What's hot: Sleek metal casing, tons of features for the price.
What's not: Push email experience can't compete with the BlackBerry.
Review posted May 11, 2009 by Lisa Gade, Editor
When we reviewed the unlocked GSM Nokia E71 NAM 9 months ago, we loved it, as did most reviewers. For an unlocked phone it was reasonably priced, had drop-dead good looks, a metal casing, plenty of features and the stability of Symbian with S60. It took AT&T some time to pick up this smartphone and two big questions are: 1) does the E71 still impress after 9 months 2) has AT&T improved on or conversely hobbled the E71 in its "x" incarnation?
You can read our review of the E71 to learn most everything about this phone. We won't rehash since most things are the same. But for those of you who don't follow unlocked phones like the E71, here's the rundown on the Nokia E71x:
It's a Symbian OS 9.2 smartphone running Nokia's S60 software
It has a QWERTY keyboard
GPS with aGPS is on-board along with AT&T Navigator
Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR and WiFi 802.11b/g networking
QVGA non-touch screen
It syncs with PCs and Macs, and it supports IMAP, POP3 and MS Exchange email.
3.2 MP camera with autofocus lens, music player, video player
Bargain priced at $99 with a 2 year contract (or lower!)
The E71x is largely unchanged from the unlocked model in terms of hardware. It features the same super-slim body, metal casing, quality construction and very compact yet usable keyboard. AT&T's version is black vs. the unlocked model's gray steel, and their logo graces the front of the phone- otherwise all is the same. The only missing hardware on the E71x is the FM radio, a feature AT&T usually axes, presumably because they'd like you to subscribe to the XM Radio service they offer.
How about software? The E71x actually runs a slightly newer version of S60: S60 3rd Edition Feature pack 2 vs. the E71's 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1. Nokia Maps, Nokia's subscription-based navigation application has been replaced by AT&T Navigator. Though Nokia Maps has come a long way, we still prefer AT&T Navigator (Telenav) for its simpler user interface and solid directions. You can use Google Maps with the E71x-- the GPS is not locked down. Nokia Maps is a no-go though: we downloaded the E71 version of Nokia Maps 2.0 but it refused to install on the E71x.
Though Flash Lite isn't listed in the Nokia E71x's specs, a visit to the desktop version of YouTube indicates it's there since we could play Flash videos. This works well in terms of performance over WiFi, the phone's QVGA display is too small to show most videos (the videos are higher resolution and so run off the screen). Performance over a good HSDPA connection wasn't so impressive, and often the video started to stream but never played.
The Nokia E71x competes with the BlackBerry: they're both QWERTY bar smartphones with advanced email capabilities. The E71x comes with a customized version of Nokia's standard email client that removes Nokia's IMAP/POP3 support. For those you'll need to use AT&T's XpressMail (it and MS Exchange Sync are included with the phone). Thus the phone supports SMS, MMS, POP3, IMAP and MS Exchange email. There currently is no BlackBerry Connect software for the Nokia E71x. You can download and install Nokia's new email application, Nokia Messaging, a more modern and pleasant email client that supports up to 10 email accounts, HTML email and SSL transfer of emails.
Nokia and AT&T have done a good job with the E71x. Generally Nokia's GPS haven't been the quickest to get a fix, and Nokia Maps wasn't the most intuitive application. The E71x gets a fix in 10 seconds (even indoors near a window) and AT&T Navigator (TeleNav) is one of the best phone navigation applications on the market. It's intuitive, easy to use, has a very good POI database, logical routing and clear spoken directions. This is one area where the Nokia E71x beats the E71, at least in the US where Nokia Maps is a little weak.
AT&T smartphone trio: The Samsung Propel Pro, Nokia E71x and BlackBerry Bold.
The camera alas isn't much improved over the E71. It's a 3.2 megapixel autofocus model with an LED flash and self-portait mirror. Autofocus is still a little strange-- rather than half-pressing the d-pad or camera key, you have to press the T key on the keyboard to autofocus, then press the d-pad center button to shoot, or the camera will take the photo in fixed focus mode. Low light images are noisy, while outdoor shots sometimes have poor color balance, though overall colors are better on the E71x than the E71.
