I have been using Sony Ericsson mobile phones since 2001 (with the T68) because mainly of its unbelievably list of features and its “open-source” data format. I could transfer contacts, notes, multimedia files via IR and Bluetooth to PC without any proprietory software. This is important for me so that all information can be easily backed up without depending on any proprietory applications to view them. Even till now, most other phone manufacturers have this limitation, and is very very annoying.
And so for years I have been hanging on to SE phones, no doubt not running the most efficient interface in the market. Till now, I still love the Symbian UIQ touchscreen interface but hated the lag.
Then a fortnight ago, my colleague showed me the Nokia E71 during lunch. I was wholeheartedly impressed with the speed of interface, the seamless connectivity to the online world, and the capability of what it can achieve. It reminded me of how Sony Ericsson won my heart with their mobile innovation.
And so, here in my hands is my very own Nokia E71.
Instead of lauding how good the device is, let me list down what I could achieve with the Nokia E71 that I could not on my current Sony Ericsson G900:
1. The entire interface is faster. There are some apps that take a little more time to load, but that’s the exception rather than the norm.
2. A faster interface means everything. Scrolling data, moving from page to page, app to app.
3. The speed of logging onto the Internet using E71 is so fast, it felt as if the phone is always connected. Simply put, it’s no longer a pain to access the Internet when I need to.
4. There are more installable applications due to the popularity. For instance, there is no Yahoo Go app for UIQ3 after so many years..
5. With app like Nimbuzz, I made my first ever overseas VoIP call on a mobile handset. And I did that with zero fuss.
6. The device has almost everything that a converged device would need: a QWERTY keyboard, IR, bluetooth, WiFi, A-GPS, VoIP, music player, photo viewer, Flash player, Realplayer, Internet browser, instant messenging, MS Office viewer, PDF viewer, Zip compression app, Microsoft Exchange to sync with office Outlook emails, expandable memory, camera (3.2mp), video calls, HSDA (3.6Mbps).
7. The phone has a landscape screen orientation which is easier to view information than the traditional portrait mode.
8. It keeps a log of all activities you did on your phone for up to 30 days.
9. The raised keyboard is easy to feel and press the right keys.
10. The keyboard supports simultaneous key-presses. I can hold the shift key to get caps, and when I release, I get normal letters.
While Sony Ericsson still maintains its advantage of “open-source”, this advantage is no longer critical, because of the ease of synchronising my calendar, tasks, contacts to my remote Exchange server. And the supposedly ease-of-use with the Symbian UIQ touch-screen is negated by the intuitive navigation method on the Symbian S60.
The question is: did I wait too long to convert to Nokia? Probably not. Because I find that the selling point of E71 lies entirely with its ease of connection and content creation (using QWERTY) to the Internet. Until a month ago, my only data activity on my phone was to check my Gmail. With the popularity of social networking plus the competition from wireless broadband operators, the E71 is an enabler to the world of Internet content at a fixed access price. Sadly, the UIQ interface has been largely unchanged since the P910 in 2004 and has been bogged by memory and processor speed issues (the G900 seems to have fixed the stability issues as I personally experienced 30-day uptime without having to restart). And since 2004, many many manufacturers have progressed tremendously in their hardware and software development, particularly touchscreen interfaces.
Using the E71 is very liberating, and has truly opened up a new world for me to access and interact – on the move.