Review by Brad Kellett on Friday January 25, 2008.
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Nokia's Eseries has been making as many waves in the business device ocean just as the Nseries has for multimedia devices, and like its Nseries brethren, the Eseries keeps getting better and better. Thankfully, Nokia doesn't just try to cram more and more features into a device line to achieve this result, instead designing devices that cater to specific segments of the market.
The latest Eseries device, and subject of this review, is a perfect example of this. Nokia's E51, spiritual successor to the E50, might not pack a super high-resolution camera and incredible multimedia functions, but it does include most everything business users will need in a smart device, and does so in a very thin and light package. The E51 is also herald to some changes in certain long-running traits for Nokia's S60 smartphones, including the design of the look and functionality of the menu key, and the removal of the edit key.
To begin, the Nokia E51 is available in three color schemes: chrome, black, and rose. Don't get the chrome scheme if you want any sort of subtlety in your phone. The chrome color scheme, which our review example is graced with, is far too loud for a business device. With mirror chrome trim around the front, and an almost total mirror chrome rear, it is simply not a good choice for those looking for a more practical device. The black scheme dulls this mirror down vastly, making it the tasteful alternative, and even the rose version brings its own level of style to the table.
Apart from the above gripe, the Nokia E51 is a great example of simple and smart phone design. Everything about the device feels solid and durable. This is a good thing, as the device measures up at just 12mm (0.47.) thick, meaning any less could have made it feel very flimsy. A weight of 100g (3.53oz), though high for such a slim device, feels just right in the hand. Its other measurements aren't as impressive, at 114mm x 46mm (4.49" x 1.81"), which is about average for a bar style device of this class.
Grasp the Nokia E51 in your hand and you'll feel instantly familiar with the keypad. With the exception of the delete key, which has been placed directly underneath the d-pad as opposed to toward the right of the phone as on most other devices, the keypad is as close to perfect as I have seen on a phone in a very long time. The key travel and weight are spot on, and Nokia has shunned super-stylish keys for a basic design that just works. Big thumbs will feel right at home, as even the collection of quick access keys have a highly convex design, meaning it is hard to press more than one at a time. It is here in the collection of keys around the d-pad that we see our first interesting thing about the E51, as on top of access keys for the phone book, calendar, and messaging applications, which are totally customizable, we see a redesigned menu key that now sports a very Windows Mobile-like home icon. This key also behaves differently than in other S60 devices, but we'll get to that later in the review. Nokia has finally thought to include an automatic keylock for the E51, complete with a customizable lock time.
Brad Kellett writes for MobileBurn from his home outside of Sydney, Australia.