Thursday, February 17, 2011

The new QWERTY slinger: the Nokia E7

I managed to get some time alone with the Nokia E7, so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the device.

As you'll quickly notice once you're in the presence of an E7, this thing looks really good. It's got a majestic air about it, something I haven't felt about a Nokia device in a long time. The build quality is superb as is to be expected, and I think the black / very dark gray colour is perhaps the best colour for this prestigious Communicatior heir.

I'm going to break it down real quick, though: for enthusiasts, the E7 is bad news. Its nothing special. For your regular business oriented person, there's no better alternative.


Its pretty obvious what the strengths of this baby are.

The keyboard is simply fantastic, the legend makes perfect sense, plus Nokia has learned from past mistakes to make a decent Scandinavian localisation. Here you see the scandinavian layout of the keys.

The screen is boosted up to a full 4" from the N8's 3.5", which is more than welcome for when you have a lot of text on the screen. It's pretty cool watching videos and photos off this screen also.

Also, like I said the build quality is absolutely fantastic. Every port seems sturdy, and the sling-out mechanism of the keyboard feels solid. It is incredible how a device this slim can A) contain a hardware keyboard and B) achieve this level of sturdyness. Of course the slimness comes at a cost, and I'll talk about that in the weaknesses section.

The E7 comes loaded with the praised Multimedia software initially developed for the N8. Just as well, because the camera is very good, minus a few short comings.

The e-mail app in Symbian^3 is the best there is in any Nokia device, although I must say that Modest (on Maemo) is about as good. I also really enjoyed the calendar, as the big screen is really helpful when viewing the monthly view. The calendar is basically the same from any previous Nokia Symbian device, so rest assured it will probably fill your needs. Little tweaks here and there increase the functionality and appearance of the calendar.

Overall, the performance of the device is surprisingly good. Zinging around the menus is fast and happens without your random Symbian-like stutter, and the device really performs on packing and repacking the videos you capture on the device. I couldn't believe my eyes how fast editing a video and saving it was. I remember I used to edit my videos on my XM5800, and a 2 min clip would process for about 5 minutes after every change to it. Bravo, Nokia.

Below is me zinging around in Ovi Maps. KICK-ASS!


Here we go again, about to embark on a quest into what the weaknesses of a S^3 device are. Now most of the things I ranted about on the N8 are still present. The menu structures are needlessly complicated, duplicate or nonsensical because of translation. English speakers don't really have to worry about the last bit,  but I can only imagine localizations in other countries if Nokia can't pull off a decent translation in its own (previously) native language.

To a large degree I agree with the claim that Symbian only needs an UI overhaul, but there must be a reason Nokia ends up implementing the same kind of mistakes into the UI. For example, the Conversations feature. The point seems to be to make your text message chats look like they do in Android and iOS. Some call this a threaded view. As something that was clearly crafted on Maemo and then implemented into Symbian, its astounding that the version on Symbian is so much worse.

Keskustelut = Conversations

Main gripe: there's the Conversations view and there's the Inbox view. Nokia wants to introduce the new way to do things, doesn't quite finish polishing it and then leaves another way of doing the same thing in the system. Result: clutter, duplicates of functions and confusion. Basically the point with Nokia's Conversations is, that you only get the view, but not the functionality from other platforms. Expect to be using the traditional Nokia method for viewing and replying to messages.

The Nokia E7 has an EDoF camera. This means, that it doesn't really contain optics, probably because of its incredible slimness. I think the camera's really good, except for the fact that I can't take really close-up shots.

Here's a video shot using the camera, showing off this weakness:

I think this video quality is pretty damn impressive, and sound quality is really good as well. But I personally require a macro mode on my cam.

Worse than the lack of macro mode is the lack of any out-of-the-box method of sharing your photos and videos. You can set up your social networking apps such as Facebook and Twitter, but you can only share files up to about 25Mbs through these services. Just under 20s of video on the E7 is already well over 30Mb. I even tried sharing the file through e-mail, but I got an error message saying I couldn't attach anything larger than 300Kb. Is this the attachment size limit for Ovi Mail?

So this is another case of Nokia screwing over their top-of-the-line hardware with sofware that renders it obsolete.

Another strange thing was the browser experience. I don't know if the software on the E7 I was using was somehow jumbled up, but the browser seemed slower than usual. Scrolling was also really erratic  and at times what happened on the site seemed to bring the entire device to a halt. I had good reception and switching over to a fast Wifi didn't help. What's going on here?

Also, the E7 fails to make use of the volume rocker. I was expecting it to zoom in and out in the browser, but I'm stuck with either pinch to zoom or the awkward "tap on text to have the view zoom into it" feature, that makes the text unreadable without constant panning left and right. What's the point behind this feature?


Although my initial tweets about this device were ecstatic, I soon became overburdened by the confusion and shortcomings of Symbian. I'm a heavy user of my device and I demand that the device works the way I want it to, and not the other way around.

I totally see previous Nokia customers being happy with this, as its probably something very familiar to them. It is also a fact, that if previous Symbian devices have served you well, then there's really no risk of moving up to the E7. It will be well worth your money.

For me and other enthusiasts like me, the E7 will feel like it has a tonne of potential, but dissapointment is imminent as the software doesn't allow us to use it to the fullest.

- Chris

1 comment:

  1. If lack of out-of-the-box video sharing renders this phone obsolete for you, this phone is not made for your needs. It's a phone for work.