Product Type: Nokia Smartphone
Newest Review: ... are terrible, so to have the original products is a massive bonus and a great feature of the E63. If you're looking for a cheap smartpho... more
Member Name: ImVeryNice
Date: 03/01/11, updated on 03/01/11 (49 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent value, 3G compatible, durable finish, easy to use, standard features, works well as phone
Disadvantages: Browser slightly flawed, still not very fast online, mediocre camera, keyboard niggles, battery life
I'm no techno-junkie, nor am I a mobile fashion freak but I have recently become the owner and user of a smart phone: the Nokia E63. Such was my ignorance of this market that I was initially unaware that my phone is a near copy in appearance of the ubiquitous Blackberry, until my kids pointed it out. Having had a brief opportunity to compare with a friend's Zarzamora (that's Blackberry in Spanish) I would say the Nokia is a little more square and angular but otherwise a dead ringer (only it does ring). Not sure where these jokes are coming from, sorry!
Not to digress too far, I should explain that I had mentally chosen a classic Nokia 2730 but on comparing the deals on offer with "3", the E63 was £3 a month cheaper at £18 per month for 900 minutes or texts, 1GB of internet and a free phone. There was also an £80 cashback at Quidco. That was enough to convince me.
My first encounter with the phone was a little disappointing since it wasn't connected. After three days I still had no service but help was on hand since "3" had also included a pay-as-you-go SIM in the package and using this I was able to contact "3" for free (!) and my contract SIM was connected within the hour. Since then I have found the customer service at "3" to be polite and helpful, but that would be another review.
As a phone, the E63 has always worked well. The sound quality is good, I can hear and be heard - which wasn't always true with my previous mobiles - and I generally get a good signal. The phone book is easy to use, allows you to store additional details such as email and physical addresses and has a smart search facility. No complaints here. With the "3" network I also get a Skype application, which is free to use - apart from any charges Skype may make.
The Camera (2 MP with flash and virtual zoom) is not as good as I had hoped. Thinking that the results would be at least similar to an old 2 MP digital camera I was a bit disappointed to see how grainy and lacking in depth of colour the pictures are. This could be down to the tiny lens. Video too is rather jerky if your subject is fast-moving, like a child or dog running and playing. But at least you can zoom in and out while filming.
The QWERTY keyboard has minute keys of course though in practice I haven't had too many problems with hitting the wrong ones. Composing emails is a dream now.
A criticism is that when entering figures using number lock you have to take the number lock off to enter a decimal point then put the number lock back on to type in the rest of the digits. That's an extra three key strokes, every time. Above the main keyboard there are one-touch keys for main menu, calendar, contacts and mail. The "navigator" button sits in the middle just below the screen.
Setting up email (I use gmail and fastmail) was quick and easy; the phone took care of the POP and SMTP settings for me. It works well in retrieving and sending messages too. In fact, the only problem I have seen is an occasional conversion error on opening the full message. So far this has only affected certain junkmail senders.
Since this is a smart phone, the main interest for me was being able to access the internet on the move. There are two ways to do this, connecting to a WiFi network or through the mobile phone network. The latter will use up your data allowance. Setting the phone up as a WiFi device was simple enough following the instruction booklet. In fact this has proved more useful to me than using the mobile network. It's amazing how often you need to check the web last thing at night in bed or before getting up in the morning. It also meant I could go online when other family members were borrowing my office - which was more often than not. I could also control their access to the router (evil!).
Nokia's browser - I don't know if it has a name - is reasonably easy to use but not perfect. For some reason there were no instructions with the phone on how to use it, so I have had to apply my previous experience, which is mainly with IE Explorer and Firefox. A practical difficulty is the small size of screen (2.4") when using regular rather than mobile sites. All you see is a rectangular letterbox of the full screen, which can make navigation tricky. Zooming in can help, until the text is too small to read or the display can't cope and fields become superimposed. This is where a touch-screen phone (eg iPhone) would have a clear advantage, with its much larger screen. You get used it after a while, it's fair to say. Not so good is the fact the browser doesn't support flashplayer - at least not "out of the box", there may be a techie fix I don't know about. In practical terms this means I can't use all the facilities on some of my on-line banking sites that use flash animations as part of their payment validation process (eg Egg card). Another slight annoyance is that the keys immediately below the "navigator" button operate shortcuts that can take you right out of your browsing session if you accidentally touch them.
A lot was made of the advantages of 3G over 2G mobile networks (and billions paid to the Treasury for the licences issued to these new networks) but my first thought on using 3G internet was, "roll on 4G". Trying to access any large page is a slow process, up to a minute, and quite often the download freezes and you need to either reload or go back to the bookmark again. This makes it a pain for long browsing sessions. Performance on WiFi or mobile phone network is similar, provided the signal strength is good.
Nice touches are the pre-applied proper screen protector and the rubberised finish to the battery cover, which makes the phone secure to hold and resists scratching. A practical feature is the flashlight that uses the camera flash bulb. On the other hand I have found battery life to be a lot less than I expected. Nokia claim up to 480 hours - nearly three weeks - on stand by but I get only three days max, with only a few minutes on calls and perhaps an hour browsing the net every day.
When buying a new phone it is all too easy to get sucked into spending a lot on accessories but so far I have been able to get a Bluetooth dongle for my PC, an in-car charger and a 4GB microSD memory card, all for less than £10 online. With the possible exception of a case I doubt I will need anything else.
Of course this phone has a host of other features that I haven't used yet, such as the GPS or the "Office" applications. I wouldn't fancy using it to compose a dooyoo review though. There is an FM radio and music player, though the former requires headphones to act as an aerial. It is much easier to use an internet radio station if you need to use it this way.
Summary: Smart yes but not perfect