Review: the Nokia E51

The crown jewel of Nokia right now is the E51 and sent us one over for a review. Some of you will be surprised by this comment as there are other and more powerful Nokia phones out there, but there’s a reason for it. Read on to read it.The E51 comes with European HSDPA support, quad-band GSM support and EDGE, a 2″ QVGA 16mil colors TFT screen, a microSD slot, 130 MB storage, 96 MB SDRAM, an ARM11 at 369Mhz, Wi-Fi 802.11g, Bluetooth 2.0, a 2.5mm audio jack, a 2MP camera and an FM radio. In the box we found the phone, a Li-Ion 1070 mAh battery, a charger, a handsfree, a USB cable, and the manual/CD.

The phone only weighs 100gr and it’s really thin/small for a business phone. It feels very good on both the palm and on a jeans pocket. On the bottom of the device you will find the standard mini USB 2.0 port, the charging port and the 2.5mm audio jack. On the left side you will find the voice recording button, and the microSD slot. Note that you need to remove the battery door to place the microSD card in it, but you don’t need to remove the battery or — if you are careful– turn off your phone. On the top you will find the on/off/profiles button, and on the side you will find the vol up and down and “voice command” button. The main keypad is classic, with some shortcut buttons for calendar, contacts and email. I found the main keypad really easiy to press, and press precisely, but the side rubber buttons (volume/voice recording) were difficult to register. Also, the E51 automatically adjusts its screen brightness and keypad light on/off depending on how much light there is around. It has a light sensor for both the screen and keypad.

The device exhibits great signal strength, and top notch voice quality. Battery life was very good, 4 hours of talk time, well over 10 days of GSM stand-by, and 3 days of standby when WiFi is constantly registered to a VoIP server (yes, this is good battery life for a WiFi/VoIP). It is very fast to operate, and the interface is spiffy too. Among my favorite features are A2DP support, h.264 QVGA support and of course, VoIP SIP. In fact, most of my calls during the testing period were via GizmoProject’s VoIP network, mostly to Greece. An important thing to note here is that the E51 did not sprang out of VoIP “registration” like the N95 did last summer. The E51 has a very solid implementation of VoIP.

Regarding the apps found on the phone, it’s just the usual Symbian S60 3.1 apps, which I should not repeat again on each Nokia review we publish… It’s got the usual, plus AdobePDF, QuickOffice, Active Notes, Search, plus a camera capture application that makes more sense than the one found on the N-series. Java worked as good as always, with Opera Mini, Gmail and Google Maps support being very fast.

Now, there are a few negatives on the phone, however some people might not even think of them as such. First of all, there is no camera flash. The camera has a green noise on almost all pictures. The second problem is that the QVGA MPEG4-SP recording is only at 10 fps (sample, right click to save it). I ran my videos on Quicktime and checked their frame rate, it’s just waaaay too low. I hope this is fixed on a new firmware release, because it doesn’t feel great to have a super-fast ARM cellphone with mediocre recording abilities just because Nokia wanted to segmentize their market instead of any real, technical reason. Finally, the last negative point is the higher-than-normal SAR values (radiation) — numbers released by Nokia on their site.

Overall, this is one of the best business phones around, and one of the best phones in general. It’s reliable, it’s thin, it’s a true smartphone and it has super-reliable VoIP. It’s a great upgrade over the E50 and the E60 models, so if you are looking for a good “all-arounder” this is the model to get. AllAboutSymbian seems to agree too.

Rating: 9/10


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