I recently bought one of these things:
I've never owned a fancy phone before so my impressions may be kind of naive. My rationalization was, if I'm going to spend an hour-plus walking the dog every day, I might as well plow through some email or news while I'm at it. The real reason is that I wanted a fun toy for my birthday. I bought it through Amazon, no complaints.
So far, so good -- it's a pretty sweet device. On the plus side:
Solidly built, not too ugly, not too big or heavy, fits in my pocket, good ergonomics.
Runs the mobile Gmail and mobile Google Maps, which are good and usable. Maps is a bit sluggish, but I'm sure it will be a life-saver the next time I'm lost.
Can browse most reasonable websites, like nytimes.com, slashdot, MythWeb, Wikipedia, etc. The browser is decent and fairly usable, even with the little thumbstick.
Has a flip-out qwerty keyboard for thumb-typing.
Runs a version of PuTTY.
Is a way better music player than the iPod, as far as I'm concerned. Massive pluses are:
- Treat it like a flash drive; no messing around with proprietary PC software like iTunes etc.
- Create and edit playlists on the device itself.
- Can correctly play many of my VBR mp3's that choke iPods; also gets the running times correct.
- It's already in my pocket. Capacity is way lower than HD-based iPods, but it's way lighter than those, and it's not an extra thing to carry & remember to recharge --> phone wins.
The camera is pretty good. It didn't figure into my purchasing decision because I figured the camera would be crappy, but it's actually better than my (admittedly ancient) Olympus digital camera for daytime shots. It's easier to use and faster than my old camera as well (probably due to lack of flash & focus :) And, I'm already carrying it with me, so I'm much more likely to get interesting shots.
The screen is very sharp.
Can work as an Internet phone (SIP protocol is built-in, Skype is available by downloading Fring).
Has wifi -- so at work or at home, I have high-bandwidth data.
The cell phone is good; easy to use, sounds good, decent speakerphone etc.
Impressive battery life, under the circumstances. I seem to get about two days use before the bars start dropping, of mostly listening to music and light email. I don't talk on the phone much; your milage may vary.
Takes a Mini SD card, so I now have 2GB for music & photos and whatnot.
Based on the GSM standard, so presumably it will work in Europe and possibly Africa. Also I can choose between T-mobile or AT&T. I started with T-mobile prepaid, which is very cheap and convenient for someone like me who doesn't talk a lot, but in order to get data service I had to switch to a 1-year contract, bah.
On the minus side:
I don't love the thumbstick; it's a little too stiff to press down on. Often I would slide it when I meant to press down. Though I have gotten more used to it over the past couple weeks.
Though the screen is sharp and hi-res, it is kind of small. I find myself zooming the browser text for readability; but it's a small squinty screen no matter how you slice it.
Thumb-typing is torturous compared to a real keyboard. It's much better than number-pad input, but that's hardly saying anything. Mobile PuTTY and web browsing and such might be handy in a pinch, but a laptop is so much faster and easier to use that it's generally worth waiting to do those things until I'm near a real computer.
It turns out that wifi support is kind of irrelevant to me, because wifi does not work outside my house or office. The island of Manhattan is blanketed with heavy layers of wifi, but 99% of the access points are locked, and the other 1% rarely work, and of course Central Park lacks any wifi, which is where I take Pokey in the morning. So, I need a cellular data plan anyway. T-mobile's all-you-can-eat data is $6 (over and above the cheapest $40 voice plan, which I only got because it's a prerequisite for data -- so admittedly the incremental cost of data for me is like $35/month, gah). The cellular data seems to be effectively about as fast as my wifi (i.e. the limiting factor is probably the phone's software, not the wireless link). Wifi is handy for browsing my home network behind the firewall, namely MythWeb, but I wouldn't much miss lack of wifi.
The Internet phone software is pretty flaky. When setting up a SIP connection, it is extremely unforgiving and gives very little useful feedback for debugging, so it literally took me a couple days to get SIP working. Also, my voip provider has an unusually short SIP registration timeout of 60 seconds, and there is no way to set that in the E70's configuration (I think most services default to 3600 seconds). In practice, that means incoming SIP calls usually don't ring the phone! Instead they go straight to voicemail. Outgoing calls worked fairly well.
I had better luck with Fring, a third-party telephony app -- it seemed to register correctly and be able to receive incoming calls reliably. Fring is also cool in that it can connect to Skype and Google Talk for voice calls as well. However, I found Fring to be a bit crashy, so even though you can set it up to launch automatically when the phone starts up, it would eventually (after a couple hours) crash and stop running -- no more incoming SIP calls. Fring is also not perfectly integrated into the normal phone features. I did get some good usage out of the SIP features for cheap outgoing calls to Botswana while Julie was still there. Sound quality was good; about the same as any mobile phone call. But for ordinary domestic calls, regular cellular service is much more reliable and user-friendly. I don't talk enough to make the cheapness of SIP or Skype worth the hassle, so now that Julie is back in town, I haven't used the voip features.
The music player likes to order songs alphabetically by title, instead of by album track number. Duh. As a result, I usually use Shuffle, which is an OK workaround, but sometimes I would prefer to hear an album in its intended order.
The music sound quality is great with wired headphones, but the phone doesn't have a 3.5mm headphone jack! Instead I had to buy a retarded little dongle connector. It works fine, but I had to special-order it, and it's not very elegant.
Doesn't support the hi-fi Bluetooth audio profile (A2DP). I tried some Bluetooth music headphones in a cell store when I was looking for a music headphone adapter, and the sound was mono (all-right-ear), and atrocious quality. Probably fine for phone calls, but no good for music. Personally I think I'm happier with wired headphones anyway since they're cheaper and don't need recharging, but I thought I'd mention it.
It's a computer with software in it. Sometimes crashes! Down with computers!
Interesting blog http://kvet.ch/articles/2007/02/25/the-nokia-e70-in-review
Improved calendar app for symbian http://www.sbsh.net/products/papyrus_symb/ (I haven't personally tried this; wake me up when Google Calendar has a mobile client)
Explanation of T-mobile data plans: http://www.gruups.com/tzones/