Will it be business or pleasure, sir? Traditionally, you have to decide between the two when buying a phone, but Nokia’s new feature-rich E66 or E71 handsets have the talents to let you indulge in both.

Both Series 60 smarties are additions to a series that is renowned for being more stuffy than a financial advisor, and have largely the same spec sheet. But while the E66 sports a traditional keypad, the E71 is going straight for the Blackberry’s e-mailing heart thanks to its full QWERTY powers.

Sexy back

For starters, it makes its predecessor, the E61i, look like a giant desktop calculator. It’s deliciously slimline at 10mm thick, and Nokia’s decision to plate the rear battery cover and outer trim with stainless steel makes it one of the most covetable smartphones around.  

But does the narrower frame compromise the QWERTY keyboard? Not one jot. In fact, it makes one handed typing a breeze, particularly as the E61i’s notoriously spongy buttons have been replaced with sturdy domed keys for improved purchase. The fat fingered may struggle a little but overall it’s a delight to thumb.

Faster and fitter

With double the RAM and a faster processor, the E71’s performance has been finely tuned and its reaction times are far sharper. Little tricks like grabbing a contact from your phonebook without leaving the home-screen – you just type the person’s name – and a split-screen calendar also adds to its new time saving talents.

Not all of the additions are a success though – the new ‘business to personal home screen’ switch is a bit too gimmicky for our tastes.

It’s a minor niggle, though, and the E71 regains its cool with its range of connectivity: Wi-Fi, HSDPA, A2DP, Bluetooth and even Infrared for the old schoolers are all on board. Personal email accounts are also ridiculously easy to set up – just give up your address, username and password – although getting it sparring with your work set-up (including support for Microsoft Exchange) might require a call to the IT manager.

Multimedia moves

The E71 may have a business heart, but a 3.2megapixel snapper with autofocus, built-in GPS and an accomplished music player gives it a vibrant fun side too.

The camera is surprisingly well equipped and takes decent enough snaps, while the built-in GPS receiver is quick to sniff out a satellite fix and join up with Nokia Maps 2.0 to give directions. Music fans will also dig the ability to download tracks from Nokia’s Music Store.

So should the BlackBerries be nervous? On this evidence, most certainly. The forthcoming Bold handset certainly looks promising, but it will have to pull out all the stops to oust the E71 as our favourite portable e-mailer. And now we’re not even ashamed to use it down our local.


Stuff says... 

Nokia E71 review

The E71 is the slinkiest QWERTY smartphone we’ve ever pawed and more than a match for the Blackberry clan

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