A week with my new Nokia E71

A new cell-phone had been on the top of my wishlist ever since I had full-filled the wish to have a website. I have been evaluating phones forever, but for over a year now, the intention has been to buy one 🙂 Last Diwali I had haunted for HTC Touch, a PDA that I had decided on buying. Unfortunately, it wasn’t readily available anywhere. At one store, I had seen the new Nokia E66 and E71 that made me rethink on Symbian phones. From that time to now, I had been saving money for a E71 that I finally got last Sunday. Here’s a quick review…

But my Nokia 6600 was behaving too nice off-late. The only trouble was with the keypad, which too after basic maintenance worked well. I had used this phone for over 4 years now, and so far it required only 1 visit to Nokia Care Center and 1 battery change. It still features the original panels & keypads. Two things I loved about this phone were the robustness and the Symbian OS. I could do a lot on my phone: listen to MP3, back-up SMS & contacts, schedule & count SMS, browse dictionaries & the internet, play games, and a lot more…

This time I wanted a business phone, with a decent camera, screen size & music player. None of the PDA features good cameras with flash. The problem with Windows phones is that there is little software available free to extend functionality. The Symbian community is way too large. I also tried comparing prices on various websites, stores and even across states 🙂 Finally, I purchased one from a local store at Rs.16K.

Contacts & Calendar

Nokia provided a Switch application that can import contacts, messages, calendar entries, etc from another Symbian phone. The application was sent to my 6600 via Bluetooth that pushed all the content into my E71. The drawback here was that information related to groups was not passed – I had to regroup 1200 contacts manually. I maintain a dossier of everyone in my phone – numbers, email & birthdays before anything else. I was quite eager to see birthdays being automatically read and displayed on the home-screen. But the phone does not add birthdays to the calendar, you need to manually set reminders for each birthday.

Maps

Inbuilt maps, that I was so excited about, never worked. There was a guide on installing maps that required downloading the Nokia Maps Loader app, to download the 123 MB Indian map collection. But this app lost connection with the server when 70% done, at least 15 times. I finally downloaded found a hack: I downloaded the Zip myself and extracted the files to the Maps directory on the flash card. After all this, searching for places by keywords always fails – even if you search one of the places on the map.

Messaging

I also downloaded the Ovi Suite, which Nokia claims is a great way to access the phone & back-up data. Ever since I used it with my phone, speed dial information was lost. Messages & call hardly ever showed the contact name. All my messages started showing Contact Names without a space between the parts (1). The older problem of incoming messages displaying the contact name in Last-First format still exists (1). The color of Auto-find highlighted text is highly inconsistent (2).

The point where I really lost it with this phone is when some SMS just wouldn’t open. For some, I received an error message (4). For a few others, no matter how many times I click to open it, there is no error message, yet the message doesn’t open. I still have one such message in my Inbox for demonstration. I have been unable to read & missed several important SMS due to this. If you happen to receive a file via Bluetooth in a format unknown to the phone, you can’t open the message or save it. This is an essential feature since you might have to share files specific to applications like CAD, computer programming, etc (3).

Nokia E71 - Messaging Issues
Nokia E71 – Messaging Issues

Accessories

The phone came along with a charger, headphones, a 2GB MMC, software CD and a manual. The plastic rim on one of the ends of my headset had fallen away in less than a month (5). The metal portion of the leather lanyard is responsible for most of the scratches on the smooth surface near the microphone. The phone cannot be charged through USB 🙁

I have already highlighted these issues to Customer Care, but the only thing they come back with is to visit a Nokia Care Center. And I haven’t quite had the time to do. However, when  I do, I will update this post against each point. I also came up with a list of features that could be developed; check out this post here.

In the past I have used Nokia 3610, then Nokia 6600 for over 4 years. I have always been a strong proponent of Nokia phone, and recommended it to people around me. Despite of the E71 being feature rich, it has a great number of issues with basic functionality. If you know Pareto’s Law, these issues are in the 20% of all applications, which are used 80% of the time. Writing to customer care hardly ever works; all you get is automated replies. I would really like this to be read by someone from Product Management who can really respond to the issues, one-by-one.

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