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 battery
The Nokia E7 was announced at Nokia World 2010, back in September last year. This event is the company's annual symposium, where resellers, app developers, press and anyone related to the mobile phone industry has a chance to see new products from Nokia and catch-up on their latest developments. The E7 has only recently gone on sale in the UK, where just over half a year has passed since the announcement and handset arriving on shelves. This isn't an unusual tact by Nokia, as their flagship N8 device made its public début back in April 2010 and the mobile officially launched at the same Nokia World gathering - whilst hitting the stores in October.
The 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.
The new form factor and design of the Nokia E7 can be traced back to its consumer sibling, the Nokia N8. Both the E7 and N8 have a long and slim body, with tapered ends at the top and bottom of the phone and on all the sides too. These move into more angular pinched edges, giving the handsets a new design that was previously unseen. Nokia seems to be using this template and form factor for future mobiles, as their recently announced X7 has a similar design where this layout now branches across the three main Finnish phone brands with the N, E and X series.
The Nokia N8 comes in at 113.5mm in length, 59.1mm in width, 12.9mm in thickness whilst weighing in at 135grams. Nokia's E7 is 123.7mm long, 62.4mm wide and is 13.6mm thick, along with being 176grams heavy. As a comparison the last Nokia Communicator from 2007, known as the E90, was 132mm in length, 57mm in width, 20mm thick and weighed in at 210grams - which just goes to show how far the company has come, with this new svelte form.
Nokia has abandoned the two-screen traditional Communicator display in the E7, where instead the Finnish has gone with one large 4-inch AMOLED 640x360 capacitive multi-touch display. The N8 was the first mobile to house a multi touch screen in the Nokia arsenal, whilst the phone also came with an AMOLED screen albeit in a 3.5-inch variant. 2007's E90 Communicator did actually contain a 4-inch screen, only inside of its case which wasn't a touch screen display, where the phone was nowhere near as feature rich as the E7.
The new Communicator's screen is very sharp and bright, in showing text, images and video and it can't really be faulted on display quality at all. This is thanks to the AMOLED display, coupled with Nokia's new ClearBlack technology that's also seen in the C6-01 phone, launched at Nokia World last year. ClearBlack allows for better visibility outdoors and within bright light. This has plagued mobiles many phones for years with the sunlight washing out the screen colour's, making the display's contents very hard to see. When stacked up against the HTC Desire HD's Super LCD screen and the Samsung Galaxy Super AMOLED display in bright sunlight - the Nokia E7's screen is brighter on displaying colours, sharper on the whites and much more clearer on text than all those other screens - in our tests.
Nokia's E7 touch screen is very responsive in selecting and running icons from the Symbian^3 operating system, although selected links on webpages is another matter entirely. One Mobile Ring found the phone's screen often misinterpreted selecting links in webpages. At first, we found this very annoying and infuriating and in both portrait and landscape modes, but we quickly found a work-around. Simply enlarging the screen a small amount, by expanding the image with two digits, allows for a more accurate touch screen experience when selecting small links on webpages that are very close together. There's no rhyme or reason why the smaller buttons from the on-screen virtual keyboard respond very well indeed and the links on a webpage were far more difficult to select.
The Nokia E7 is a fast enough business mobile phone, with email and document writing being its redeeming feature from the responsive physical Qwerty keyboard. The handset runs from 680 MHz ARM 11 processor, which on paper doesn't appears to be a chipset worthy of a high-end corporate phone with 1Ghz CPUs being the standard offering today and dual-core mobiles are set to be the next favourite. Nokia always seems to get that extra mile out of their hardware though due to the bespoke designs and manufacturing processes. The E7 does feel on par with other high-end models despite the lower powered CPU, and within most tasks we put the handset through.
We found the new Communicator handled most tasks without any lag, on email, text messaging, office suite and even video playback with the more demanding 720 HD video codecs. Websites weren't always fast to load, either over mobile broadband or WIFI - which was disappointing, whilst switching between multiple webpages. This let down the device we feel, as the processor seemed to be a good fit, until then.
Nokia's E7 comes with 16GB of built in storage, which is a reasonably expected amount for a business mobile and the highest seen on a Finnish corporate device to date. The consumer focussed N8 is also accompanied by 16GB, but it was expandable from a microSD slot which isn't a part of the Nokia Communicator. This would have been a good addition to the E7 and seeing as both the N8 and E7 use the same hardware, we really can't see why this wasn't included.
The keyboard slides out from under the base of the phone, by pushing the screen upwards with two thumbs. The screen then opens up to a fixed angle, in the same way as their 2009 N97 Qwerty keyboard mobile and also their N97 mini handset. The angle the screen ends up at is a little harsh we feel, as if used away from a flat surface and just between two hands - the screen ends up at a barely visible angle. To properly use the Nokia E7 keyboard, the handset has to be tilted in an odd way to show the screen fully and this isn't the most comfortable method of using a Qwerty keyboard based mobile phone.
Other mobile phones with Qwerty keyboard side-out from under the screen, in a way that the display and keyboard are adjacent to each other and as a result is much more easier to use. The Nokia Communicators traditionally haven't had a fixed angle screen, where they have been easily adjustable to suite all tastes - this feature is sorely missing from the E7.
Stay tuned to One Mobile Ring for part 2 of the Nokia E7 Communicator review soon - where we will cover the OS, Software, Features, Battery Life and our Concluding thoughts about the mobile phone.
Originally published at OneMobileRing.com