Symbian^3, 4-inch 640x360 capacitive AMOLED touch screen, 16GB storage, 8MP camera, dual LED Flash, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSPA, GPS, WIFI b/g/n/, 3.5mm audio jack, microHDMI, microUSB, USB On-the-Go, GPS, A-GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, 1200 mAh Li-Ion batteryThe Nokia E7 is the Finnish phone company’s first Communicator branded handset since 2007, where they have filled in those missing years with more BlackBerry-esque looking devices within their business range. The traditional Communicator models date back to the late 90s. These are all with a more familiar T9 keypad with a small screen on the front of the phone, with the handset opening out into two halves to show a full Qwerty keyboard on one side and a larger screen on the other. This design of Nokia mobile phone has stayed with the series across a 15-year period and over the seven different models of the Communicator, until now.
In part one of the review we covered the Nokia’s E7 Dimensions, Screen and Hardware – where now we move on to the OS, Software, Features, Battery Life and our final thoughts on the Nokia E7.
Nokia’s E7 Symbian^3 operating system is the same version that run's on the consumer N8 handset, where it first appeared on that very mobile phone. The OS is now appearing on the Nokia C6-01, C7-00, E6 and X7 – all of which are decent touch screen devices, thanks to the new platform.
Symbian has been greatly overhauled since the last Qwerty based keyboard touch screen Nokia N97 handset, which could very well be seen as the precursor to the Nokia E7. The N97 came with the S60 5th edition platform, which was seen on over 12 different phones although it really wasn’t geared up to be a veritable touch screen OS and had its critics as a result.
Symbian^3 as a platform has now been greatly improved, with a reported 250 new features from the last S60 iteration. The new operating system brings in multi touch support for touch screens that didn’t feature as a part of the previous platform. There are also three customisable home screens, where only one was found on the S60 5th edition to be populated by widgets and applications.
The older version of the platform needed a double tap to open apps and run icons, this has been replaced by a single tap that reflects the phone’s competitor UIs found on their handsets. The virtual onscreen keyboard has been reworked too, which is highly noticeable in landscape mode and now feels like a competitor to Android. The onscreen keyboard’s typing area now fills the top half of the screen, where in the last OS it was only displayed in about two thirds of the screen and didn't offer up a great experience.
As a touch screen OS Symbian^3 is now a version of the Nokia OS that works fairly well and almost on par with other OS’s such as Android - only from a few years ago. It’s not as sleek and polished as other platforms around today, but will suffice as a better Symbian OS
Besides the new Symbian^3 OS, the Nokia E7 is accompanied by a range of applications that aren’t apart of consumer handsets and for a good reason too – they’re not business focussed devices. There’s a series of applications that aren’t found on the Nokia N8 whilst being geared up for the enterprise, with tighter security measures and document editing – although both the E7 and N8 handsets do have access to email servers, only found in the corporate environment.
Preinstalled on the Nokia E7 F-Secure Anti-theft for Mobile, which allows for the phone to be located when lost, locked when missing and remotely wiped if stolen - all from a single SMS sent to the phone. If the mobile has been stolen and someone tries to put in a new SIM, the Theft Control feature of F-Secure locks the phone and informs its owner of the new number of the handset – all of which are decent security measures, to back up a business device.
Also installed is Quickoffice dynamic premium, which isn’t found in the N8 although that handset does offer up the viewing of office docs – just not editing. The dynamic premium product allows for office document creating and editing of Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and even PowerPoint presentations. Quickoffice Premier 6 features support for.DOC, .DOCX, .XLS, .XLSX and .PPT attachments, with 100% Microsoft Office compatibility for versions 97, 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007. Once again this is ideal for a business phone and not always on offer for other handsets, with a keyboard or not.
There is the regularly found Nokia Ovi player and Ovi suite, along with Ovi Maps. The latter of which is the preinstalled Sat Nav software from Nokia, with maps already on the device and not brought down over the air, as with Google Mapss. Ovi maps will also be a feature of the Windows Phone 7 OS in the future, as a part of the Microsoft-Nokia deal which just goes to show how valuable the resource really is.
