It’s been nearly two years since get-gadget called the Nokia E71 a “legit iPhone killer,” and now Nokia has updated the much-lauded device — almost bringing it into the ’10s — with the E73 Mode.
Though it’s now clad in a gunmetal gray instead of shiny silver, only a little of the E71’s DNA has been altered with this release. Renowned for its ultra-slim profile, the E73 Mode is still extremely thin (about 10mm thick) and light (4.6 ounces), despite offering the full panoply of smartphone features, courtesy of the Symbian S60 3.2 operating system. That OS is now looking laughably dated, but if you’re a Nokia veteran or are still comfortable navigating with a five-way pad and a QWERTY keyboard instead of a touchscreen, you’ll find it reasonably easy to get around.
The refinements in the E73 Mode over its predecessor are easy to enumerate: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g only), GPS and compass included, along with turn-by-turn navigation, an upgraded 5-MP camera with flash, Ovi services for adding apps, and support for both HSDPA and HSUPA cellphone networks. And battery life is positively inhuman on the E73: We managed more than 13.5 hours of talk time in our tests. Call quality and photo quality are fine, if short of killer. Finally, the E73 retains the ability to create custom home screens along with S60’s famous support for Adobe Flash (take that, Apple fanboys!).
On the other hand, some issues that should have been addressed remain. The phone feels sluggish, and the screen, at 320 x 240 pixels, is decidedly chunky-looking and in need of an upgrade. The dated navigation and interface make even simple tasks slow and non-obvious, and the touchpad, which is recessed deep within the five-way button, is also difficult to use.
Despite some nagging concerns, the Nokia E73 remains a great bargain for a perfectly capable smartphone. As competitors pass it by, Symbian may represent a less savvy alternative to iOS 4, Android and even WebOS, but, for now anyway, it’s at least still in the running.