I'm Jonathan Bullock; creator of JBake and Twitile, developer with a passion for the Internet, geek, gadget lover and fan of far too many sports. I occasionally give talks, take some photos and tweet every now and then.
31 December 2008
First off it looks gorgeous (the black version anyway, the white version looks a bit cheap to me) and feels great in your hand, it has a good solid feel to it.
I'm sad to say this but it really shows how bad the Nokia N95 was when it comes to looks. Although updating the look & feel of the Nseries seems to be Nokia's goal at the moment, the N96 & N85 both sport the same similar design.
It's a decent weight (not to heavy) and has a great texture to the back of it that improves your grip. The QWERTY keyboard looks very small at first but each key has a slightly raised curve to it that makes it surprisingly easy to use.
The themes/icons provided are pretty bad really, the first thing you should do is install the Eseries E71 theme - it's the default Eseries theme with the Flahorn Icon Pack included (icons based on those available in S60v3). I know the Eseries is targeted at business users but they can appreciate eye candy too! The default icon pack is bloody awful if you ask me!
The on board GPS locks on a heck of a lot quicker than my old N95 used, I double checked this against a co-wokers N95 too. The E71 seems to leave the GPS device on after it's first locked on to reduce the time it takes to lock on in future.
The battery life is absolutely excellent. My E71 is typically used for calls/texts, browsing at home using wifi, e-mail using Nokia's push beta service and occasionally as a data modem for my laptop and it usually lasts 4-5 days without needing a charge. I tend not to use the 3G network as the coverage can be hit and miss up here in North Wales, but it's not a huge drain on the battery life. If what I said about the GPS is correct I assume this is a benefit of the excellent battery the E71 has.
Camera quality is awful. I really hope they improve the quality with a firmware update as it's pretty much unusable as it is. The poor quality was mentioned in a few reviews I read prior to ordering the phone but I didn't expect it to be as bad as it is, when they said purple they really meant it! While it's a decent 3.2MP camera the quality is actually worse than my old SE W810i 2MP which is nearly 3 years old now!
Signal strenth is OK but not as good as the N95 when coverage is poor. I've only noticed this as in work coverage is not the best, where as the N95 would have at least 2 bars of signal my E71 struggles to access the network.
The UI is snappy as you'd expect it to be, however it is an improvement when compared to the UI on the N95 but then the N95 UI was pretty slow even with the latest firmware update. Strange considering both the N95 & E71 run the same version of Symbian OS (v9.2) & S60 (FP1)?
The quality of the camera and UI speed on the N95 was significantly improved with firmware updates however I had to change the product code to be able to get at those firmware updates from Nokia. My E71 is running firmware 100.07.76 and while there is an update available it's not yet available to Vodafone UK users. I'll probably resort to changing the product code on this device too to benefit from the newer updates rather than wait for Vodafone to get round to releasing it! Having said that the initial firmware supplied with the phone has proven to be quite stable, I haven't come across any major bugs in it myself so far.
Looking around the Internet the Nokia E71 seems to have had a pretty good year: