How do you solve a problem like Nokia's? Well, apparently, you just stick to it as long as you can instead of bailing out moving on ASAP. Not that we blame them--Symbian is their baby--but what surprises us is that they're still investing a lot on phones such as the Nokia E7 despite the OS's days being numbered.
Let's start the review on a good note: the Nokia E7 is perhaps the most solidly-built smartphone the Finns have ever made. It's large, it's hefty, and it kind of resembles the BioDragon from the '80's Sentai series Bioman. The 4-inch screen takes almost the entire space of the top half, while the tilt-out QWERTY keypad dominates the bottom.
Speaking of the which, the keyboard is actually our only gripe with the E7 (physically, that is) as it's not exactly easy to slide out. Unlike with the N97 mini's keypad wherein a simple push on the edge of the screen would suffice, the E7 requires a slight downward push first before you can unearth the QWERTY keys.
Also worthy of note is the phone's back plate which, doesn't come off. The battery, in Nokia's own words is "embedded", while the SIM is inserted via a small slide-out tray at the right of the unit. As for the MicroSD card, er, well, the E7 doesn't have a card slot so you'll have to make do with the 16GB of internal memory.
Now we come to the touchy part, the operating system. Note that this phone is basically the N8 with a keyboard, which means the user interface is pretty much the same. Dated looks aside, we feel that the 680MHz processor is just not zippy enough to let us get the definitive Symbian^3 experience.
Case in point, the home button. One would assume that upon pressing it, you will instantly be brought back to the home screen. And it does, but not without making you wait for about half a second. The same, too, goes with the camera. Despite the dedicated button, it takes about 2 seconds for the camera to boot up which means you could potentially miss many-a Kodak moment.
Oh cam on!
Having mentioned the camera, we should point out that we're very disappointed with the E7's snapper. It's an 8-megapixel cam with a fixed focus lens! It's especially weird as image quality is not that good as well. We weren't expecting digicam quality photos, but we did expect pics that could at least rival those take on the iPhone 4. This is a P32,000 phone after all.
If the Nokia E7 has one redeeming factor, it's that it's great for browsing. The combination of the large multitouch screen and the spacious QWERTY keyboard makes for an experience not even the iPhone could match. Why? Simply because the experience comes very close to being laptop-like. Nearly 100% of the time, the screen is reserved for only the webpage--no messy virtual keyboards and such.
Be warned, though, as heavy Internet use will make your phone thirst for juice in less than a day. For normal use, expect it to last a day and a half and 2 days if you're really stingy on calls.
So, it this business-centric smartphone the one you've been waiting for? It could be. But we'll be honest when we say that its strong points are not uniquely its own. Its so-called fortes can also be found in other similarly-priced handsets such as the HTC Desire Z and perhaps the BlackBerry Torch.
If you're a die-hard Nokia-fanatic however and you feel comfortable with the OS, then by all means, go for the E7. If you're prepared to jump off the platform however, check out the others.