Nokia did its best to avoid CES this year, but we caught it at a small booth at the Digital Experience event. Nothing unreleased was on display, but we did get a chance to play with Nokia’s E7, which is a lot like the N8, but with a nice slide-out, bump-up keyboard. When I reviewed the N8, one of the odd things about it was how much it seemed like it should have a slide-out keyboard. All of the design cues pointed toward one, but it remained a touch-only phone. The E7 is what I wanted the N8 to be (minus a new OS).
Representatives constantly told me that the E7 is only for business and the N8 is only for consumers, but aside from the keyboard, this would work well as a consumer device. It has secure VPN and some other business features, but nothing that would hamper personal use. Both devices run Symbian v3.0, have AMOLED screens, and a smooth brushed metal look. However, the E7’s screen is a bit larger at 4 inches and the device just looks slicker, overall. It also has a better grip to it and feels more solid than the N8. Both have 16GB of internal storage, but the E7 lacks a MicroSD slot for expandable memory. The E7 also lacks an FM Transmitter. The camera’s differ, says a reader of ours. I didn’t get a chance to use the E7 camera, but it is 8MP and has a dual LED flash, while the N8 has a 12MP Carl Zeiss lens with a Xenon flash. There are many more small differences between the two units.
I’d love to see more of this kind of design from Nokia. From a hardware standpoint, this is a fantastic device. I just wish it wasn’t stuck running Symbian v3.0. I look forward to when they unveil their much-needed new MeeGo operating system. Nokia does not yet have a carrier contract to sell the E7 in the United States.
(Update: Made some changes to clarify differences between the N8 and E7.)
Here is a walk-through of the device by a Nokia representative. I apologize for the horrid lack of focus! I had a setting on the camera wrong.