Nokia E71 review

£315
Price when reviewed

Let’s not beat around the bush: this is a brilliant phone. If you only have ten seconds to spare, want push email and don’t shudder at the price, we’ll bid you farewell and point you in the direction of your nearest phone retailer. Buy it, be happy, farewell.

So why’s the E71 so brilliant? For a start, there’s its physicality. Compared to the BlackBerry 8820 or the Nokia E61, its predecessor, the E71 makes Twiggy look a bit podgy. Less than 1cm thick, Nokia correctly lauds it as the slimmest qwerty keyboard smartphone. It’s also narrower than rivals: 57mm may not sound much less than the 8820’s 66mm, but place the E71 next to the 8820 on a desk and the difference is noticeable.

Despite this lack of width, Nokia squeezes in a full QWERTY keyboard, and amazingly it’s among the very best we’ve used. Inevitably for such a compact device, typing requires precision, so you’ll find writing expansive emails frustrating. But few will complain, and it’s certainly more pleasant to type on than the Toshiba Portégé G710.

There is a strong alternative in the form of RIM’s BlackBerry Pearl 8120, which forgoes the single letter per key approach but still allows you type quickly thanks to clever word prediction and a QWERTY layout. The 8120 is slimmer than the E71, but thicker.

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We’re also fans of the E71’s screen, a bright affair measuring 320 pixels across and 240 down. While some will bemoan the lack of detail, its sharpness makes everything from photos to websites look pleasant. It’s also highly visible even in direct sunlight – another advantage it holds over the cheaper G710.

Wireless

Browsing is made all the more pleasant by the inclusion of HDSPA support, and as the networks’ coverage just keeps on increasing you’ll grow more and more used to seeing the “3.5G” stamp at the top-left of the screen.

Theoretically this offers up to 3.6Mb/sec downloads, but in our ad-hoc speed test – downloading a 5MB PDF over Vodafone’s 3.5G network – it took 90 seconds. That equates to 0.5Mb/sec, which is a more realistic download speed based on our overall experience.

Aside from the standard quad-band support, the E71 includes infrared, Bluetooth and 802.11g WLAN. Infrared may sound anachronistic, but it’s still useful if you need to quickly transfer a file between the phone and a laptop.

But it’s the Wi-Fi radio that you’ll probably use the most, and we found the bundled client extremely easy to use: moments after you set it scanning, it will detect all available networks and offer a list of access points to choose from.

Integrated GPS

As is becoming increasingly common, the E71 also includes a GPS receiver – in fact, Assisted GPS. We were pleased to see full-featured mapping software included too, in the form of Nokia’s most recent Maps 2 offering.

You can either search for an address in its database or use GPS to pinpoint you on the map, and with turn-by-turn driving directions an optional subscription-based upgrade (£7 for a month, £20 for three months, £55 for a year), there’s even the opportunity for in-car navigation.

Nokia also offers traffic update information on a subscription basis: £3 for a month, £6 for three months or £15.86 for a year.

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