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Review: Nokia E71

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I am going to just go ahead and say it. The Nokia E71 is a smartphone for snobs. It is one of the best looking QWERTY phones I've seen in a long time. If you beat your phone up constantly, the E71 is not for you. Not that this phone is delicate, but it exudes professionalism, elegance and sophistication. I can easily picture it appearing in a Grey Poupon commercial, or being slipped into the pocket of someone rich (no, not Paris Hilton) as they climb into a limo.

The E71 is almost nothing like its predecessors. Where the E61/62 were super chunky, squarish blocks, the E71 is all smooth, rounded edges. It is essentially an E51 that's been stretched out just wide enough to fit a full QWERTY keyboard onto the front.

It feels weighty and solid in your hand. It is made with lots of metal materials, and is densely packed. The smooth edges make it easy to grasp, though it is just wide enough that you can't get your fingers all the way around it. It slips easily into your pocket, and, if it weren't for its weight, you might not know that it is there.

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The screen is large enough, though I wish it were a tad larger. Perhaps one of the faults of the E71 — something directly related to the phone's small size — is the cramped buttons and controls. Similar to the E51, the soft keys, D-pad and shortcut keys are tiny. The soft keys and send/end keys are "L" shaped, and together form a box. In this box is where the dedicated Home, Calendar, Contacts and Mail keys are located. Each of these keys is small. If you have fat fingers, it may be difficult to press the correct button.

The D-pad is a squarish shape that surrounds the center button. The high ridge of the D-pad make it easy to find and use, and the center button is also large.

QWERTY keyboards on smartphones come in all shapes and sizes. Many have debated just how good the QWERTY keyboards are on several Nokia phones, such as the E90 and E61/62. The E71's keyboard is much narrower than those on the E61/622, and this is a good, good thing. They keys are made of plastic, and offer good travel and feedback. They are rounded humps, and you can definitely tell when your thumb has moved from one to the next. The one issue is that they are small and packed together tightly. It takes some getting used to, but once you become accustomed to it, you can type quickly and accurately using this keyboard. The space bar is adequately large, and Nokia took care to give the comma and period their own buttons.

On the left edge of the phone are two rubber hatches covering the microSD slot and microUSB port. I like the rubber hatches (compared to hard, plastic hatches). They peel back easily.

On the right side, you'll find a 2.5mm headset jack. Below that is the volume toggle, with a convenience key located in the middle of the volume toggle. These three buttons are the only thing about the E71 that doesn't seem up to par. The travel was good, but feedback felt cheap and "plastick-y".

On the top of the phone, you'll find a red power button. This button stands out starkly from the otherwise metallic look on the phone. The power button also allows you to quickly switch between ringer profiles.

The back of the phone houses the camera, flash, and vanity mirror. The back plate that covers the battery was easy to remove, but not as easy to replace. Since it is made of metal, we noticed that it became extremely warm when the phone is used for calls longer than about 15 minutes.


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