Nokia E71 - the Q & A

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My review of the Nokia E71, after a week with a production device, still left a few questions in the air, apparently. Rounding up everybody's comments so far, I've attempted (below) to try and answer all the questions about the E71, with Rafe (who also has a production device) pitching in to help. [Heavily updated - again]

E71 review images

From the questions asked directly in all our news stories yesterday. We'll be adding to this Q&A throughout Tuesday and building in future comments to this story into the main text.

"FP1 mid 2008 in a business phone is unpardonable!"

Completely disagree. Business users needs more reliability and not less and S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 is too new. Business devices will appears with FP2 in time.

"Can we now finally search contacts by the Company field? Does smart search also include company names?"

No and no. Sorry. However you can use the built in Search application to do this.

"Did I read the specifications correctly that said the E71 had, of all archaic things, *Dynamic RAM*???"

E71 has the same memory arrangements as every other Symbian OS device for the last 5 years.

"Can you tell me what the USB transfer speed is like?"

Please read the review! I covered this. It's USB 2 like other S60 3.1 devices, so real world speeds are 1MB/s, roughly.

"But in new E71 there's no space between buttons and the device itself is not so wide to use it with two hands. Is it much less comfortable for both hands operating or not?"

The new keyboard is great, it's fine for my fairly nimble thumbs - but anyone with large thumbs will struggle.

Rafe adds: I had no trouble using it two handed, but those with large fingers may struggle. As for any such device I'd really recommend people try it out before buying it. A side benefit of the shrinking keyboard is that it is now very easy to use one handed (something I never really managed with the E61).

"For that screen size I would expect 640x480 and nothing less. Still a rather nice hardware, despite the outdated resolution."
"More of the same boring screen resolution... I´m tired of that! None evolution at all, phone after phone"

I disagree. VGA on a 2.4" screen is completely and utterly wasted. You wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Maybe VGA would help slightly when viewing images, and maybe Web would become more flexible, but overall, considering the price point, I think Nokia made the right call on this one.

"If it gets BlackBerry Connect, I'm in... sounds like there's no agreement over this yet though :("

Nokia were a bit cagey about this, I get the feeling that agreements and projects have yet to be finalised with regard RIM...

Rafe adds: I asked about this several times and the official line was that there is no Blackberry support. However it is worth noting that the same was true for the E51. Despite this an older version of the Blackberry software (for the E90) did work on the E51. I do not have a Blackberry mailbox so can not test this on the E71. I suspect part of the fuzziness around this issue is to do with that the E71 is a much closer competitor to RIM's hardware.

"Nokia clearly decided not to compete with Apple on the visual appeal of the GUI. These icons look like Windows 3.1 vintage designs (or Windows 2000, at the most)."

There's nothing wrong with the icons. What kind of world is it when the colour depth of the shortcut icons is an important factor in choosing a handheld? Or maybe I'm just too old-school.... 8-)

Rafe adds: Remember that icons are part of themes and can therefore easily be changed. I would expect operator variants to use their own themes to fit it with their branding. One of the nice features of the E71 is that it is highly customisable in the home screen, theming and application layout - more so than any other comparable device that I can think of. Market research consistantly shows this is a popular feature point across all market segments.

"Does anybody know what colours are would be available? I like my silver E51 with black keys. I not so sure about the silver/white keys...."

The black plastic/gunmetal version is shipping now. The white plastic/silver version will ship in a month or two - apparently.

"zomg 4cm macro! Is it automatic (like no need to select anything after opening the camera), or do you have to still go select macro mode when you're taking a picture from 4cm distance?"

Automatic. 8-) Really, really cool. I'll be doing a dedicated E71 multimedia article shortly, covering these areas in more depth.

"Is the voip functionality the same as on E51?"

Yes the VoIP functionality is the same as the E51.

"I'm very tempted by the E71 but will E-Series ever have categories support??"

Can't say 'never', but there's no sign of categories in the E71.

"Steve - it's FP2 so why no mention of the new calendar app or smooth screen transitions?"

No, it's FP1. Really.

"The Messaging application itself is largely unchanged from earlier devices which is something of a dissapointment "

Agreed. Considering the hoo-ha that Nokia made of email yesterday, to have done little to Messaging seems criminal. The E71 product manager did demonstrate that they'd done some performance tweaks to it, which is better than nothing.

It is also possible that the Messaging application could receive an update via a new firmware version. We were unable to get anything official on this though.

"I was SO looking forward to this phone since with all those features it would have been a near perfect device for blogging my upcoming half year trip around the world. But then I clicked on the camera samples and .... WTF?! Hey Nokia, 2001 called, they want their crappycam back."

