What's not: OS isn't as expedient to use as BlackBerry.
Reviewed June 14, 2010 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The Nokia E71 was an iconic phone that even as an unlocked and unsubsidized phone, sold well in the US. Late in its life, AT&T picked it up as the Nokia E71x where it enjoyed modest success though it was long in the tooth by then and a bit overrun with AT&T bloatware. T-Mobile customers, left out of the 3G love nonetheless bought the unlocked E71, especially early in its life when many T-Mobile smartphones still shipped with EDGE 2G data. The phone-loving world waited with great excitement when Nokia announced the E72, the successor to the E71 boasting improved specs and who knows what special sauce Nokia might throw in. By the time the phone made it to the US, again unlocked, in February 2010, it didn't add much to the once-proven E71 formula. It had a better camera, a significantly faster CPU and a slightly newer version of S60 software on top of Symbian OS and nothing new to rave about.
Four months later, T-Mobile US has picked up their version as the Nokia E73 Mode. While Nokia usually goes with a numeric appendage to indicate it's the same phone with different 3G bands (e.g.: Nokia E72-1, Nokia E72-3), this time they've created a new model number for the T-Mo version. The Nokia E73 is basically a Nokia E72 with T-Mobile 3G bands and carrier software (not much carrier software since T-Mobile doesn't muck up their phones with bloatware). Parts of this review are taken from the E72 review given the near identical hardware and software.
The good news is that you can get a very capable Nokia S60 QWERTY smartphone not too long after the US unlocked release for a very attractive $69.99 with contract. The bad news is that the E73, like the E72, doesn't bring any features to the table that will set the world on fire. The other good news is that the E73 Mode has stunning hardware: a metal back, very solid build, superb keyboard and an incredibly thin design. This is a very, very nice looking and feeling phone. No plastic BlackBerry Curve 8520 here, despite the low price. Kudos to Nokia for finding a way to sell high end hardware at such a competitive price.
The Nokia E73 Mode has a QVGA non-touchscreen display, an optical trackpad, 3G HSDPA, WiFi, a GPS, Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR, an SDHC microSD card slot and a 5 megapixel autofocus camera. It runs on a 600MHz ARM11 CPU with 128 megs of RAM (we'd like more RAM) and 512 megs of flash memory with 250 megs available.
Here's our 10 minute video review of the Nokia E73 Mode:
The Nokia E73 Mode is so named because it allows you to create modes to match your lifestyle. This feature has been available on Nokia S60 phones for some time, but it's the first T-Mobile Nokia phone to offer it. With modes you can have a work and home mode with a specific set of home screen shortcuts, ringers and wallpaper. It's handy and unique to Nokia's phones. The E73 is a QWERTY messaging smorgasbord with Nokia's own IMAP/POP3 email client, SMS/MMS and T-Mobile's IM client that handles MSN Live Messenger, Yahoo, AIM, MySpace IM and Gtalk. You can download Nokia's Mail for Exchange client for MS Exchange support as well. The mail client handles HTML email well, but we found email a bit more trying to configure than on BlackBerry phones. Gmail email support is available and you can download Google's S60 sync software too.
If you're a serious email addict who wants instantaneous email delivery and a unified inbox and notification system, the Nokia won't tempt you. Likewise the current Bold 9700 and Curve 8520 have higher resolution displays and sharper fonts (Nokia needs to update their system font). But for the less addicted and tied to work, the E73 works acceptably for email. The E73 Mode scores a big win in the web browser department: Nokia's Webkit-based web browser is still top notch while RIM's browser is notoriously weak with full HTML sites. Both the E73 and BlackBerry phones running BIS (personal rather than enterprise email) cost the same in terms of monthly data plan fees. Since this is a smartphone with 3G, T-Mobile requires that you sign up for data if you purchase the phone with a contract.
The BlackBerry 9700 and Nokia E73 Mode.
Both BlackBerry models have excellent keyboards, as does the Nokia Mode. The Nokia falls short in optimization for ease of use. While BlackBerry OS and non-touchscreen hardware are exquisitely well designed to work with the trackpad and keyboard (lots of keyboard shortcuts, text fields that are optimally handled to reduce keystrokes and hand movement), the E73's optical trackpad is better than prior Nokia phones but still not quite there and text fields don't sense number vs. alpha input masks automatically, and you sometimes have to use a softkey instead of the enter key to register text in a field. If you're a Nokia person, you're used to this and won't be bothered. If you're converting from a prior BlackBerry it will drive you bonkers.
Phone and Internet
The quad band GSM E73 will work anywhere in the world GSM service is available for calls and data on GPRS and EDGE. It has 3G HSDPA up to 10.2 Mbps for use overseas and with T-Mobile in the US. Call quality is very good, as per usual for Nokia E and Nseries smartphones. The rear-firing speakerphone, powered by a large mono speaker, is too quiet but it is clear. We tested the phone with several Bluetooth headsets including the Jawbone 2 and Plantronics Discovery 925 and it worked well in terms of voice quality and connection reliability. Bluetooth range was average, and we got about 15 feet before voice quality began to degrade.
