- Keyboard, 2 megapixel camera, Design, Controls, Features and Connectivity, VoIP, Battery life
- No HSDPA support
The E61i is a minor and mostly cosmetic upgrade to the E61, but it remains a fantastic smart phone overall.
Price$ 789.00 (AUD)
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Nokia has upgraded its flagship E-Series product, adding a digital camera and a number of cosmetic improvements to an already outstanding communications device. The E61i isn't a groundbreaking improvement over the previous E61 but a full QWERTY keyboard, large display, push email support, native Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the ability to make VoIP calls ensure it still remains an outstanding choice.
The E61i is a 3G capable smart phone, but we were surprised not to see HSDPA support. Regardless, we were impressed with call quality. Volume levels are more than adequate, even in noisy environments and the hands-free speakerphone also works well. The E61i supports conference calling with up to six people, as well as push to talk, voice dialling and speed dialling.
Like its predecessor, the E61i has plenty of features, headed by its push email capabilities. Push email is a service that retrieves emails from your account and forwards them directly to your mobile device. The E61i supports POP3, IMAP and SMTP protocols as well as third party email clients including Visto, BlackBerry Connect, GoodLink and Seven Always-On Mail. When located near a wireless network, the E61i can use native Wi-Fi to retrieve your email, but when you're on the road it uses GPRS, meaning you will be charged standard service provider fees which can be quite expensive. We tested the unit's email application with a standard POP3 Yahoo! account and it worked fairly well. It allows you to retrieve new emails or your entire inbox and can also view, save and even edit your attachments using the phone's memory; either the 60MB of internal memory or the SD card. Unfortunately, Nokia doesn't include an SD card in the sales package. The E61i supports a range of attachment file formats including JPEG, 3GP, MP3, PPT, DOC, XLS, and PDF files.
The E61i also comes with a SIP client, so it is able to handle VoIP calls through PBXs that have SIP servers. This is strictly for corporate users though, as regular VoIP services such as Skype are not compatible with SIP. We particularly liked the fact that Internet calls appear in the call log menu (marked with a distinctive Internet icon) along with regular mobile calls. The E61i can also hook up to compatible Wi-Fi based PBX systems and act as a normal office extension. It supports the same features as your regular office phone when doing so, such as call transfer and four digit dialling.
Connectivity is a strong point with Bluetooth 1.2, infrared, USB, WAP 2.0, wireless LAN and GPRS all present. We had no problems connecting to our wireless network and were up and running in a matter of minutes. The E61i can search for wireless access points every one, five or 10 minutes and you simply select the network you want from the list. Nokia includes a USB cable in the sales package for connection to a PC and users are able to synchronise emails with Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes. Unfortunately, the included PC Suite software is not compatible with a Mac.
The E61i runs on the Symbian v9.1 OS, so its equipped with a full array of smart phone applications, including QuickOffice Word, PowerPoint and Excel document viewers, a host of PIM features (calendar, contacts, to-do list, task list, alarm clock, notes, converter, calculator) as well as voice recording and voice dialling. The handset is also fully compatible with Zip Manager and Adobe Reader. We were pleased with the speed of the E61i interface, although its start-up time is a little slow at about 70 seconds.
One new addition to the E61i is a 2 megapixel camera, which comes as somewhat of a surprise considering the E61i's position as a business device. Its performance is average for a camera phone, and a lack of flash means night time photography is out of the question. The camera captures images at up to 1600x1200 pixels, and also includes a video recorder with resolutions of up to 352x288.
The best feature of the E61i is its keyboard. Although it is a full sized QWERTY keyboard, the keys themselves are big enough and fairly well separated to ensure that even those with less dexterous fingers will be able to type comfortably. Further, each key has a soft rubberised feel and is very easy to press.
Measuring 117mm x 70mm x 13.9mm and weighing 150g, the E61i remains a manageable size. It has received a slight facelift to reflect the same design as the stylish E65; a chocolate brown and silver design, with chrome highlights. A small light on the front left side of the unit flashes when you receive an incoming message, email or call. On the left hand side of the phone is a volume control and dedicated record button, which can be used for both voice recording and voice dialling. The right side of the E61i is free of any buttons, although sliding off the back cover reveals an SD card slot, which would have been better positioned somewhere other than under the battery cover. Unfortunately, the E61i charges and synchronises via pop-port, rather than a standard mini-USB connection.
The other big change from the previous model is in the controls. Gone is the five-way navigational joystick; instead it's been replaced by a more thumb-friendly five-way navigational pad. This makes using the phone a breeze, and navigating around the interface is a hassle free process. Surrounding the navigational pad are dedicated buttons for phonebook, menu, email and a customisable button, while two selection buttons and answer/end call keys are also close by.
The E61i is equipped with a generously sized display that is capable of producing 16 million colours at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. It has an excellent viewing angle, is clearly visible in direct sunlight and includes an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight and keyboard lighting to suit your surroundings.
According to Nokia, the E61i offers up to 9 hours of talk time and up to 17 days standby time. We were pleased to report that these figures were very close to the mark. We found the unit needed charging every three to four days on average.
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