Multimedia applications run well on the Nokia, and these include Nokia's music player, Real Player and CV (AT&T's streaming video service that's included with their data plans).
The Nokia E71x, like the E71, comes with a 1500 mAh Lithium Ion battery. That's a healthy battery by smartphone standards, and the E71x has better than average battery life for a 3G smartphone. The phone lasted us 3 days with moderate use (email checked on a 30 minute schedule through the business day).
What about the Nokia E63?
If you're interested in the Nokia E71x rather than the E71 because you want to save money, there's also the unlocked Nokia E63 to consider. The E63, like the E71, is sold direct by Nokia USA and other online retailers. It shares the E71's design, display and keyboard but changes a few things to bring the price down to approximately $250: the body is plastic, it's slightly thicker though still thin, there's no GPS and 3G is the slower WCDMA variety.
The Nokia E71x offers a great deal of bang for the buck. It's well-made, super-slim, attractive, has a good QWERTY keyboard, good reception and Nokia's usual very good voice quality. AT&T adds way too much bloatware(icons for trial apps and games you'll probably never use), but performance in terms of speed and stability is good (and similar to the unlocked E71). For $99 with contract, it's hard to find anything to complain about, the Nokia E71x is a good messaging smartphone and though it the original version came out 10 months ago, it's still a strong phone.
Pro: Very reasonably priced, yet high quality smartphone. Very slim, gorgeous design and solid. Responsive and stable. Good HTML web browser, good CV streaming video playback performance. Very good GPS performance.
Con: Push email lovers who are addicted to BlackBerry phones might be disappointed with the Nokia's email client (it's hard to beat RIM in that regard). AT&T removed Nokia's standard IMAP/POP3 email and has added a ton of trial apps whose icons clutter the screen.
Display:2.36" diagonal, 16 million color
TFT color active matrix LCD. Resolution:
QVGA 320 x 240.
Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Model BP-4L 1500 mAh. Claimed GSM talk time: 5 hours. Claimed 3G talk time: 4.5 hours.
Performance:Single core ARM11 family CPU running at 369MHz. 256 megs NAND flash memory with ~117 megs free. 128 megs RAM.
Size:4.49 x 2.24 x 0.39 inches. 4.44 ounces.
Phone:GSM quad band 850/900/1800/1900MHz with EDGE support. 3G HSDPA 3.6Mbps on the US 850/1900MHz bands. Has speakerphone and voice dialing.
Camera: 3.2 MP with LED flash. F2.8 lens, 3.8mm focal length. Max photo resolution: 2048 x 1536. Max video resolution: 320 x 240 QVGA at 15fps. Secondary (front-facing) camera resolution: VGA for photos, 128 x 96 for video.
GPS:Integrated aGPS with AT&T Navigator.
in speaker, mic and 2.5mm stereo headphone
jack. Nokia music player, RealPlayer, voice recorder and photo viewer included. Has FM radio with RDS. Supports MTP mode.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR. Supported Bluetooth profiles: DUN, OPP, FTP, SPP, HFP, GOEP, HSP, BIP, RSAP, GAVDP, AVRCP and A2DP. Has IR port.
Software:Symbian OS 9.2, S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2. Full PIM suite (calendar, contacts, notes), email (POP3, IMAP, Exchange), SMS/MMS, QuickOffice (MS Office compatible suite that reads and writes Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents), AT&T Navigator, CV, text to speech, encryption utility, calculator, world clock, search, wireless printing, Adobe PDF viewer, file manager, unit converter, Java VM, camera, voice recorder, Gallery, Zip manager, music player and application downloader. Syncing software for Windows on CD, and a free iSync plugin for Mac OS X via download. AT&T subscription and other applications: Yellow Pages, Media Mall, My-Cast Weather, Mobile Banking, MobiTV, AT&T Music and a variety of trial games.