Nokia E7 - 3/4 Green

My favourite subject at varsity is Criminal Law; it is like CSI Las Vegas in every lecture. Recently we started discussing voluntariness. Is someone voluntary when they commit a crime? If they are, then the heavy hand of the law has its way with them, if they are not, then off they go for dinner after trial. There are multiple defenses to prove involuntariness; one that stood out for me was severe emotional stress. This is when the accused suffers a traumatic event, which puts him in such a state that he becomes unaware of his actions, thus involuntary.

This got me thinking about the Nokia E7 and how it can help you get away with murder.

Starting on the low, software

The E7 is running Nokia’s latest iteration of Symbian^3. Here is the trouble, Symbian is old; it has been changed and updated over the years to suit what we use smart phones for today. It is clear that it was not designed with the current 2011 user, or with the current competition in mind. As a result, despite Nokia’s best efforts, the E7 is a painful device to use.

Setup was smooth enough, until it decided to freeze and reboot itself. Upon reboot, it then had the audacity to ask me for my email password – the same one I had just entered 2 minutes before! This happened quite a bit, not the reboot but the constant requests for passwords. Every time you enter the Ovi Store to do some app shopping it asks you to login, the music store is just the same and the social application is the worst of the bunch.

Initially I thought this integrated social app was awesome, Twitter and Facebook on one screen, neatly organized, it was a recipe for success. The problem is Nokia cant cook. Here are the issues, firstly the login problem was intermittent, every so often it would ask you to enter your password; secondly it only notifies you of a @you tweet or Facebook friend request on the little widget, or not at all, if it decided to log you out. This sucked, as it pretty much leaves you out of the social conversation because how often do you check that you are logged in.

Okay, the social app is not great but this is a business phone, so that should not be important – Email, that’s suitably corporate. Well there was another problem. Like a ton of companies TechHuman runs on Microsoft Exchange via Google Apps, which when it works, runs beautifully on the E7. The issue is that it doesn’t work a good portion of the time. For some reason it kept on logging out of Exchange, only prompting a re-login when the email app is opened. This means that you will miss out on emails and your calendar and contacts will not sync half the time.

The E7 does come with a ton of business centric apps, which all look very intelligent but there is no way on this earth I would use the E7 in my business.

Yes, it has a built in dictionary but it is not as useful as the App available is free on the iTunes Store, BlackBerry App World and Android App Store. Yes, it has Microsoft Communicator, which so far as I can tell the only company that uses it is Microsoft. Yes, it has free navigation software.

Actually, that last point is the glimmer of gold in the murky depths of Symbain^3. I have long thought that Ovi maps is the best navigation app to be found on any smartphone. The reason is simple, on the iPhone TomTom and Navigon morphed their current navigation software to work on a smartphone. It is the same with Garmap for Mobile on Android. On the other hand, Ovi Maps was designed to work on a smartphone from the start. The result is Ovi Maps handles phone calls extremely smoothly while still navigating. In addition, Symbian^3 multitasks rather well, so playing music through your cars aux port, whilst navigating, is again very simple.

The browser, an increasingly important application on a smartphone is annoying. Nokia have fixed the issue of Symbian asking you every two seconds which connection you would like to use to connect to the net. But it is still there, open the browser and “would you like to connect using…” I don’t care what connection you use, just connect me to the interwebs! Webpage rendering is also below par and the whole double-tap to zoom thing doesn’t work, period.

Build Quality

I had mixed feelings about this. The simple fact is; the Nokia E7 is one of the best build phones on the market. It rivals the iPhone directly and makes anything by HTC, BlackBerry and especially Samsung feel like children make them out of the crappy knock-off Lego. The body is made from smooth aluminium and the screen from glass. It is tapered at the edges to fit comfortably in the hand and the slide mechanism to reveal the keyboard is an industrial engineers wet dream. The E7 is remarkable well put together and the full QWERTY keyboard is just awesome, with great feedback, and unless you have the fingers of a five year old, super easy to type with.

Multimedia features are not the core of the E7 but they are still important. Unfortunately, they are not up to scratch. The camera, at a serious 8-megapixel is not as good as Nokia want us to believe, but if the lighting is right it still is a decent camera. The music player is disappointing; it lacks oomph and dynamic range. In short, the iPhone 4 and most high-end Android phones in terms of multimedia capabilities makes the E7 look a bit stupid.

The build quality should have saved the E7 but it did just the opposite. Because it is built so beautifully I wanted to love it, so I tried. I tried for nearly two entire weeks! I tried to put up with Symbain’s shortfalls, but after those weeks I was practically homicidal. Coming from an iPhone 4, and before that a BlackBerry Bold, I was used to consistency, reliability and constant connectivity. I got none of that from the E7. And there it was, I just got a good legal defense.

Brendon AmbroseManaging Editor | About Me – Scared of: Clowns, spiders and Hilary Clinton; Dream Wing Man: Jacob Zuma; Started Writing Tech: 2005 for; Favorite cereal: Frosties; Find me on: Twitter & Facebook