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Nokia E71x Review


Nokia E71x Review

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We took a look at the Nokia E71, an unlocked smartphone capable of surfing AT&T's 3G network. Since then, AT&T has picked up the phone for its own. The new phone sees a few improvements, including the new Symbian S60 Feature Pack 2, though instead of the newer Symbian interface, the phone is mostly built around AT&T's sponsored apps.


Even after 10 months, the Nokia E71x is still the best looking slab QWERTY phone on the market. It certainly beats its rivals on AT&T, the Samsung BlackJack II and the Motorola Q, by a country mile. Like those earlier slabs, the Nokia E71x lacks a touchscreen, but we never missed it. The phone is a slim, slick device, now clad in an aggressively cool black color. It has a steel housing, giving it a dense, sturdy feel, though all that metal adds some extra weight.

Though there are some visual improvements in the new Symbian S60 feature pack 2, they're hardly noticeable, and the Symbian OS lags behind farther than ever. Even Windows Mobile Smartphone (non-touchscreen) is a better looking OS. On the Nokia E71x, the menus are repetitive and confusing, the shortcuts never offer to take you where you want to go, and behind every corner is a confusing configuration menu of some sort. The main menu screen is cluttered with AT&T's junk, from (which does not deserve its own icon), to the AT&T Music icon, which actually leads to yet another menu, and not the music player.

The phone also loses some interesting elements from the Nokia E71 unlocked version. The older phone had a mode switch option that let the user swap between a set of business-minded defaults and personal settings. The new phone is all business.


Calls on our Nokia E71x review unit sounded good, but not quite as good as they did on the E71 that we tested. The phone made calls that sounded a bit metallic and tinny. Calls were a bit bright, and could distort on the high end. Reception was still solid. Battery life, too, was comparable. We approached 5 hours again with straight calling, and noticed the same dramatic drop-off when the phone was checking our Exchange server more regularly.

One of our favorite features on the Nokia E71, and on all Windows Mobile Smartphones, is the ability to start searching the contact list from the home screen by simply typing a contact's name. You start typing, the phone starts searching. Not so on the Nokia E71x. This phone simply dials numbers from the home screen, a strange feature to remove on AT&T's part. The address book is adequate, with plenty of fields for a smartphone. We wish the call logs were a bit more intelligent. We like seeing call durations, and we love when a phone can append that information directly to a contact, neither of which the E71x can handle.

Otherwise, the Nokia E71x has all our favorite calling features. Speaker-independent voice dialing works better on this phone than on many other Nokia phones we've tried in the past. It wasn't perfect, but it worked about 3/4 of the time in our tests. The speakerphone was nice and loud, but not abusively so.


The Nokia E71x has an impressive array of messaging options, and it keeps up with some of the best phones AT&T has to offer. Text messaging was straight forward, lacking the threaded messaging support we're seeing on today's best new smartphones. With threaded messaging, text messaging line up in a conversation to look like an IM chat. Speaking of IM, AT&T's Nokia E71x gets support for Oz's instant messaging app, a feature the unlocked version lacked. You can chat with buddies over AOL, MSN or Yahoo messaging services, which is nice, but we'd like to see Gtalk support.

The Nokia E71x support Microsoft Exchange through Nokia's Mail for Exchange app. The app doesn't come preloaded, you have to download the app to set up the service. We had a lot of trouble getting this to work properly. We entered our settings numerous times, then downloaded the app only to find a blank browser window and no way to find the downloaded app on the phone. After a restart, it magically appeared, but we had to enter our server setting yet another time. Once we got that squared away, the app worked like a charm, synchronizing our e-mail, contacts and calendar.

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