Finally! Nokia finally got around to announcing the E71 and the E66, both of which have been floating around the Internet for the better part of six months. Both devices are updates to other models, the E71 being the progeny of the E61/62, and the E66 being the offspring of the E65. While these new E series devices bear a certain amount of resemblance to their forebears, they take Nokia's business line in a new direction.
The E71 is simply gorgeous. It is probably the most attractive QWERTY device out there. It is sleek, slender, light weight, and sets a new bar with its fine fit and finish. Materials are quality metals, and plastics made to resemble metal. The overall size is nearly that of the iPhone (perhaps 1mm shorter and narrower), but the E71 bests the E61/62 by a long shot when it comes to how thin it is. It is practically anemic. It feels comfortable in your hand, and isn't so wide or cumbersome that you don't like it. It will slip in and out of jeans pockets with ease.
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Despite its small footprint, it packs in some serious usability. It has a full QWERTY keyboard. This keyboard is fairly narrow, but still manages to work well. The keys were simple plastic keys, but they had nice travel and feedback. Though we made some mistakes in our first test of the keyboard, we imagine with regular use, one will get used to how small it is. Speaking of small, the navigation cluster is perhaps the E71s only sticking point. Nokia really reduced the size of all the keys surrounding the D-pad (there are eight of them). I found them to be a little bit difficult to hit accurately with my thumb, given their proximity to one another. The D-pad itself looks as though it was lifted directly from the E51, which bears a striking family resemblance to the E71. It is square, with a large button in the center. It works well enough for navigating around the phone's screen.
Ah, the screen. Nokia stuffed the largest screen possible into the E71. It isn't as big as the screen on the E61/62, but it is large enough to suit most purposes. The resolution is high enough that icons, pictures and other items on the screen looked clear and sharp. The screen is also bright.
The E71 comes loaded with a 3.2 megapixel auto-focus camera with flash. This camera is flat-out one of the fastest auto-focusing cameras we've ever seen. Pressing the shutter release button focuses and snaps the picture nearly instantaneously (see the video). According to Nokia, the E71 is being powered by a much faster processor than on other phones. The media software has been improved a little bit, but it isn't as robust (or as fun to use) as its N series cousins.
It has 3G, WiFi, stereo Bluetooth, support for microSD cards and much, much more. You name it, the E71 probably has it.
Overall, we're very excited about this phone. It may have taken Nokia a few steps to get here, but the E71 is what QWERTY phones should be all about.
Here is a video preview: