S60 3rd & 5th Edition

Symbian ^3 Section: Introduction/Reviews of Symbian ^3 smartphones
  S60 Section
Home / Latest News
S60 Software Catalog
Software Store
S60 Downloads
FAQ & Tips
Smartphone Gallery
Communicator Gallery
S60 Discussion Forum
  Nokia E7 in short
- Symbian ^3
- 680 MHz ARM1176
- Broadcom VideoCore III GPU
- 256 MB RAM, 140 MB free
- 1 GB NAND for virtual memory
- Capacitive, multitouch
- 4" ClearBlack display
- nHD (360x640) screen
- 8 Megapixel EDOF camera
- HD 720p video recording
- full QWERTY keyboard
- Bluetooth 3.0
- HSDPA 10 Mpbs
- HSUPA 2 Mbps
- WLAN b/g/n
- Assisted GPS
- USB On-The-Go
- 16 GB storage memory
- no memory card slot
- HDMI mini connector
- metal case, glass screen
- Power Saving Mode
- built-in 1200mAh battery

Was this review helpful?
Encourage further reviews!

Nokia E7 preview
Michal Jerz, January 23rd, 2011

Page 1 | Page 2

This preview is just an introduction to an upcoming full review. In this article I would like to express a general and introductory opinion about the look & feel, build quality, most important differences compared to other popular models (first of all the twin Nokia N8) and some initial "hands-on" impressions, and detailed review describing all functions and features and proper performance and functionality tests will be published within the next couple of weeks, based on a commercial sample.

The first thing you notice right after taking the E7 out of its box, while the keyboard is still closed, is its huge resemblance to the N8. They're really twin phones sharing the same design and the same exceptional build quality, including anodized aluminium casing and all-glass display. The biggest difference in my case was definitely... the colour of the casing (my N8 is black and the E7 was light-blue / cyan). Then you realize that the E7 is also slightly bigger, but it becomes noticeable only after you place the E7 next to the N8, which means that the difference is small enough not to be that apparent without a direct comparison.

And such slightly bigger dimensions are actually a POSITIVE thing in this case, because they result directly from a considerably LARGER DISPLAY of the E7, and not from just the casing being bigger, so it is fully justified. The Nokia N8 has a 3.5" screen, while the display of the E7 is 4" diagonally. Approximate physical dimensions are 76x43 mm in case of the N8 and 88x50 mm on the E7. So you get quite a larger screen, although still with the same nHD (640x360 pixels) resolution. And even though the resolution hasn't changed, that additional half an inch of diagonal really makes a difference and provides much higher comfort of reading and editing documents, browsing the web, watching movies or playing games, as well as using the on-screen virtual keyboard (as the keys are larger, too), but of course on the E7 you also get an OUTSTANDING hardware QWERTY keyboard, so you'll probably want to use that one in most cases, at least in the landscape mode.

Well, of course it doesn't mean that I'd mind if the larger screen size came ALONG with higher resolution. It would surely boost the usability and comfort even further, allowing more content on the screen and providing higher 'smoothness' by increasing pixel density. In high end smartphones based on other platforms WVGA and FWVGA resolutions already became a standard, so I guess it's the high time for Symbian to switch to higher resolutions, too. But I must say that the E7 manages to provide acceptable functionality and user experience also with its nHD resolution, so while one can't say that the E7 excels in this area, it does not disappoint too much, either. It actually depends on what kind of device you will be upgrading from: users of the Nokia N900 or the E90 Communicator (both equipped with 800 pixel wide screens) may require some time to get used to such a slightly lower resolution display, while users upgrading from S60 5th Edition (Symbian ^1) smartphones (like e.g. the N97 or C6-00) won't actually notice any difference as the resolution of the E7 is simply the same...

What you will instantly notice, however, is the FANTASTIC QUALITY of E7's display, which in this regard surely belongs to the best screens on the market. I'm talking about great colours and contrast, as well as really excellent readability, both in artificial lighting and direct sunlight, handled really well by the AMOLED and ClearBlack technologies, in 16,7 million colours. Well, just to be precise, it's the middle of winter so the sun does not shine as strongly as on a typical summer afternoon, but seeing how well the screen performed during that winter sunny day, I think it is safe to assume that also in summer it will be performing really excellent. I only wish the display wasn't such a fingerprint magnet, which it is.

Before we move forward to other features, it is also important to mention that it is of course a capacitive screen with multitouch support, and with a truly perfect sensitivity and precision. There really isn't much to talk about here: everything is just like you'd suppose it to be, and not worse than in the best competing products. It didn't happen even once that I had to tap something multiple times, or that some other area or UI element than intended was recognized as 'tapped'. And also the multitouch gestures, like pinch-to-zoom, worked smoothly and precisely, and the only problem is that still not all applications support it (more about this later). The display is made of hard glass, it is scratch resistant and really feels 'expensive' and sturdy. Of course, when saying "scratch resistant" I cannot guarantee after such a short period of time how things will look after several months of use, but as it is the same kind of screen as in the N8 which after half a year is still to have even just a single tiny scratch on it, I think it is not an exaggeration to assume that it will look the same with the E7 unless you treat it really harsh. Oh, and the sensitivity of the screen is fully consistent, i.e. the same accross its entire area, including edges and corners.

I focused on the screen while I was actually talking about dimensions, so let's get back to it for a short while. I mentioned that the E7 is slightly larger than the N8 (123.7 x 62.4 mm compared to 113.5 x 59 mm) but it actually DOES NOT APPLY to its THICKNESS. Nokia says that the thickness of the E7 is 13.6 mm, which compared to the N8 (12.9 mm) means a difference of just.... 0.7 mm. And that with the full hardware QWERTY keyboard, which the N8 does not have! Being not much more than half a milimetre thicker while including such a large and comfortable hardware keyboard is truly an achievement worth a huge praise. But I'd risk going even further and saying that the E7 actually... isn't thicker than the N8 *at all*, as the N8 has a protruding camera adding some 2 mm (at least in the upper part of the casing) while in case of the E7 the camera is entirely flat, with absolutely no protruding elements. And if you take it into consideration, it turns out that thickness of both the N8 and the E7 is actually... identical. To recap, if you're thinking about getting the E7, thickness surely ISN'T something you should be concerned about and unlike in case of other business-oriented devices the size in general is not a problem. It's really great how Nokia managed to pack a fully functional hardware keyboard into the E7 without making the phone any larger or thicker. Of course, some weight increase (compared to the N8) had to take place (the E7 weighs 41 g more than the N8, i.e. 176 g vs. 135 g) but one can't expect the considerably larger display and hardware keyboard not to weigh anything...

Now about the keyboard itself. It is.... LARGE. It's not one of those keyboards where persons with fat fingers just can't avoid pressing multiple keys at once as they're packed on an area not much bigger than a matchbox. The E7's keyboard simply has a PROPER size - not too big and not too small. As I mentioned, as my primary smartphone I use the Nokia N900 (Maemo 5) which also has a hardware QWERTY keyboard, so a comparison with the N900 is quite natural for me. And after some consideration I must say that the keyboard of the E7 is BETTER. First of all, it has four rows (compared to just three on the N900) and large spacings between the keys, making it easier to hit the right key and preventing pressing the adjoining ones. When it comes to quality and tactile feedback, both are actually very similar. And both lack a separate row for numbers, requiring the user to press the "Blue arrow" key (or to press and hold the actual key) to get numbers and symbols. As the E7 is sometimes referred to as the Communicator successor and some E90 Communicator owners consider it as a possible upgrade, I guess I should also compare it to the E90 keyboard. Well, in this regard the E90 is still a wholly different league, at least when it comes to size and layout. On the other hand, however, the E7 keyboard's tactile feedback seems to be better than E90's (too?) soft keys. On the E7 the "click" is more clearly perceptible, so you don't have to look at the screen every now and then to make sure that the character you pressed really appeared.

When it comes to the keyboard opening (or actually screen sliding) mechanism, it works perfectly. The spring support is really strong (it is enough to just push the cover and the springs will do the rest) and there is a loud "flop" sound when the screen fully opens. I haven't seen any undesired movements or play when the screen is either open or closed, everything is tight and feels very reliable and durable. The only minus is that this type of mechanism creates some "unused space" around its hinges which often becomes a dust collector, so you should take a look there from time to time and blow out the dust and different scrabs from there. No big deal, just a matter of hygiene, teeth need to be cleaned from time to time, too ;-)

The only thing that I really miss when it comes to the keyboard opening (screen sliding) mechanism is some kind of small grooves working as support for fingers, located where you need to press the cover in order to open it. Not only would they show where to press (it looks that pressing near the edges is easier - requires less force - than pressing in the centre) but first of all they would prevent the thumbs from sliding over the edge of the cover, which is quite thin and streamlined. Be careful when you try to slide the display of the E7 for the first time before you get used to how it works as you may even possibly drop the phone if you don't hold it strong enough. Something should be done about it to make it more comfortable, if not simply safer, and the aforementioned small grooves would definitely help a lot...

Before moving forward to other features, I'd like to add that the keyboard is obviously backlit, and the backlight is sensor controlled so that it is on only when needed and does not consume precious power while ambient lighting is strong enough to use the keyboard without backlight. The angle at which the display stays open is in my opinion optimal, better than in case of devices where the screen opens "flat" like in the N900, at least when it comes to typing on the hardware keyboard while the device is put on a desk or table.

Let's now take a look at the remaining parts of the casing. On the front side, below the screen, just like on the N8 there is just one button - Menu. It works the same way as in all Symbian/S60 phones: press it shortly to switch between the home screen and the menu (and back), press and hold it to open the task manager with a list of all applications working in the background, between which you can switch, or which you can close if no longer needed. When the screen is locked, pressing the Menu button activates the "screen saver" which shows current time and some phone status information like battery or network levels and missed calls/unread messages. The E7 also supports the "Breathing light" function known from other phones - the backlight of the Menu button goes on from time to time to indicate that the device is active, and after receiving a new message or in case of a missed call it blinks more frequently to notify you about it.

On the left hand side of the casing there is just one element - the screen lock slider, and on the right side there's a little bit more: Camera button, Up/down slider (Volume, Zoom), and the SIM card slot (hidden under a protective cover). On the bottom of the device there's just the microphone, and on its top you can find the Nokia AV connector (standard audio jack), the Power On/Off and profile selection button, HDMI-mini connector (hidden under protective cover), and the micro-USB connector which also works as a charger connector. Unlike in the N8 which has both the micro-USB (with USB charging) and the 2 mm charger connectors, the E7 only has micro-USB and the wall charger comes with the micro-USB plug. Obviously, like in case of the N8, the E7 also supports USB charging.

The only side left to describe is back, storing inside (just like on the N8) a non-removable BL-4D 3.7V 1200 mAh battery. I am not a huge fan of built-in batteries and I've had problems with judging this solution also in my Nokia N8 preview, but I must say that on the N8 after nearly 6 months the battery works just great and provides performance better than on any other high-end smartphone I own at the moment, so - at least for now - there's really nothing to complain about. If only also the durability of the battery turns out to be equally impressive and after another 6 months its performace does not start dropping I will have to change my opinion about this solution, especially that in regard to other things it provides unquestionable advantages, like no removable back cover (which on other phones often gets loose and makes problems and annoying sounds), better integrity and tightness of the casing, and so on.

When it comes to how the back side of the E7 looks like, it is almost identical to the N8, and the only exception is the camera, which is entirely flat and has a dual-LED flash instead of the Xenon one of the N8. Besides the camera, the back side also holds the Nokia logo, the loudspeaker, small holes of the additional (noise cancelling) microphone and... that's it.

The camera itself differs from the one of the N8 not just with its look. As everyone surely knows (due to it being probably the best camera currently on the market), the Nokia N8 has a 12 Megapixel Carl Zeiss Tessar camera with full mechanical autofocus and Xenon flash. In case of the E7, which belongs to the business-oriented Eseries range, the camera is less advanced. It offers lower sensor resolution - 8 Megapixels (3264 x 2448) - and, as already mentioned, the flash type is dual-LED. But the most important difference is the type of autofocusing (or actually lack of it) - whereas the N8 has a real, mechanical autofocus mechanism like on digicams, in the E7 it has been replaced by a "fixed-focus" lens and a function called EDOF (Enhanced Depth Of Field) - instead of the automatic focus mechanism the camera has an enhanced depth of field (sharpness) range, from about 50 cm to infinity, and everyting within that range is simply "in-focus" (at least in theory). It's somehow similar to taking pictures with a digicam or dSRL when you set the lens' aperture to a large value (like f/16 or above) providing huge depth of field. In addition to it, the EDOF technology uses sophisticated algorithms to analyse the contents of pictures (contrast, colours) and automatically sharpen parts of the captured scene which seem to be the main object the photographer wanted the camera to "focus" on. This provides some further sharpness to 'accent' the main motif.

This solution (as usual) has both advantages and disadvantages, depending on uses, needs and skills of the user. The biggest advantage (especially in this case) is that the EDOF camera on the E7 is entirely flat without any protruding parts (it can be much smaller due to no autofocus mechanism and much simpler lens construction), and thanks to it the E7 can be conveniently put on a desk or table, which in case of a hardware QWERTY keyboard is simply a must. If Nokia decided to use a camera with real autofocus instead of the EDOF one, they'd probably need to make the whole device considerably thicker to fit the camera inside and still have the back side flat, or else the camera would stick out like on the N8 making it impossible to use the E7 on a flat surface. Another advantage, at least for some users, is that there is no focusing process at all, which means that taking a picture is simple and instantenous - you don't have to wait for the camera to analyse the scene, set the focus by moving the lenses, etc. In case of an EDOF camera it takes a fraction of a second from pressing the button to taking a picture, and the software sharpening process takes place AFTER the picture has been taken, so you don't have to wait for it, either. And that's also why the Camera button does not have two "steps" like in autofocus cameras - there's just one level, which instantly takes a picture. Due to large depth of field, in most cases it is also much easier to take good (i.e. steady) pictures by novice users who usually have problems with properly controlling the autofocus, resulting in unsharp shots (or the sharpness being in a wrong part of the frame). In case of EDOF everything from 50 cm to infinity is simply within the sharpness range, so all you have to do is simply point and shoot, and the only remaining "opportunity" to take an unsharp picture are long exposure times in poor lighting conditions when the camera has to be held still a longer period of time, but that of course isn't in any way EDOF related and applies to all cameras (i.e. the autofocus ones too).

So what are the disadvantages? First of all (just like the name of the EDOF technology suggests) it is LACK of shallow depth of field, i.e. inability to have a shallow sharpness range. Maybe it sounds strange, but such a shallow depth of field is often extremely useful, if not simply indispensable, in case of artistic pictures like e.g. portraits or still art, where sharpness should be limited to the main motif (e.g. model's face) only and the whole rest should be nicely blurred and unsharp. And this is what an EDOF camera will NOT provide you.

Any other limitations? Yes, one more. Due to its construction, the E7's EDOF camera compared to the N8 is not a good choice when it comes to macro photography (pictures of tiny objects magnified to or beyond their real life size). While the camera of the N8 is able to focus on objects just 10 cm away from its lens, the sharpness range of the E7 camera starts at 50 cm, i.e. five times farther. Shortly speaking, in case of the E7 you should forget about macro pictures as that distance is much too big to obtain any decent magnification levels.

Long story short, with the camera of the N8 you can be much more "creative" and take pictures with an artistic spirit, while the E7 (although you can obviously still shoot portraits and such) will restrict the artistic 'expressions' by not providing any control over the depth of field and thus not allowing you to obtain any "bokeh" type effects. On the other hand, the E7's camera will be a great tool for typical "landscape" pictures where depth of field isn't important (or actually it is desirable to get as huge sharpness range as possible, accross the whole frame), and lack of focusing process (setting the sharpness) prior to taking a picture will make photographing simpler and quicker. So the EDOF camera of the E7 seems to be a better choice for novice photographers and for persons who treat the camera in a phone as a TOOL to quickly obtain a high quality image of something, and not for a creative enjoyment, for which the Carl Zeiss Camera of the N8 is a much better choice.

Other than that, you can expect a full range of typical camera features and controls, including auto exposure and exposure compensation, automatic and manual (pre-set) white balance, face detection, fullscreen viewfinder, geotagging, red-eye reduction, self timer and a selection of pre-set scene modes, so there's nothing missing here.

The camera in modern smartphones obviously isn't just for still pictures but also for high quality movie recording. And in this case the camera of the E7 provides the same specifications as the one of the N8. Both phones deliver HD 720p video capture (i.e. 1280x720 pixels) at 25 frames per second and support H.263, H.264/AVC and MPEG-4 codecs/formats. Obviously, just like in case of stills, also movie recording is affected by different camera construction. On the N8, the autofocus automatically follows the main motif while in case of the E7 the EDOF technology causes that the whole frame (from 50 cm to infinity) is simply within the sharpness range. So just like on pictures, on movies recorded with the E7 you will not get any blurred background (or foreground).

When it comes to image quality, I guess it's too early to reliably judge it so I'll keep it for the full review based on tests of a commercial unit. For now I can only say that the camera of the E7 seems to be a bit more noisy in worse lighting conditions (due to a smaller sensor) and also there seems to be a stronger JPEG compression compared to the N8 which is well known from its almost noiseless pictures even in very low light. This actually means that the E7 camera still performs very well, it's just that any other camera compared to the N8 has to give in... On the other hand, both N900 and E90 owners thinking about upgrading to the E7 will greatly benefit from both increased sensor resolution and HD 720p video recording.

Below you can find several sample pictures taken with the E7 for your own judgement and comparison. More images, as well as some HD movie samples, will be included in the final review.

Obviously, both phones also feature a secondary VGA (640x480 pixels, 25 fps) camera on the front side, for video calls.

