Review: Nokia E61i

19. June 2008 at 11:50

The Nokia E61i was announced in February 2007 at the 3GSM conference in Barcelona besides the the E90 and the E65.

It is an ESeries-device with a full QWERTY-keypad. A few weeks ago I received a trial-device in the color “Mocha” and today I want to share my thoughts and experiences about this device with you in this review.

Sales Package:

The Nokia E61i comes in a blue box which looks like every other E-Series box. On the front you can see a picture of the Nokia E61i and on the backside there are some trademarks and the most important features for a business-user written down in six different languages. On the left side of the box there’s written “Nokia E61i″ in big white letters. On the right side there’s written “Nokia Eseries” in white on a red background.

If you open the box the first thing you will see is the phone itself and a little blue box with the PC Suite-DVD. Under the phone there’s the battery BP-4L with 1500mAh. If you take out the DVD-box you can see the silver mono-headset. Of course the phone isn’t presented as beautiful as an Nseries phone, but because it is an Eseries phone it doesn’t need to – the package needs only to be practical for the user.

The next thing you will see if you take out the first floor is the “get started”-manual and the normal manual. The manual has about 120 pages. Besides the manuals there is the charger and of course the USB-cable to connect your E61i to your computer.

Overview of the package contents:

  • Nokia E61i
  • Battery BP-4L with 1500mAh
  • Charger AC-4
  • Mono-Headset HS-5 (silver)
  • Connectivity Cable CA-53
  • DVD
  • “Get started”-manual
  • Manual

Build Quality:

The E61i has a perfect build quality. Nothing is shaking and all corners are rounded. The only bad point here is that the battery-cover has, if you take it off, sharp edges on the inside – maybe Nokia should fix this in the successor-device.

The phone feels like made out of one peace and you can’t notice any transitions.

The gaps between the phones’ components are small and no one of them looks bad.

Keys:

On the whole phone you can find 57 keys. The most of them (to be exactly 40) are part of the full QWERTY-keypad.

On the left side of the device there are 3 keys:

  • Voice recorder/voice recognition key
  • Volume up
  • Volume down

On the right side above the display there is the typical power button, it has 6 functions:

  1. Turning on the device
  2. Switching of the device
  3. Choosing a profile (e.g. Meeting)
  4. Lock keypad
  5. Lock phone
  6. Remove memory card

The numeric keypad with the number 0 to 9 and the # and *-keys are part of the QWERTY-keypad.

The keys right under the display are very small like every keys of the phone. The right and left softkeys, together with the call- and end-key are the biggest ones on the whole phone. The application-quick-launch keys are between the soft- and phoning-keys. In the middle there is a very small navigation-key – it is some kind of oblong – in the beginnings you will need time to get used to this small, oblong navigation-key, but if you use it for some time you will get used to it.

The three keys on the left side of the device are made out of white plastic. The volume up and volume down keys are good to use, but the voice-recognition key isn’t that good – it is build to deep into the device so you can’t press it good.

The E61i has a full QWERTY-keypad, this is especially good for typing in messages and e-mails. The keys of the QWERTY-keypad are to small and hard to press – after some time you will get used to it, but the problem that the keys are to small won’t change.

The lighting of the whole keypad is made out of different colors which looks very good. You can read all of the keys very good in dark places.

The biggest problem of the whole keypad is that the keys are that small so you can’t press them good with fat fingers. That’s definetely a problem Nokia should fix.

Size:

The official weight of the E65 is 150g. Sounds much, but if you have ever used the device you can see that it doesn’t feel very heavy. The weight sounds not as good as it is. The size is 117 x 70 x 13.9 (/11.5) mm, as you can see the device is very slim but the main problem here is that the device is so wide. The weight is great – just bear in mind the top quality chromed front and back of the E61i – this front and back has its weight. And believe me, if you use the E61i you will not notice the weight of 150g.

Multimedia:

The E61i isn’t a multimedia-device, but you can also play music and videos with it, just like in every other S60 device.

For many videos and much music you need to have much storage. The E65 features a built-in memory of 60MB which is expandable with microSD memory-cards. This means you can upgrade your storage up to 2GB. I think this is enough for business-users. Unfortunately there’s no memory-card included in the sales package, which very disappoints me.

A camera for snapshots – today almost every mobile phone features one. The E61i also has a camera: It is a 2 megapixel camera (1600 x 1200 pixels). The camera is conceived for snapshots, that means it doesn’t have Carl Zeiss optics or even a autofocus. A thing that isn’t good – even for a snapshot-conceived camera – is the missing flash. There is no kind of flash and so you can’t take pictures in the dark. The only thing you can do if you want to take a picture in bad light-conditions is to activate the night mode. The camera has no mode for close-up shots, thus you can’t make photos of any documents or something – very disappointing for a business-user, bear in mind: The E61i is made for business users.

The images you can capture with this 2 megapixel snapshot-camera are okay for the phones’ display, but if you want to make more with the camera you should buy a stand-alone digital camera or think about buying the E90 which makes great pictures.

You can also record videos with the phone at a highest resolution of 352 x 288 pixels and 15 frames per second. The videos are okay for YouTube and to watch them on the phones’ display.

Here you can find some sample images and a video I’ve captured with the E61i.

More over with the E61i you can play music. Playing music is something that almost every mobile phones nowadays can do. The E61i features only a mono-headset and a built-in mono-speaker. The headset only has one earphone and a microphone, so that you have one ear free and the other for phoning. The quality of this headset is okay, but nothing special compared to the N95 or another multimedia-phone. The mono-speaker is placed on the left side of the device and if you play music over it, the music sounds good in gentle volume but if you want to listen to loud music over it it isn’t very good. To improve the music quality, you have an equaliser with 6 modes – Default, Bass booster, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Rock.

Business:

Nokia E(nterprise)-Series, that’s the name of the E61i’s “family”. Enterprise means “power” to a business-user. But is the E61i a real business device? I have to say: It definitely is a business device!

The device features five special keys for the business-users among us. The keys are for very quick access to different features that are very important for such a business-user. With those “quick-access-keys” you can enter your contacts, quick-launch the e-mail application, call to somebody fast, access the voice recorder and finally access a application defined by yourself via the own key.

Over the main menu you can enter the office folder which contains all the things for business – calculator, teams, quickoffice, notes, converter, message reader, screen export, printer, clock, adobe PDF and finally the zip manager.

A very great thing is the pre-installed quickoffice-version: It is a version with that you can write word documents and excel sheets. If you think back to other devices, none of them has a version of quickoffice with which you can write something by yourself – you will need to upgrade the version and buy it.

The application “teams” is to create teams of users to work together in a conference. You can e.g. phone all the members or write messages to them. There are many other options – too many to mention them here. The application is very good. Another special application for the business-users is the message reader. As the name says it is a application that reads your messages – I’ve tested it with some of my messages and it works fine. The last application for business-users I want to mention here is the screen export. With this application you can export your phones’ screen to a projector – great for conferences or meetings. Unfortunately I haven’t tested this application because I don’t own an projector.

Display:

The E61i has a display with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels and 16.7 million colors. The display has a screen size of 2,8 inches. It is very sharp and readable in almost every situation. You can read it also in very bright places, e.g. on a sunny day outside. The font is small and made nice, so that you can’t recognize pixels while reading. The symbols in the menu are also looking good.

The display seems to be the same as in the N95 8GB, but it is built in athwart. The display isn’t protected by a plastic in front of it. That means if you touch it, it will change the color like the N95s’ display.

Connectivity:

With the E61i Nokia there are many ways to keep in touch with the world around you. The device features wireless lan, 3G, GPRS, EDGE, IRDA and of course bluetooth. It can also find you where the place is with A-GPS and external bluetooth GPS.

The wi-fi is very fast. In my test the connection via wi-fi worked well without abruptions.

Of course you can surf the web or write e-mails with the E61i. The web-browser is well arranged and setting up your e-mail address is easy.

The speaker of the phone has a high-frequently background-noise while calls, just like the N95.

One thing that disappoints me is that the speaker of the phone isn’t as loud as the ones built-in in the Nseries phones.

The E61i does not have a second camera, that means you can’t make video-calls.

The bluetooth connection is fast. In my test I sent a song with 4.8 MB in 1 minute and 36 seconds to my N95 via bluetooth.

The other, slower method to send files to another mobile phone is the built-in infrared. In the E61i it is placed on the bottom of the device.

Usage:

The device is based on Symbian OS. It runs with S60 3rd Edition (no Feature Pack 1). It is the same operating system like in the most Nokia mobile phones. I can’t say much about the time you need to get used to it because I work with S60 since the N70, but as a new user it is very tricky to find the menu. Many of my friends don’t know how to get into the menu when they first get in touch with a S60 device – most of them press the middle of the navi-key, which is not right. If you want to enter the main menu you will need to press the special, blue “Symbian-key”.

If you use the device a few hours and know which key is for what, I think you will like S60. The menus are arranged very well and a new user should get used to it in about one or two days.

If you don’t like the menu structure you can create new folders, delete some, move applications as you want to or change the menu view from grid to a list. For those people with bad eyes you can also change the size of the phones’ fonts.

With S60 3rd you can install many applications on your phone. In the world wide web there are so many developers for free applications and themes, that you won’t miss anything.

If you don’t know anything you don’t have to take out the manual. In the menu you can find a very useful folder with help. This is just great. Everything about the phone is included and explained with animations very easy.

The device is also good for multitasking. The E61i features a processor with 206 MHz and the free RAM in standby-mode is about 20 – 23 MB, which is good and allows the user to navigate fast through the menus.

Battery life:

Business-users need to have a good battery life. People who travel a lot can’t charge the phones battery every day. The E61i comes with a Nokia BP-4L battery with 1500 mAh. In two weeks of regular usage and testing all functions as a power-user I only needed to charge the phone three times. Very good for a todays’ mobile phone, isn’t it?

Verdict:

The Nokia E61i is a great device for all kind of users. It is super for the business-users among us, but the normal users will also like it. It has a great design – especially the chromed front and the backside made out of aluminium. The size of the phone is okay for such a device with full QWERTY-keypad and the built-quality is great. The screen is sharp and bright.

The feeling of the device is great thanks to it’s nobly materials and all the rounded corners. It features all connectivity-possibilities a business-user will need. With the pre-installed office-applications no man of business is going to be unhappy.

The only bad points about the E61i are the small keys, the background-noise while calls which comes from the display, the missing miniUSB-connection and the missing 3.5 mm headphone-jack.

All in all the device has a great price-performance ratio and if you’re searching for a smart, full QWERTY and good-looking business-phone you can buy the Nokia E61i without a bad conscience.

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