Bear in mind that several of those samples were deliberately taken in low light, to see how the E71 would cope. Watch for another article on this, with more examples and comments, shortly.

"A question: what is the theme used in the reviewed E71? It looks like the good old 6600 and S60v1."

I only used the built-in themes. No doubt p@sco or similar will come up with a retro-fittable clone sometime soon 8-)

"gsmarena spec sheet says that it has VGA video recording @ 22fps. Any comment on this?"

It's wrong, as is Nokia's web site. It's QVGA at 15fps.

"The tethering application. I take it its compatable with both windows xp and vista? Is it also compatable with linux?"

Yes, to all Windows versions, I seriously doubt it will work with Linux though.

"Let's hope the native SIP stack doesn't go missing from the E66 and E71 like it apparently has from the N78, as that was a dumb move."

The SIP stack and, just as important, the Internet Telephone application is present in both the E66 and E77.

"I think there is an accelerometer built in?"

No accelerometer on the E71.

"Also the dimensions and weight, how well the HSDPA and WIFI connections fare."

112 x 57 x 10mm and 120g. Feels really solid and well made. HSDPA and Wi-Fi were fine.

"On the audio front, is there any hiss issue? I get too much hiss with my E90 on low volumes. What is the audio quality be comparable to - which device?"

Slight hiss, but no more than you'd expect from an electronic device. Audio comparable to the 9500 or 6630, I'd say. Better than the E61i, certainly, but not as good as the N91 or N95.

"How good is the browser on the E71? Does anyone know any links to reviews of the browser with this screen resolution? FYI, I am not much of a youtube fan, but I do use a lot of other web 2.0 sites and other web services."

It's the same browser and resolution as on the N95 and, arguably, as on the E61i (but with the FP1 additions). The browser's good, but obviously there's a lot of scrolling around to be done on non-mobile-optimised pages.

"with it being USB 1.1, is that going to limit the speeds using it as a tethered HSDPA modem?"

Err... 1MB/s (~ 11Mbps) is faster than you'll ever need in terms of mobile broadband!

"after using n95 I really want a qwerty.. but man, all the sample pics taken with this thing, not too impressive. I thought "atleast it records vga video", and now you tell me the specs are wrong "

Again, to re-iterate, there's a detailed camera comparison coming shortly.

"E-series being business centric.... Have they any plans to bring in a camera-free version, like the camera-free E51(not yet available in most places, at least in India, which is a booming IT market that has many organizations restricting the use of camera in their premises) to tackle SE's Lizy???"

No, there are no E71 plans for this, as far as I know.

"A problem I face with the E61 is that the phone sometimes doesn’t scan networks real-time, i.e. says no networks found, even when I'm standing next to the router(Even if I enable wireless scan for every 1 min), but works with WLAN wizard that is not made for the fone... Has this issue been addressed in this phone??"

Sometimes failing to see a WLAN when scanning is a long-time quirk of the S60 WLAN scanner and I think this hasn't been fixed yet. Still, there's no NSU support for the E71 yet either - early days etc.

Rafe adds: It is a newer version of the WiFi scannin software, but whether it has fixed this problem is diffuclt to say.

"If this phone is not FP2, then I don’t understand what they mean by this at the nokia site.. - S60 3.1 Edition, Eseries - Symbian Os 9.2 "

3.1 means 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1.

"Yes, I have a question, what is your take on Nokia's decision on having the Intellisync client built into the handset? Smart move or wishful thinking?"

It is not built in as such. Like mail for Exchange you wil have to install it. In some cases the phone will come preconfigured or with software pre-installed. Clearly Nokia are going to support and recommend their own solution, but are also sensible enough to realise most people are using something else and are not going to switch.

"VGA makes a makes a massive difference to me. Don't knock something until you try it."

I've tried lots of VGA and better handhelds. And for 98% of the time QVGA is just as good, at least on this small a screen.

"Ok rather specific question I know. I often drag emails on to tasks or calendars to create new items in Outlook. When this syncs with my E90/E65/E61 the details text of the new item is reformatted into a rather strange view. The text is there but without alot of spaces, breaks etc. It still occurs when I use an alternative Calendar app such as Papyrus. It happens when using MfE (2.5 i think) and BlackBerry Connect 4.0."

Sounds like an incompatibilty between platform text line-end handling. No sure who to actually blame though....

"If I switch to E71 from N95 8GB, what would disappoint me most? (i'm not bothered about the camera)"

Not a lot, if the camera is ruled out etc. You may also miss the bigger screen on the N95 8GB. Video play back is also not as good.

