Nokia E61i Quick Review

Dsc01466The Nokia E61i is Nokia’s latest communicator style entrant into the business-oriented smartphone arena.  It is a refinement over its predecessors the E61 and E62 in several areas, but the sum of those changes has led to an all-around superior device.  Gone is the flimsy joystick and the all plastic body replaced by a slightly thinner plastic and metal combination, the new Nokia silver D-pad that they are putting on all of their new phones, add in a 2.0 megapixel camera, Wifi (the E61 had this as well, but not the E62 which was favoured more by carriers, for cash-grab on high data rate reasons), and some redesigned buttons all add to increased usability and overall polish.

Kudos:
– Excellent as, you know… a PHONE (so many devices forget about that part…)
– 802.11 b/g built-in
– Bright, sharp, colourful screen
– Excellent build quality
– Solid battery life for a communicator with Wifi, 3G, etc.
– VoIP/SIP support out of the box
– Loud speaker that is side mounted, so even when flat on a desk is loud and clear
– QuickOffice included (though v4.5 is out now and much better, can upgrade at nearly half price)
– Support for numerous email systems, both push and pull.  BlackBerry Connect, Mail for Exchange, etc.
– Nokia Browser based on same open source code base as Apple’s Safari: renders pages just like the desktop!
– Very large collection of third party applications, and large user community
– OTA downloads of applications
– Good (not great) multimedia support
– Nokia Maps support (no more paying for GPS maps!)
– Syncs with Apple iSync

Catcalls:
– Larger than average form-factor uncomfortable for those with smaller hands, or when holding for long voice calls
– No AD2P Bluetooth profile support, or 3.5mm headset jack (though to be fair, this is marketed as an enterprise/business device)
– Proprietary Pop-Port connector
– Limited to 2 GB microSD cards, no support for microSDHC (> 4 GB)
– No text auto-completion shortcuts ala BlackBerry OS
– No built-in repeating alarm clock, and the single alarm function in the Clock app just plain SUCKS
– No 850/1900 mhz UMTS or HSDPA support (though I guess this helps battery life in North America…)
– Camera needs a lot of light, and lacks a flash that would help it
– Occasionally sluggish performance (common S60 ailment)
– Runs out of memory with few apps running (common S60 ailment)
– iSync synchronizes all-day events as 12:00AM – 11:59 PM events (common S60v3 ailment?)

The Verdict:
This device is marketed rightfully so at enterprise customers (the typical BlackBerry set here in North America), but in my opinion is also an excellent device for the ‘connected consumer’.  If all you need is really good email, and possibly corporate email access, then I’d still go with a BlackBerry.

Any busy individual can benefit from an easy-to-use smartphone to keep them organized and in-touch on the go.  The big bright screen provides a lot of real estate to view your schedule or emails.  The keyboard makes responding via email or SMS quick and accurate (provided you’ve got two hands, one-handing is unweildy even for my bear paws).  Built-in 802.11 b/g Wifi means you can get on the internet for far cheaper – and much faster – than using cellular networks.  It’s a competent though not fantastic media device that won’t replace an iPod any time soon, but works well in a pinch.  Very good battery life, so you can safely go away on an extended weekend trip without your charger and not fret about your phone dying when you need it (well, your mileage may vary depending on usage).  And of course, at the end of the day, it makes and takes phone calls with the aplomb you would expect from a Nokia cell phone: very very well.

Final Score: 8 out of 10!

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