Nokia’s E7 arrives with a few items that stand out as features. Two of which are on the N8 handset, with one of them becoming more of a standard feature inside of flagship devices on other mobile phones, from different manufactures.
Built-in to the business handset is a microHDMI port, which when connected to HD compatible screen, from the provided cable, can mirror the phone’s screen onto that larger display. This alone is useful for the likes of presentations or just to see the phone on a bigger screen, but the reason it is provided is for the playback of video.
The microHDMI port is hidden on the top of the E7 under a covering protective flap, adjacent to the open microUSB socket that’s used not only for charging the phone but also to provide a cable based data connection. Nokia’s microHDMI port can offer up the playback of video up to HD 720p, along with supporting a range of video codecs and even support for Dolby Digital Plus surround sound – but there are some limitations. The internal memory is formatted in FAT32, where files above 4GB in size cannot be stored on the handset and therefore can’t be played through the HDMI socket. Some of the more popular video codes that were thought to been supported actually aren’t, as a whole series of the high quality MKV files could not be played which just leaves the lesser quality DiVX/XviD as a compatible format – which are new to Symbian.
A rarely seen ability has been included in the Nokia handset; USB On-the-Go. This feature allows for a USB flash drives or any USB based external hard drives to be accessed by the E7. This is from the accompanying cable that attaches to the microUSB port, delivering access to a regular size standard USB connector.
The ‘drive’ appears upon connecting up to the phone, as external storage and then offers access to all of the drives contents, which in conjunction with the wide array of pre-installed software provides a great deal of usefulness to the mobile. There are some limits here too, which does reflect somewhat on the file size limitations we discovered with video files. USB On-the-Go cannot support the NTFS file system in anyway, with the error message on the E7 appearing as ‘memory card corrupted’, even though the same drive is accessible by a regular computer.
Nokia’s E7 camera has been reduced down to an 8 megapixel variant, from the 12MP version found in the flagship E8 handset. On offer still is 720p HD 25 fps H.264 video recording, along with 3xdigital zoon for video and 2xdigital zoom for photos. No picture quality has been lost in the business mobile, where both take good quality images and are comparable to other phones from HTC and Samsung.
The battery on the Nokia E7 mirrors the offering on the E8, in that it is sealed into the phone’s rear and in a completely non-removable way. This is an unusual tact for mobile phone manufacturers these days, where the last notable time this method was used is on the Apple iPhone. This too had much criticism when the first model arrived, but was soon accepted later on in the series – which might be the case here.
A removable battery may not seem the biggest issue for a consumer mobile phone, as when the phone dies, the phone dies and not much is lost. In a business phone, the battery is a mission critical part of the handset and although it’s not a matter of life or death but if an email goes unanswered, or if a call is missed this could damage the company’s business overall.
In saying that, the Nokia E7 lasted a decent amount of time in our testing. We set-up the handset with access to email from a Microsoft Exchange server, along with social networking feeds from both Facebook and Twitter – all of which had the default settings for pulling down emails and updates. In a few consecutive tests after a full charge each time, the Nokia managed to make just over five hours and fifty-six minutes worth of calls. This means the phone will comfortably last a full day in excessive usage, a couple of days on average use and a few more days on infrequent use.
The Bottom Line
As a Nokia Communicator the phone is the perfect evolution of the brand, a good fit and successor to past models. The E7 is a well designed handset and does look good in the business world, with a nice form factor and good responsive keyboard. There is a great deal the handset has to offer, from the large clear AMOLED responsive display, to the miniHDMI port and USB on-the-go feature.
Unfortunately the OS lets it down, as Symbian has seen its day and even Nokia has given up on it and have moved across to the Microsoft Windows Phone. Symbian^3 just feels tired in comparison these days to Android, along with other handset platforms too. The user interface feels clunky and not all that easy to navigate to someone new to Symbian, in addition to being limited in applications. The E7 will still have its supporters though, but those will undoubtedly be die-hard Nokia and Symbian fans.
Originally published at OneMobileRing.com