My love/hate relationship with the E71x

nokia-e71x gear diary

Since late May, my main phone has been a Nokia E71x. It is my first Symbian phone, but I owned Nokia feature phones before and had good memories of them, so I was quite excited to get to know a smarter, fancier Nokia. I’d read good things about Symbian as well as bad ones. Universally, the hardware was praised, but the software reception was a good more lukewarm. My E71x and I have good days and bad days; last week I was ready to sing its praises to the world, this week I’m a bit more annoyed and seem to be seeing nothing but its flaws. Nokia has been trying harder to muscle into the North American market, most recently by offering some incredible deals on AT&T. So I thought it would be helpful to share the good and the bad sides of my Symbian experience.

Handy Shell'd main screen

Handy Shell'd main screen

I love my phone because:
-The hardware truly is amazing. Very solid construction, and the metal body adds another level of luxury to the whole thing.
-The screen looks great even in direct sunlight.
-The battery simply will not die. I had one night where I forgot to charge it. The first low battery message hit at 9:30am, and the phone finally gave up and shut down around 4pm. I did have to deal with low battery warnings every 20 minutes, but I was still able to take a few important calls throughout the day, which was fantastic.
-I’ve stopped carrying around my digital camera most days, as the one on the E71x isn’t bad. It’s not great, but it certainly takes decent pictures. And there are various options to tweak and otherwise attempt to improve the picture quality, which is a nice bonus.
-Whether it is the antenna, Nokia’s special magic software sauce, or just AT&T being exceptional in my area, but the signal strength is astounding. And the internet connection is downright zippy even when being used for tethering through Nokia PC Suite.
The settings screen...half the icons are redundant, and the other half just lead to more menus!

The settings screen...half the icons are redundant, and the other half just lead to more menus!

I hate my phone because:
-Was Symbian designed by a drunk monkey? It’s a guessing game to determine where settings are for various programs, and with the fractured nature of Symbian’s feature packs what worked in one version might not in another. It does mean I find new and exciting features every day, but it also means I discover basic ones don’t exist or don’t make sense (see email, notifications therein).
-AT&T attempted to choke the life out of the poor phone with a shocking amount of bloatware. Normally I just ignore the handful of carrier apps that are installed on a branded phone, but it was ridiculous. Luckily, Matt Miller over at Nokia Experts had a great tutorial on how to remove many of the programs, but it means digging a bit deeper into the operating system (and knowing where to find the instructions!)
-As I referenced above, Symbian is a bit confusing. There’s Series 60 v3 and v5…S60v3 has two feature packs, and v5 is the touchscreen version. But just because an app is available for Symbian does not mean it is compatible with your particular phone. I found that it was easier to identify my phone as a more well known feature pack 2 device (like the E75), since many software sites don’t have the E71x broken out as separate from the E71 (even though the E71x uses Feature Pack 2). Again, not a HUGE deal, but if you are not terribly tech-savvy it gets very disorienting trying to work it all out.
-I seriously think it was coated entirely in teflon and butter. In the last 4 years I have owned a Treo 650, an original iPhone, a Samsung Epix, and now the E71x. Excluding the Nokia, I maybe dropped each of them once. In 3 months of ownership I’ve dropped the E71x five times. Luckily it is built like a tank, but still! Teflon phone, I swear!
-Email. Oh god, email. I almost threw my phone out the window today over email. Nokia Email, Seven Beta, Emoze, Profimail and GMail all have various issues, and I have yet to settle on one that is mostly satisfactory.
And yet, despite all the reasons I hate my phone, I don’t see myself changing it up anytime soon. It is a solid PHONE, and that is what matters most to me. I thought this little love/hate rundown would be helpful with the release of the Nokia Surge, and ┬áthe fact that the E71x is one of the best priced smartphones on AT&T right now. So if you’re looking for a budget smartphone, or you want a very smart qwerty phone for texting, etc., there are some very affordable options out there for you. There are compromises (as there are in all things) but as a basic smartphone the E71x is worth strongly considering.
Samples of the camera in action:
E71x sample shot 1 gear diary
Night shot E71x Gear Diary
Flying biker E71x gear diary
Mt Hood E71x Gear Diary

Categories: Reviews

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6 replies

  1. Pretty much my thoughts there as well Carly!! I bought an E71 back when they came out, and used it for a solid 8mths before I was dragged away by the Touch HD because of its screen. The E71 is simply a brilliant phone, and manages to combine a super phone (good call/signal quality and battery life) with features like email, web browsing and other apps without bringing the whole thing to a halt.

    It still sits on my desk, waiting for me to pick it up. And with its sleek, stainless steel casing, it is incredibly tempting to go back to it…

  2. Great post!

    I had an E71 for a week when I was looking for a possible iPhone replacement. I really liked the hardware of the phone. It felt great in the hand, it was responsive and, over all, was a quality piece of work. I soooooooooo disliked Symbian however. Up until now I didn’t know quite how to express it however. Thanks to you I do… for I too wonder..

    “Was Symbian designed by a drunk monkey?”

  3. Glad you agreed, Dan!

    Maybe the infinite monkeys writing shakespeare were out during happy hour and that’s where Symbian comes from?

  4. Of course, Symbian is also derived from EPOC, the OS that powered the Psion PDA’s.

  5. Interestingly, apparently in the ‘N97 replacement’ RX-51 will not have S60 Symbian OS but instead move to Maemo Linux.


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