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Review: Nokia E70 Foldable QWERTY Smartphone

Review by Jin Khang Ong on Tuesday September 19, 2006.

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The Nokia E70 is the 'other' QWERTY keyboard equipped phone in Nokia's latest E-series range, sharing the feature with the E61. Designed in a similar way as the old Nokia 6800 and 6820, the E70 has a full QWERTY keyboard hidden in a fold open design. For the uninitiated, this means that the E70 will look just like a normal phone with numerical keys when the flip is closed, but opens up to provide a full QWERTY keypad when needed.

Armed with a 2-megapixel camera and WiFi capabilities, the E70 seems like a very good alternative for those who prefer a smaller form factor than the E61. The Nokia E70 is a dual mode phone, featuring WCDMA/GSM operation (GSM 900/1800/1900MHz and WCDMA 2100MHz). This review will be based on the E70's capabilities in GSM mode, as I do not have access to 3G networks.

Physical Aspects

The first thing that went through my mind was how boxy and brick-like the E70 looks. The Nokia 6820 had smoother curves and sleeker lines, though it was just an S40 phone, without the high tech gadgetry featured in the E70. The flip on the E70 is very square and has sharp edges. The plastics used for the phone also felt cheap, and did not match the high price tag slapped on the phone. However, the phone was solidly built, and I experienced no creaks or squeaks.

On the front, the power button and light sensor are found next to the earpiece above the display. The light sensor automatically adjusts the screen brightness and keypad backlight, saving battery and reducing damage to your eyes when in poor lighting. The left and right softkeys flank the 5-way navigational joystick just below the screen. The numerical keypad is located on the flip, along with the call and end keys. The edit, menu, and clear keys are located just above the numerical keys. I disliked using the numerical keypad, as it was very difficult to press. The keys were slightly stiff, and it seemed as though the phone could not register some of my key presses. But then again, why would you want to use the keypad when there is a full keyboard waiting to be revealed?

On the right side of the phone there is only the Infrared port, and on the left you will find a rubber voice memo recorder button. Similar to the E61, this button can be accidentally pressed far too easily. Add to this the fact that the S60 UI is not equipped with an auto keypad locking function and you will find yourself recording random moments of your daily life regularly. There is nothing on top of the phone, and the Pop-Port connector, along with the charging port, is found at the bottom. The E70 uses the old charging port, instead of the mini charging ports found in recent Nokia phones. The 2-megapixel camera is found on the back of the phone, and there is no LED flash or self-portrait mirror.

Flipping the E70 open, the QWERTY keyboard is reminiscent of the one found on the 6820. The screen will switch into landscape orientation when the flip is opened. I noticed that it took more than 2 seconds for the display to switch between landscape and portrait mode. This might be firmware related, but I do hope Nokia looks into this, as it is annoying having to wait out the lag. Keys on the keyboard are placed right next to each other without spaces, and are square in shape. The keys are plastic and are quite comfortable to type on. Tactile feedback is good, and I'm glad to report that none of the problems found with the numerical keypad are found here. It took me some time to get used to the split keyboard design, causing me to look from left to right and back every time I typed a message or an email early on. However, I did eventually get used to it, and I really appreciate the fold over design that keeps the phone's dimensions to a minimum.

The keyboard, like the E61's, contains special keys. The menu key is located on the bottom left corner, and there is a light activation key on the top left corner. Pressing this will turn on the keyboard backlight if you ever find the surroundings too dim and the light sensor has not kicked in. There is a Ctrl key found on the bottom right corner that enables you to access functions such as copy, cut, and paste. It works exactly like how your keyboard functions on your desktop PC. The spacebar is located on both sides of the phone, and the Shift key is located on the right side next to the spacebar.

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About the author

Jin Khang Ong
Jin Khang Ong writes phone reviews for MobileBurn when he gets a few spare moments away from his day job as a doctor in Malaysia.

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