Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nokia E63 Review

In a nutshell: The Nokia E63 is arguably the company's first BlackBerry-beater. With full support for push email, attachment editing and web browsing, an absolutely superb QWERTY keyboard, WLAN and 3G support, it meets the full needs of the business user. The E63 also has a camera, video calling, and a media player. It's missing HSDPA and GPS, but these are really its only faults.
Nokia E63
The Nokia E63 is the little brother of the E71 business smartphone. We liked Nokia's E71 BlackBerry-buster a lot, awarding it 5 stars and concluding that it was better built than the BlackBerry Bold, had great applications, connectivity and battery life but was beaten by the Bold on the size of the display, memory and ease-of-use. Can the E63 address any of these issues without compromising anything important?

Well, although we described the E63 as the E71's little brother, it's actually a larger phone. In particular it's 13mm thick instead of 10mm. It's not any heavier though, as the E63 and the E71 use the same battery type. One physical improvement is the keyboard. We find the E63's keyboard even easier to use, thanks to subtle modifications in the shape and size of keys. The display is exactly the same as on the E71 - a 2.36 inch QVGA with 16 million colours.

Inside, the E63 is very similar to the E71, so read our E71 review for a more detailed description. Both phones are Symbian 9.2 SmartPhones running the Series 60 3.1 user interface. There's a wealth of applications available and the operating system seems to be mature and pretty much bug-free. Some things have been removed from the E71: HSDPA has gone, but it's still a 3G phone. GPS has gone too. The camera has been reduced from 3.2 megapixels with autofocus to 2 megapixels with fixed focus.

One improvement is the addition of a 3.5mm headphone jack. Hurrah! Now we can plug in any headphone we like, or plug it into the car stereo. A Nokia stereo headset WH-102 is supplied too.

Although the E63 isn't quite as capable as the E71, it's still a superb all-round phone. Whether you choose the E63 or E71, you'll find that accessing email, sending texts and viewing web pages is very easy indeed. This is thanks to the full QWERTY keyboard, large screen and excellent internet support.

It's not really fair to compare the E63 to the BlackBerry Bold. A better comparison would be with the BlackBerry 8900. Now the Nokia has a real chance of coming out on top. First, the keyboard is just as good as the BlackBerry's and the Nokia's Navi™Key works a heck of a lot better than Blackberry's trackball. BlackBerry wins when it comes to the screen, and the two devices draw when it comes to email and web software. The E63 has 3G, whereas the BlackBerry 8900 has to rely on EDGE, but the BlackBerry has a better camera. We think that on balance we actually prefer the Nokia. For its core business functions, the E63 excels.

The fact is that we're becoming spoiled for choice when it comes to business phones that offer QWERTY keyboards and mobile internet, but which don't compromise on other features, usability or even size. The bottom line is that the Nokia E63 is an outstanding phone, and offers a less expensive option for those not wanting GPS or a top-notch camera in their phone. In fact, if you don't need these, we'd recommend the E63 because of its outstandingly good keyboard.

Update, September 2010: The Nokia E63 is disappearing from the shops now, but a lifetime of 18 months has proved its popularity. We originally awarded the E63 5 stars, but have downgraded it to 4 stars now to reflect the fact that newer phones have appeared with better features. Still, we just love that keyboard!


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