I’ve had a few weeks now of living with my new phone, a Nokia E71, including a couple of weeks of being on the road.
I haven’t owned a Symbian-based phone for many years, the last few phones I’ve had have been Windows-based, which despite what most people say, I’ve been pretty happy with. However, my last phone started to get flaky, so it was time to look for a new one.
I played with the 3G iPhone for quite awhile. While it is indeed as shmick as most people say, the biggest failing for me was the keyboard. I do almost as many emails on my phone as I do on my laptop, and I just couldn’t get used to the virtual keyboard.
In the end I was won over by the E71. It’s slim, has a great physical keyboard, and the battery life leaves my Windows phone for dead. Now that I’ve lived with it for a few weeks, I’m used to the Symbian OS and am actually kind of impressed with the thought that has gone into a lot of it. For example, just about everything I’ve wanted to find shortcut keys for I’ve been able to, which suggests this has had plenty of user input from previous versions put back into it.
However, there are a few big issues, but thankfully I’ve been able to find workarounds for each of them:
- Astonishingly, there is no USB charger included in the box. Yes, there is a USB cable, but it is for communicating between your phone and your PC, not for charging. WTF? I travel a lot, and I try to travel light, so I try not to take any device with me that can’t be charged by hooking it up to my laptop. Otherwise I’d be lugging around (and no doubt losing) half a dozen power adapters. I went to the local phone accessories store and they wanted to charge me AU$80 for a genuine Nokia USB charger. Thankfully, I found someone selling third-party ones on EBay for AU$2.49 plus a couple of bucks postage. I bought two for under $10 total
- The web browser is awful. Maybe that’s unfair, maybe they were going for "retro" as it feels like using Netscape back in the 90’s. Thankfully, Opera Mini rode to the rescue. This thing is free and full of awesome-ness. Why the hell would Nokia write their own, they should just cut a deal with Opera?
- The included Nokia Maps app for the GPS looks like it was written by the same group who did the browser. Standing out in an open area it took 8 minutes to lock onto enough satellites to show me my location. Download Google Maps. I can start it, find my location, search for an address and start navigating in about a minute. In that time the Nokia app has just got past the splash screen.
With these additions, the E71 is possibly the best phone I’ve used. Without them, it’s got a lot of potential but doesn’t quite get there.