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.