To check out the phone specs from Straight Talk or to order the phone, click here.
The screen is a 2.36 inch QVGA display, which is a bit on the small side for a smart phone. I found it to be very sharp for both pictures and text.
The phone also incorporates a technology that detects the background light and automatically adjusts the display’s brightness. That being said, I really haven’t noticed much adjustment from this technology, but I also haven’t had any problems with brightness. For those of you comparing it to other Straight Talk phones, the only previous phone with more screen real estate is the Samsung Finesse. The E71 display is just about the same size as that of the Samsung r355c. If you truly want a bigger display, though, I’d suggest the Nokia 6790.
The menu and operating system seem very polished and easy to use. The only negative comment I can offer here is that there are just so many options and capabilities with this phone that it can be hard to remember where everything is. However, once you get this phone you won’t want to put it down, so you’ll quickly develop an understanding of how to navigate through everything.
There are several shortcut keys on the keyboard, which point to the home screen, calendar, and messaging center, and cannot be reassigned to other functions. The keyboard is necessarily small in order to fit on a device of this size. I’ve never used a Blackberry for any extended period of time so I can’t really compare it to that, but I expect that the keys on the E71 are about the same as on a Blackerry. They are larger and more raised than on the Samsung r355c, and give a nice solid “click” when pressed.
Since I was used to the r355c, adjusting to the Nokia actually seemed like I had MORE room to navigate the keyboard. Typing out messages is very easy for me. If you have with larger-than-average hands, though, you might want to take it for a test drive before you buy just to make sure you can get used to the size of the keyboard.
Nokia offers a software suite to facilitate syncing to a computer. I haven’t used this software yet as I’m not sure I’ll be keeping this phone. But coming from Nokia and considering that this phone has a much wider distribution than the typical Straight Talk phone, I think that syncing will be as easy with this phone as any.
One thing that is VERY cool, though is how you can “share” the E71′s 3G data connection via WiFi. I downloaded a free app called JoikuSpot from Nokia’s Novi app store. This app allows me to create a WiFi hotspot, using the 3G data as the source for the connection, and connect other devices like a laptop, iPod or iPad to that hotspot. I haven’t used this extensively, and it seems on the slow side, but for basic things it’s a great way to connect on the go. This app alone makes the phone very appealing!
As always, I haven’t tried connecting to a gps device or navigation system, as I don’t own either. But once again, I would rely on Nokia’s many years of industry experience and say it’s probably safe to say this phone will do everything you want it to.
I’ll soon be back posting with part 3 of the E71 Review, in which I’ll discuss the camera and some of the more advanced features, and in a subsequent post I’ll also address reader questions about this model. I also plan to get some decent pictures of the phone – hopefully I can find my camera! But if you’ve heard enough and want to buy the phone now, click here to find it on Straight Talk’s website.
Note: I have a material relationship with one or more of the brands mentioned in this post.