Last year we reviewed the Nokia E71, a phone that came straight outta Finland unlocked, with a powerful array of business and multimedia features. It was balanced, it was beautiful and it worked perfectly. We loved it so much, the handset won our Best of Test award for mobile phones in 2008, even managing to trump the iPhone 3G in the battle for cellular supremacy.
That’s why we were a little dismayed by the E71x. The device is almost identical to the E71: same 3.2-megapixel camera, same .04-inch profile, same vibrant 320 x 240 QVGA display, same business apps and multimedia functionality. The operating system is slightly tweaked (S60 feature pack one vs. feature pack two) so there are some differences in transmissions and page loading. But as a whole, the phone is relatively unchanged.
Unchanged, that is, except for a new $100 price tag (good) a black paint job (badass) and the omission of our favorite feature from the original E71 (ugly).
We’re talking about the two separate, customizable home screens, something we absolutely loved about the O.G. E71. One screen was designed for business, the other for personal use. It was a great function: You could literally edit spreadsheets from 9-5 on one screen, then come quitting time, toggle over to the other and watch a couple of episodes of 30 Rock on the media player. It was the perfect separation of work and leisure and one of the most innovative quirks of the device.
Not so on the E71x. That functionality is gone — and with it, our lust for this phone. It’s not clear why AT&T dropped the feature. (We’re putting our money on the lower cost.)
Make no mistake — this is still a great phone. And now that it’s available for as little as a penny with a two-year contract, we think this phone is actually a great deal. Still, it’s disappointing to have waited so long for the E71 to be released stateside only to find it suffering from “awesome features removed by the carrier” syndrome.
Editor’s Note: This review was revised on May 18, 2009. The word “Crippleware” was removed from the headline and the final paragraph was revised.