Nokia E7 owns an 8MP camera with dual LED flash, with autofocus. Overall picture quality can be seen in the samples under these lines, sharp and clear with good ambient light.
note: size 3264 × 2448
note: size 3264 × 2448
The last two photos were taken indoors.
These two samples above are a clear example of the results to not include an autofocus lens: we will appreciate a clear and detailed flowers in the background, not in the foreground.
The configuration options revolve around 6 preset scene modes, exposure and contrast level, color tone (black and white or sepia), or different resolution choices, for example. Comment that every time you start the camera function (not if only in sleep mode), the sharpness level is set to normal: for superior sharpness, we must change the option manually.
But one of the best features on Symbian ^ 3 is the image editor included: adding text, distorting, change the size of the picture, adjusting brightness / saturation / shadow / contrast, add various effects (color, cartoon, Negative, Solarize , emboss, sketch …), red eyes …. an appropriate complement to adjust images without having to use a personal computer.
8. Connectivity and available storage
In this sense, the owners can not complain about the range of options available. The E7 boastsWi-Fi and Bluetooth, and comment that if the user has trouble connecting to Wi-Fi router, you may need to change the compatibility mode “b / g / n” just to ” b / g “(in the router configuration page): Some devices do not accept the 802.11n standard.
Apple Mac users will enjoy a unique alternative way to get files via Bluetooth: having Bluetooth turned on, one option is to “explore device …” (down from the BT logo that stay at the top right of computer screen), which let you navigate freely through the device memory via folders, and so you can select the files to be imported to the computer: it is the most practical way to obtain, for example, 30 photographs.
The “Communicator” also includes an HDMI output, to playback video and still images hosted on your Smartphone directly from the television screen: the application Nokia Big Screen let the E7 screen emulate a remote control to navigate through the different type of content to view. With the HDMI you can also enjoy the music, connecting the phone to an A/V receiver or Home Cinema via HDMI input. Recall that the Nokia E7 has been certified by Dolby Laboratories, which means that it can send multichannel sound to be performed by Home Theater System
Via HDMI you can also surf the Internet, read email, get on Facebook or Twitter, or play Asphalt 4 …. viewing content on the big screen of a monitor or television.
The E7 micro USB port owns a triple function: first, to charge the device when connected to a computer; secondly, to freely store or transfer files or folders; and a third, thanks to one of the adapters, to standard USB, we can connect an external hard drive or a pendrive to read and transfer content.
The Nokia E7 only has 16GB of internal memory, without the option of inserting a micro SD card to expand storage capacity.
9. Weaknesses / strengths
The purpose of this section is to establish which are the improvable features.
-Sliding QWERTY keyboard to manage e-mail and instant messaging.
-Music and DivX-video playback
-Via USB adapter, reading and obtaining content from USB devices.
-No autofocus camera lens.
-No micro SD card slot
The 680MHz processor is slower than other smartphones in the same or lower price range: the market trend is offering 1Ghz processor or dual-core at 1GHz.
10. General Consideration
I have been very satisfied with the Nokia E7 during the 2-week trial, in my opinion a new “Communicator” that improves the experience on email mainly thanks to its excellent QWERTY keyboard and the touch 4-inch screen.
This Smartphone also stands as a great music and DivX video player, and also enjoying the instant messaging: it’s a pity that the E7 doesn’t include an autofocus lens and we also don’t have micro SD card slot.
The design and construction of this “Communicator” is excellent, comfortable to wear and use, and the best point is that only counts 13.6 mm thickness. Nokia has done a good job, and I personally recommend this device.
Finally I would like to emphasize that within a short time, N8 and E7 will get an update to Symbian Anna, which promises to improve the user experience.
Key features: touchscreen AMOLED 4-inch (640 x 360), 123.7 x 62.4 x 13.6 mm and 175 grams, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 3.0 + A-GPS, 16GB internal memory, 1200mAh battery, physical QWERTY keyboard, 8MP camera + dual LED flash, Dolby certification, USB mode mass storage, 680MHz processor.