Finland’s Nokia has announced that its E7 business smartphone has begun shipping in selected markets as of today, hopefully giving the company a little shot in the arm as it gears up for a life-or-death battle with the broader mobile phone and smartphone industry. And the E7 is sure pretty so look at, with a 4-inch AMOLED display, full QWERTY keypad, 16 GB of onboard memory, HDMI output, and an 8 megapixel camera capable of capturing high-definition video. But is the E7 enough to capture the attention of the business smartphone market in the face of competition from the likes of HTC, BlackBerry, Motorola, and Apple?
The Nokia E7 builds on the foundation laid by the N8 smartphone, featuring that 4-inch AMOLED display with “ClearBlack” technology that the company says allows for even blacker black fro enhanced media viewing and fewer reflections—the display also tilts for more ergonomic and convenient viewing. The E7 packs 16 GB of onboard memory and is a quad-band GSM/EDGE and WCDMA device, with automatic switching between bands; it also supports HSDPA Cat9 with download speeds theoretically going up to 10.2 Mbps. The phone features both 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless networking, along with an 8 megapixel full-focus camera and the capability to shoot high-definition video: when it comes time to put that video on a big screen, there’s an HDMI output too. (There’s a secondary VGA-resolution camera for video calling.) Being a Nokia device, the e7 also sports an FM receiver, along with USB charging and connectivity, assisted GPS, and the usual spate of smartphone sensors: proximity, an accelerometer, compass, and ambient light sensor. According to Nokia, the phone can manage as much as 9 hours of talk time on GSM networks (5 hours on WCDMA), with standby times between 400 and 500 hours. The phone features a hands-free speakerphone and supports video calling.
The downside of the E7, from many smartphone buyers’ point of view, might be the Symbian^3 operating system. Although Nokia runs its own Ovi App Store (and yes, Angry Birds is available), it does mean that customers will be in neither the Android or iOS camps. For some folks, that may be fine: Symbian offers a full HTML Web browser and a wide variety of Nokia-based services (including Ovi Maps) and social networking clients are available. The phone also appeals to business types with VPN support and the ability to access contacts, mail, calendars and more on Microsoft Exchange servers, along with Microsoft Communicator Mobile instant messaging. (Yes, POP/IMAP mail are supported too.)
Pricing on the Nokia E7 will vary by location and operator subsidies, but it won’t be cheap: Nokia estimates the E7 will retail for around €495. The E7 is available now in “select” markets, with Nokia expected broader availability soon in additional markets. No word on when—or even if—Nokia plans to bring the E7 to North America.