IT Pro Verdict
A few fiddly aspects aside, the Nokia E7 is a lovely piece of hardware, but the Symbian^3 operating system is just out of its depth when compared to the competition — and the fact that Nokia has also lost faith in Symbian is hardly encouraging either. So, unless the operating system is inexplicably a must-have for operational purposes, either the Android-powered HTC Desire Z or the Windows Phone 7 Dell Venue Pro are far superior hardware keyboard-equipped alternatives.
The Nokia E7
The Nokia E7's screen slides up to reveal the keyboard
The Nokia E7's micro HDMI port is hidden behind a protective flap
The Nokia E7's eight-megapixel camera might sound great, but the results aren't worth emailing home about
Nokia has been having a bit of a hard time of late. The Finnish mobile phone giant recently ditched the ailing Symbian as its mobile operating system of choice (in favour of Windows Phone 7) and then announced 7,000 job losses in April as part of a 1 billion cost-cutting measure. So, with the future of both the company and Symbian still uncertain, now might not seem like an ideal time to invest in a new Symbian smartphone from Nokia, which is unfortunate, as that's just what the E7 is.
To Nokia's credit, the E7 is an extremely stylish smartphone. It has a sleek, all-aluminium shell with rounded edges and neatly capped-off ends, along with a 4in screen that fills the entire front of the handset. It sits nicely in the hand too, although the finish does make it rather slippy. At 176g, it isn't too heavy to tote around in a jacket pocket.
All-screen it may be, but the E7 also packs a physical Qwerty keyboard although it takes a short while to figure where this lurks. As with similar smartphones from other manufacturers, the keyboard is actually hidden beneath the screen, but the two halves of the case fit together so snugly that it isn't immediately obvious how to get at it.
Flipping up the E7's screen to reveal the keyboard is a Herculean task.
Unfortunately, even when armed with the requisite knowledge, getting the case to open still isn't easy. The E7's smooth, rounded edges don't give much purchase for a finger and it takes two hands and two thumbs to push the screen out of the way. With a firm shove though, the screen slides up (in landscape orientation) to sit at a 30-degree tilt that's ideal for use while typing.