About a month ago I finally succumbed and bought an E7. So far it's everything I hoped for with a few exceptions. The main exceptions are; not being able to have a shortcut directly to a document and no bluetooth audio to the car kit for the turn by turn navigation. The turn by turn audio only plays on the phone speaker.
The shortcut to a document was something I had become used to through using SPB Shell on my 5800XM and is an option that could be restored if I were to install SPB Shell on the E7. It would be nice option to have built in to the phone.
The lack of bluetooth audio on the maps apps is disappointing. I think it is more an issue with the version of Nokia maps rather than Symbian Anna. It would be nice to think it might be added in an update.
One area I knew would be a step back was the camera as it is fixed focus compared to the auto focus of the 5800XM. The photos don't seem to be as sharp but the up side is the capture time seems to be faster as there is no lag while focusing takes place. The major limitation is for close up photos which I'm slowly getting used to. I didn’t realise how good the 5800XM was as a camera.
One other area that is taking a bit of getting used to are the function buttons which are situated at the bottom of the on screen keyboard when used on portrait mode, particularly, the alpha numeric one. I still prefer the alpha numeric keyboard for texting. I keep hitting the function keys by mistake with my average size fingers, these keys in my opinion would be better placed above the text box out of the way.
Also if you notice a spelling mistake (wrong word chosen using predictive) it isn’t possible to highlight or underline that word to change it you have to clear the word and re enter to new word. While on the subject of text input one bug bear is typing a password in alpha numeric mode. Passwords are entered with predictive turned off and it is not is possible to multiple tap to choose the next character, you get the only the first character every time. i.e To get the letter C you would tap 3 times but all you get is the A 3 times. Perhaps I’m missing a setting somewhere.
Enough of the negatives, otherwise the E7 fulfills my needs very well. The battery life is good for a smartphone, consistently giving two days between charging.
The three home screens are very customisable allowing you to select whatever you want to have on them. The calendar and notifications screens keep you up to date with upcoming events and missed events. When the phone is locked (the phone can be set to auto lock or locked manually) you can choose to have the time displayed (analogue or digital). Pressing the menu key when it is locked allows you to view your next appointment and see notifications of missed events plus it gives you the choice to unlock by pressing the unlock button (no messing around putting in an unlock code). You can also lock and unlock using the slider key on the left side of the phone.
The USB on the Go is one very handy feature allowing access to any data (music, video, documents) on a USB stick. Another handy feature is HDMI which works very well.
The calendar works well and interfaces well with Outlook, appointment invitations sent via email or text can be accepted directly into the calendar.
The email client works very well and is very easy to use to set up an email account, multiple accounts can be set up to bring emails onto the device.
The "conversation" option in messages is great for keeping track of a text thread. Tapping and holding on an unopened text give you several options like “call” “reply” “delete” and one which allows you to listen to your text. That leads nicely on to Vlingo. Most people will have heard all the hype with Siri, well Vlingo does much of the same stuff, you can search the web, write a text, create a reminder etc using voice commands. It’s not perfect but does work quite well. Talking about searching, the search function built into the phone is very useful allowing you to search your phone content or Google the web.
Entering new contacts is easily done. If you have received a text or call just tap and hold the displayed number and you get the option of adding to your contacts. One neat piece of integration is being able to add address details to a contact from Nokia Maps. The flip side of this is you can use the address details from a contact to set a destination for the turn by turn option in Maps.
The Nokia Maps is a very very good app and with the in built compass is able to orientate the map with respect to North. Maps works very well and has other apps integrated into it, like weather which will show the forecast for your current location, “Here and Now” gives you information on happenings close by, there is a “Check In” function that can integrate with the likes of Foursquare etc. The turn by turn navigation is excellent. As most you probably know the maps are stored on the phone so there is no need for a data connection for the turn by turn nav to work. However data can/will be used (depending on settings) to aid in the obtaining of a position each time the GPS is turned on and also for some features like Here and Now and weather info or when doing a search for a location the phone may go online to find some info.
As well as the radio, music player and HD video recorder there’s a host of other features like video and photo editors, I haven’t had a serious play with either of these. One feature I do use though is Joiku spot, the free version is installed out of the box.
There is a raft of productivity tools including QuickOffice, Acrobat Reader, Zip manager, and Dictionary pre installed. The pop out qwerty keyboard comes into its own using the likes of QuickOffice.
The screensaver clock is a nice touch. When the phone is locked you can choose to have either an analogue or digital clock on the screen. Pressing the menu button when the screen is locked brings up a notification of any missed calls or messages and also tells you when your next appointment is, it a nice easy way of knowing what events have or are to happen.
I've download one or two apps. Dragon Site make some nice apps for the E7. I've tried their currency convertor and their convertor which does just about anything you care to name from weight to volume to distance and it includes measures that are not often used even measures used for baking like cups, spoons etc. They also do a very nice compass.
One pretty cool app is Nokia's Panorama though I haven't had time to use this in anger. Of course there's Angry Birds which is very addictive and a great consumer of time. Another app that is a must is 'Custom Dictionary', it's done by Nokia Beta Labs and allows you to edit the text dictionary. How often have you incorrectly spelt a word and for ever afterwards it comes up when you text, with Custom Dictionary you can edit or delete these words. It's a fantastic tool.
The OEM browser is a big improvement on earlier versions however I still prefer Opera Mobile. One other app I use a lot is Sportstracker.
Apart from the screen size the biggest reason for replacing the 5800 with the E7 was the pop out qwerty keyboard which is excellent. The keys are backlit making it easy to use in low light situations. The screen is tilted with the keyboard open, putting the keyboard at an easy to read angle. This keyboard makes a great stand for watching videos. I’ve typed most of this article using the pop out keyboard.
The E7 is a solid, good looking, well built device. It does a good job and is nice to use. It’s not perfect, but what phone is? We all have differing requirements over and above the basic phone requirements which means our preferences are different. The E7 does what I want pretty well for now and the foreseeable future.