>>>>>>>>>>> Go to page 2 >>>>>>>>>>>

  Readers' comments for  Nokia E7 Preview

NameComment and rating
  Tom Rees
on 2011-03-29 12:42 CET
Nice preview and I hope you do a full review (I only just found this site, btw, and am thinking of upgrading from my n97 mini). Some questions are: just how bad is the low-light capability of the camera. And is QuickOffice optimised for touch? I have QuickOffice 6 on my n97 and it's clunky, with a lot of screan space wasted, and doing simple things like copy and paste is hard work. [Rate: 8/10]
from SPAIN
on 2011-02-21 18:52 CET
I don't know if it is going to replace my e90 but surely not my n900 :) nice review [Rate: 8/10]
  Brick ONeil
on 2011-02-16 20:51 CET
Ok Michael, you've slightly turned this curmudgeon onto the possibility of saving for this tiny behemoth. As a user of the trusty N9500 still, this device looks to be several steps above and equal to what is out in the market. Since you like the device and software, how bad can it be? [Rate: 9/10]
on 2011-02-12 08:41 CET
Hi ! I want to know if E7 got hanged & can't be switched off also so what to do as the battrey is fixed & can't remove it to restart the cell ! As this happens very rarely but i m using nokia for 5 yrs & it does happen ! Regards. [Rate: 9/10]
on 2011-02-08 18:59 CET
Great preview, Michal as ever! The hiatus (caused by Nokia not having anything worth reviewing for a while) has not dulled your capabilities one whit. One thing I take issue with regards the lack of battery cover, which you excuse by referring to design issues/ thinness (granted) and to retention of build quality over time. I would hasten to point out that phones like the e61/i which were similarly made of aluminium and used same material for their battery doors have NOT displayed this issue and thus prove that Nokia prioritised extreme slimness rather than user flexibility. [Rate: 9/10]
  In the hunt
on 2011-02-02 12:01 CET
Thanks for this excellent write up. I am a little curious for more information to the multimedia functions video and codec support. I have recently seen a video review provided by PhoneArena for an E7 prototype that showed a FM transmitter as included despite reports that it was not be included in the E7. Would you please confirm whether or not this feature was present on the device you reviewed? The E7 is currently the leading candidate to replace my current phone. I am just hoping it gets released before another phone is announced which may sway my decision. [Rate: 8/10]
on 2011-02-02 10:14 CET
My first comment on this site! Great detailed review and I look forward to getting my hands on one and more great Nokia devices in the near future! [Rate: 9/10]
  Vince Pinto
on 2011-02-02 09:45 CET
Thanks for an excellent review. I can't wait to get my E7. [Rate: 9/10]
on 2011-02-02 08:35 CET
Great review. I wouldn't trade my n900 for e7 (mainly because of symbian and the low-resolution screen) but it gives me hope that nokia is still able to produce great devices hardware-wise. put meego/maemo on it and you get a superb device... [Rate: 10/10]
on 2011-02-01 19:41 CET
@ Peter: thanks Peter, I'll check it. I wasn't aware of a multitouch-enabled version being already distributed 'officialy' via the Ovi store. The one on my N8 was downloaded from beta labs. But if indeed there's already a final version at Ovi, I will correct the text to reflect it. [No rate]
on 2011-02-01 19:16 CET
@michal: i'm wondering a little bit, because afair i got my maps-version from standard ovi-store. I thought usually there are no beta-versions... Written on n8 ;-) [No rate]
on 2011-02-01 02:43 CET
another great review michal....i loook forward to seeing the completed one. always good for a drool! i gave a 10 because i know what it will be when it is complete! ;) [Rate: 10/10]
  robert webster
from SPAIN
on 2011-01-31 21:22 CET
Very nice preview [Rate: 8/10]
  Jan W
on 2011-01-31 16:55 CET
Thanks for this preliminary preview. It has already more details than some previews I read in oct. 2010. [No rate]
on 2011-01-31 15:51 CET
@ Peter: the version you mentioned is still a BETA software available from Nokia Beta Labs, and not a production quality version. Final version isn't ready yet so the E7 will most probably ship without pinch-to-zoom in Ovi Maps and it'll be made available as a downloadable update at some later time. I called it a "rumour" because we still don't know when the multitouch-enabled version of Ovi Maps goes out of beta. Maybe in a couple of weeks, but it may also take a month or two.
on 2011-01-31 15:35 CET
The actual version of Ovi Maps (v3.06 10wk 46 b01) for N8 has Pinch-to-zoom included. Also the E7 theme seems to have different icons for some functions than n8 standard theme. [No rate]
on 2011-01-31 08:52 CET
Great product, truly must have. It is going to replace my old E90! [Rate: 9/10]

  Rate and comment   on this article and product!
Please share your opinion about this article and the product it describes with other visitors. Use the selection field below to give the article and/or product a rating that in your opinion reflects its quality and usability.

Rate this product
Your comment
Your Name
Confirmation code
   Enter the code:
Symbian and all Symbian-based marks and logos are trade marks of Symbian Software Limited.
This website is not in any way endorsed or supported by Symbian Software Limited.    (C) 2001 All Rights Reserved