Hardware

Exchange and Outlook users may want to skip the Nokia E71

The unlocked Nokia E71 is a sleek, stylish smartphone with business-class features. But, the E71's steep price tag and seriously limited support for Microsoft Exchange are two strikes against it.

The unlocked Nokia E71 is a sleek, stylish smartphone with business-class features. But, the E71's steep price tag and seriously limited support for Microsoft Exchange are two strikes against it. I reviewed the E71 for TechRepublic's Product Spotlight series.

Here are some of the E71's standout features and problems I wrote about in the review:

Standout features:

  • Size - Unlike the bulky AT&T Tilt, the Nokia E71 feels right at home in a coat or pants pocket. So long phone holster.
  • Stylish design - Despite being a magnet for fingerprints and smudges, the E71's metal exterior gives the device a sleek, sophisticated look. The E71 is a big improvement over the E61i.
  • QWERTY keyboard - Despite the recent improvement in touchscreen keyboards, I still prefer physical keys for heavy e-mailing and text messaging. The E71's keyboard is slightly smaller than other Nokia Eseries phones (like the E61i and new E63), but I still found it easy to use - even with my large fingers.

Problems:

  • No support for Exchange folders - To synchronize the E71, and other S60 devices, with Microsoft Exchange, Nokia uses a custom application called Mail for Exchange. This application synchronizes your Exchange inbox, calendar, and contacts with the phone. Unfortunately, and somewhat astonishingly, Mail for Exchange only synchronizes the top-level inbox folder. It provides no support for subfolders within the inbox. Most Exchange/Outlook users, that I know, have dozens of inbox subfolders. I have over 50 folders, in to which I sort my mail through a series of rules. I really like the E71 but this failure makes the device a nonstarter for me.
  • Non-standard headphone jack - The E71 uses a 2.5mm headphone jack. This may be standard on phones, but most headphones designed for portable audio require a 3.5mm jack. This limits the E71's usefulness as a multimedia device. Nokia seems to have acknowledged this shortcoming and added a 3.5mm audio jack to the more consumer-oriented E63.
  • Expensive - As of this writing, Nokia sold the unlocked E71 for $359 (US) on their site. Other retailers, like Best Buy, Amazon, and CompUSA offer the E71 for between $300 and $450. No US carriers offer the phone, but at CTIA 2009, AT&T announced that they would carry Nokia's new E71x, which is basically the E71 locked to AT&T's network and with a few additional AT&T-specific services. AT&T sells the E71x for $99 with a two-year contract and mail-in rebate.

For a closer look check out the TechRepublic Nokia E71 Photo Gallery.

About Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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