A couple of days with the Nokia E7

The E90 communicator successor … that was the first thought that came to me the moment my buddy Asri Al-Baker of www.i-symbian.com handed me a review unit of the Nokia E7.

I had two Nokia communicators before, the Nokia 9500 and the Nokia 9300, and flipping the E7 brought my thoughts back to the “commies” I had use. The large display. The mini keyboard. All very familiar.

I am using a Nokia N8 now, so I have already expected the sturdy build quality of the E7. Sliding the display part of the E7 reveals a nicely arranged “chiclet” type keyboard which is quite comfortable to use. The keys are a little bit small to my liking but the spacing of the keys is just right. People with large thumbs, like yours truly here, should be able to thumb type on this comfortably. Having said that, however, as far as smartphones keyboard goes, I like the ones on the 9500 communictor best.

The sliding mechanism on the E7 is quite similar to one the N97, but unlike the latter which opens up with a strong “snap”, the sliding mechanism on the E7 feels very smooth with a good spring resistance.

After switching on the E7, I was presented with a beautiful display. The four inch AMOLED display produces bright, punchy colours. And I thought my N8 has great screen. The E7 comes with a display Nokia claims to have CBD (Clear Black Display) technology. Whatever they did to it … it’s fantastic! I don’t have a screenshot here, but under direct sunlight, the E7 excels over the N8. The large 4-inch display means bigger icons on the screen and larger fonts on display, very eye-friendly.

I am not an audiophile but I do listen to music once in a while, so I tested out the music playing capabilities with the E7 next. I played a tune on the external speakers of the phone, it did sound a little “tiny” compared to the sound produced on my N8, but I don’t usually listen to music using a phone speaker, anyway.

Here’s a trick I use if I want to listen to music using a phones external speaker. I place the phone in an empty glass. The sound bouncing in the glass somehow gives a “fuller” output.

Plugging in the headphones gives a better sound quality. Personally, using an earphone, I find the sound quality from the E7 is undistinguishable from my N8. Other people might disagree, but like I said, I am no audiophile.

Still on audio, I have a small issue with the volume toggle … yeah … the toggle is too small. The volume toggle works very much like the unlock slider. Also, the volume slider on the E7 is located where the unlock slider is on the N8. I find myself accidentally flipping the volume toggle when trying to unlock the phone. It’s not a big problem really, with time I am sure I’ll get used to it. And, this should not be an issue to a non-N8 user.

The teeny weeny volume toggle. The chrome trimming is a nice touch.

As a voice communication device, the E7 performs well. Incoming calls are clear and people on the other side can hear me fine as well. This in most important for me, the voice call quality must be good to qualify as a smartphone. Otherwise, I’d just get a cheap phone for voice calls and use a tablet computer for my computing needs.

When inserting a SIM to check out the phone functions for the first time, I liked the design of the SIM tray. I just need to pull out the whole SIM tray, place the SIM card and push it all back in. I was impressed with the ease to insert the SIM. However, on second thought, if the SIM drawer did not latch properly and fall off, I’d lose the SIM drawer as well as my SIM card. So, it is harder to insert or remove SIM card on the N8, but I like the mechanism better, because if at all I lose the cover, the SIM is still locked in the “bay” with a spring mechanism. Or, under the phone’s battery like most other phone. It’s almost impossible to lose the SIM unless you lose the phone as well.

The Nokia E7 SIM Tray
The SIM Tray viewed from the other side. The whole tray pulls right out!

The E7 sports an 8 mega pixel camera. It’s an EDoF (extended Depth of Field) camera, which means you don’t have to do any focusing …  point and shoot. Everything from three feet onwards would be in focus. I have read some review of the E7 camera explaining how much technology was put into the EDoF technology. Me, I look at the end result, and I don’t really like the final output. Well, it’s an E-series phone anyway, and Nokia assumes people in the “enterprise market” does not use much camera function (or doesn’t really care) … well, yeah! Put a good camera on every phone, and you’ll get a winner phone, anytime.

I only had the E7 for a few day, so, I can’t comment much on the battery consumption. On the days that I had the E7, the phone got me through the day with “my” normal usage pattern. I set the phone to fetch email every 15 minutes, I had Gravity on during lunch break to catch up with some daily tweets, and roughly 60 minutes of voice calls. Oh! … one point to highlight. This phone only charges through micro USB. I’d love it if the phone has a 2mm charging jack as well, so I can make use of my other Nokia chargers lying around at home and at my office.

Having played with the Nokia E7 for a couple of days, I find it comparable with the Nokia N8 I am using now. The E7 comes with a physical keyboard but lacks a good camera. The N8 has a smaller screen but it you can add up to 32MB microSD card to the phones storage. The E7 comes with 16MB, and that’s it!

All depends on what one needs … me … I need a phone with a good camera. That means I won’t be trading my N8 with the Nokia E7.

I may sound to be nitpicking … well, I believe I am, because the Nokia E7 is a very good smartphone and I could not find much fault about it. Other than the points I highlighted here, the E7 is a real performer. Powered with Symbian^3 operating system, the phone is very stable, like every other symbian powered device that I’ve ever used. The applications bundled with the smartphone should make every user as productive as he or she wants to be. It’s not the technology … It’s what you do with it!


  1. Jamal, OS very solid but like has been said by many, the UI-UX needs to be updated. The OS is capable. I personally installed SBP mobile shell on my N8 to get a “richer” experience using. If a third party app can do it, I don’t see why Nokia can’t improve on the user experience yet.

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