capsule review

Nokia E70

At a Glance
  • Nokia E70 Cell Phone (GSM, Bluetooth, 2MP, 64MB,

At first glance the Nokia E70 doesn't look like a PDA phone at all: It's an unassuming candy bar-style handset, with a smallish 2.1-inch screen and a tiny numeric keypad. But flip the keypad up, and the E70 reveals its charms-namely, a unique and very roomy QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is split in two, half of it on the right of the screen and half on the left. When the unit is open, the screen automatically changes orientation from vertical to horizontal.

When closed, the E70 is about the size of an average cell phone-measuring 2.1 by 0.9 by 4.6 inches (width by depth by height)-but slightly heavier, at 4.6 ounces. Its shape is somewhat ungainly, though, because a large hinge included for opening and closing the keyboard makes holding the phone next to your ear somewhat uncomfortable. Overall, audio quality is about average, and dialing with the miniature buttons on the keypad can be tricky. Talk-time battery life in our tests was quite impressive, at 9 hours, 52 minutes.

The Symbian-based E70 is more than just a cell phone, though. Thanks to its spacious keyboard (one of the few that actually approaches the layout of a regular computer keyboard, complete with numbers and symbols that for the most part appear where you expect them), you'll be delving into its substantial data features within minutes. The handset offers standard e-mail support, a full collection of Symbian's office-document viewers and editors, and a full-fledged organizer. Web browsing (via GPRS/EDGE or Wi-Fi) also works well.

The phone has a full complement of entertainment features. The included MP3 player works perfectly well, but the built-in camera is the real standout. With 2 megapixels of resolution, it produced images that were easily the best in this roundup. You can store the ones you like on miniSD media (not included).

Unfortunately, the Symbian OS isn't up for all the things this phone wants to do. Screen refreshes took ages, and switching applications caused havoc; music stuttered badly when I tried to switch to the e-mail app, for example. I found Symbian nonintuitive and too labor-intensive-basic actions require a multitude of scrolls and button presses, often sending you to the manual for advanced tweaking. The E70 lacks a dedicated volume control, too, which will be especially problematic if you ever want to play music while doing something else. Even worse: The unit has no HSDPA 3G support, a failing common to all Nokia PDA phones.

The E70 doesn't come cheap: An unlocked handset costs $450. The phone is compatible with Cingular and T-Mobile networks, but neither carrier offers it yet. Consequently you won't get the benefit of a carrier-subsidized price, and to use the phone you'll have to purchase your own SIM (the card that permits transmission of voice and data).

Christopher Null

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At a Glance
  • The Nokia E70 offers a unique keyboard for easy typing and an excellent camera, but it comes at a steep price.


    • Includes a large QWERTY keyboard
    • Talk-time battery life is impressive


    • Symbian OS can be difficult to use
    • Phone is expensive
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