"was there any mention of the processor speed somwhere? i surely missed that."

Rafe adds: It is the same single chip Freescale platform found in the other recent Nokia devices.

"gsmarena aside from mentioning vga @22fps, also mentioned usb 2. is this wrong too?"

Yep. In my tests, xfers were at 1MB/s or less, so almost certainly USB 1.1. Trust All About Symbian!

"Are there any E71 cases yet? You're the case-maestro!"

No, but there's this: - which fits perfectly, once the elastic's worn in a little. The E71 also comes with a slip case in the box.

"But I like the occasional common Java games. How is the compatibility considering the flipped resolution?"

Pretty good. Half the games I tried worked without issues, half either worked but weren't perfect, or popped up a 'landscape not supported' error. My trials weren't exhaustive though.

"How is the earpiece speaker volume on incoming calls? This is a dealbreaker with I have some hearing issues. Nokia has a reputation of having super-quiet this one LOUD?"

Yes, very loud, nice clear call audio even on half volume.

"is it as fast as E51 or better?? i've used both e61 and e61i and most disappointed by the slowness after having it for few months and more and more data on the phone. like having 1200 contacts and 1000 of sms and hundreds of emails, opening contact or sms takes 3 seconds or more and it is frustrating. i changed to e51 because of that, but i really miss the keyboard input. in e61i, try opening a contact with 27details, it will take its time to view, but in e51 it takes less than 1 sec."

All contact lookups and operations are effectively instantaneous on the E71, everything I did was fast enough not to be able to time. 8-) [I had 800 contacts loaded]

Rafe adds: If anything its even quicker than the E51.

"In gsmarena it stated Talk time Up to 10 h 30 min. And you've stated that the 1500mAh will power the E71 for an eternity."

When I said an eternity, I didn't mean the whole gazillions of years thing.... 8-) Take spec sheet claims with a pinch of salt. The E61i lasted for days of use on a single charge, so will the E71. Trust me - battery life will not be a problem.

"Specifically do VPM & Coreplayer work ok on this phone? They are excellent on the E61i so I'm hoping it's the same"

Virtual Pool Mobile works but the ball animation is a bit jerky. You could live with it though. Haven't tried Coreplayer but suspect it too wouldn't be as smooth as on the N95 (e.g.)

"the email client is slow and doesn't display HTML emails unless you click 'attachment' and view the email in the browser. It's a clunky and archaic system and frustrating the Nokia's software developers seem to think it's not worth changing!"

Agreed, and we bent Nokia's ears to that effect. Having said that, there are some speed optimisations in Messaging and with the faster processor, slow operation isn't that big a deal.

"the absence of sorting/searching contacts by the company name. Has that finally been fixed?"

Nope. I've never needed to do this though - I'm guessing Nokia reckon it's not a hugely in-demand feature?

Rafe adds: You can search by company name by the Search application (outside the contacts application).

"Mobile Data Systems Center Manager (think of RIM's BES fully decked out, just from Microsoft with MobileVPN & ActiveDirectory used). Is this supported in the future?"

We asked about this and were met with blank looks - so I gues that would be a no - for now, at least.

Rafe adds: No I don't think so. I think Nokia would want you using your own solution. I'm not an expert of this though. The E61 does support the remote lock / wipe function of Exchange so there may be some cross compatibility.

"Steve just to let you know you can get a full detailed spec of the E71 here including CPU speed."

Oh, don't believe everything you read there. They still claim video recording is VGA, for example.

"I think you will find that it still is USB2.0 even if the speed is only 11mbit/s. It will just be USB 2.0 "Full Speed" instead of "Hi-Speed". Nokia phones have supported USB2.0 for quite a while, but I think it was the N78 that was the first Hi-Speed phone."

Thanks for the clarification. Either way, transfers are at 1MB/s or thereabouts. But not a huge problem for non media-centric people.

Rafe adds: Yes that's correct. The reason for this is support in the uderlying OS.

Will it support N-Gage?

No there are no plans for N-Gage support. We were told that the hardware platform optimisations mean that this is not possible. I was a bit suprised by this answer as it uses the same Freescale platform as the N81. However the exact hardware configuration may be different as it is optimised for different usage.

What about other Ovi services?

The E71 ships with Nokia Maps 2.0, Music shop and Share Online so Maps, Music and Share are supported. It seems likely that other services (e.g. Sync) will be supported in the future.

Any other questions?

Steve Litchfield and Rafe Blandford

A flock of E71s!!