Nokia's excellent Webkit browser is on board with Flash support, and it does a good job of rendering full HTML sites accurately and quickly. Since this isn't a touch screen phone, you use the d-pad to move a virtual cursor around web pages. At QVGA resolution, you'll only see very small sections of desktop-oriented sites, so plan on plenty of scrolling. Though the browser is capable enough, the low resolution means we wouldn't recommend this smartphone to someone who plans to spend a lot of time web browsing. 3G HSDPA speeds on T-Mobile's network in the Dallas area were excellent and too fast to test using mobile speed tests. When using the phone as a modem for our MacBook Pro, we got speeds nearing 4 megs down and 1.5 megs up!
GPS and Camera
The E73 Mode has a built-in GPS with aGPS, and both Nokia Maps 3 and TeleNav are on board. Ovi Maps gives the E73 and other recent S60 smartphones an edge against other smartphones that require you to pay for turn-by-turn spoken navigation. Nokia Maps' routing is acceptable, but their POI database is very spotty in the US. TeleNav, a $10/month navigation service with excellent POIs and spoken directions worked very well on the E73. We had no trouble with the GPS hardware at all, in fact it performed quite well and managed fast fixes and solid satellite locks.
The 5 megapixel autofocus camera is a vast improvement over the E71's lower resolution shooter. It isn't just the higher resolution; images are sharper and clearer with better exposure. The E73 still can't compare to Nokia's own Nseries phones and their superior cameras, but for a business phone, this is a decent camera. The phone can also shoot VGA video at 15 fps and there's a flash that's useful for close range shooting.
If you're a Nokia S60 person and want a QWERTY smartphone, the Nokia E73 Mode is likely to please. And if you want a candy bar form factor smartphone with a keyboard but dislike BlackBerry phones, the E73 is also a hot pick. But for those who just need a QWERTY phone and don't care about the smart part, the E73 will require a more expensive data plan than T-Mobile's QWERTY feature phones like the Samsung Gravity. While the E73 Mode's hardware design and quality are top notch, S60 is showing its age and it lacks the extreme email handling and optimized OS that are hallmarks of RIM's BlackBerry OS (aging though it too is). And Nokia's excellent web browser is wasted on the low resolution QVGA display, making it hard to recommend this smartphone to serious web users (consider a touch screen phone like the Samsung Behold II , MyTouch 3G Slide or the HTC HD2 instead). But it's not all doom and gloom: the Nokia has a very good camera for a business phone, a great keyboard, the usual excellent Nokia reception and call quality and the phone comes with free navigation courtesy of Ovi Maps. The Nokia E73 Mode is an excellent voice phone that's quite capable for messaging too.
Price: $69.99 with a 2 year contract after rebates.
Display:24 bit QVGA 320 x 240 pixel color LCD. Diagonal screen measurement: 2.36 inches. Has accelerometer and ambient light sensor.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable, 1500 mAh (BP-4L). Uses the smaller round charger connector and not micro USB (uses micro USB for sync).
Performance:ARM 11 600 MHz processor. 128 megs RAM. 512 MB Flash ROM with 250 megs
available to store applications and data.
Size:4.48 x 2.34 x 0.4 inches. Weight: 4.5 ounces.
Phone:GSM quad band 850/900/1800/1900MHz with EDGE and 3G HSDPA on the 900/1700/2100 MHz bands. HSDPA speeds up to 10.2 Mbps supported.
Camera:5.0 MP with autofocus lens and LED flash. Max photo resolution: 2592 x 1944. Max video resolution: VGA 640 x 480 at 15 fps.
GPS: Has GPS with aGPS and a compass. The GPS works with the free Ovi Maps and TeleNav navigation.
Audio and Video:Built
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Gallery, Flash Player, Real Player and music player included. Supported video formats: GPP formats (H.263), Flash Video, H.264/AVC, MPEG-4, RealVideo 7,8,9/10 and WMV. Supported audio formats: AAC, AAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AU, eAAC+, M4A, MIDI Tones (poly 64), MP3, MP4, RealAudio 7, 8, 10, SP-MIDI, True tones, WAV and WMA.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR with a full suite of profiles including A2DP stereo and DUN.
Software:Symbian OS 9.4 with S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2. QuickOffice for viewing and editing MS Office apps, unit converter, zip application, full PIM suite, email client, Webkit web browser, Gallery (for photo and video viewing), RealPlayer, music player, YouTube player, TeleNav, Ovi Store, Visual Voicemail, Google search, Facebook, Twitter, IM (Yahoo, MSN, Gtalk, MySpace IM), Adobe PDF viewer, Ovi Files, WiPresenter, Active Notes, Calculator and MultiScanner.