The Nokia E63 looks like a near carbon copy of the incredibly popular Nokia E71 QWERTY smartphone. It has nearly the same dimensions, keyboard and overall design, with a few features removed to bring it into serious budget-saving territory. What's different from the E71? The E63 has a plastic casing rather than metal, it has US 3G for AT&T but the slower WCDMA flavor rather than HSDPA, a 2 rather than 3 megapixel camera and there's no GPS. This is an unlocked GSM phone that requires no contract, so there's no carrier subsidy. That means it's not as cheap as most carrier phones with contract, but at $279 with no commitment it's a bargain and about $80 cheaper than the E71. The E63 is an unlocked GSM phone that can be used with any GSM carrier (that's AT&T and T-Mobile in the US).
Torn between the unlocked E71 and the E63? If your budget is really tight, the E63 has a distinct advantage since it costs approximately 25% less. It's particularly appealing if you don't need a GPS and don't intend to tether your phone to a laptop for data (WCDMA tops out at 384k while HSDPA offers a theoretical 3.6Mbps with real world 700kbps on AT&T) or are on T-Mobile where the phone works only on EDGE anyway. Conversely, if your budget isn't tight, the $80 gets you a lot. E71's metal casing is attractive, slimmer and sturdy, the GPS is there along with HSDPA, and the camera is a bit better.
Design and Ergonomics
The Nokia E63 is made of high quality plastics, and feels solid. It's available in two colors: red and blue. The front face is bright and mid-gloss while the back has a more complex color mix with a mild bronzing effect and a soft touch finish. Though the Nokia E71 is thinner by 3mm and sleeker, its metal back and super-slimness make it easier to drop than the soft touch E63.
The keyboards are identical, and that's a good thing. The keys are slightly larger than the BlackBerry Bold's, and they're very easy to type on thanks to an ergonomic layout, textured non-slip surface and doming. As an E Series business phone, the full QWERTY keyboard is perfect for email and SMS and light work on MS Office documents.
The d-pad is a perfectly normal one and doesn't have Nokia's Navi wheel feature like some recent N Series phones. We're not complaining since the Navi wheel didn't make scrolling any easier. The 2.6" QVGA 320 x 240 landscape is sharp and again, looks identical to the E71's.
There are no dedicated volume controls on the phone's side, instead you'll use the d-pad to change volume when in a call. The E63 has a standard 3.5mm stereo headset jack with an annoying little rubber plug that's sure to get lost. A basic stereo headset is in the box (Nokia HS-125)-- nothing as fancy as the headsets included with N Series Nokia phones. The phone supports Bluetooth headsets and A2DP stereo headsets, and as per usual for Nokia, compatibility and sound quality over Bluetooth is very good.
The E63 runs the same Symbian OS 9.2 with Nokia S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 as the E71. They also share the same ARM11 compatible single core 369Hz CPU and memory (128 megs of RAM with 70 megs free at boot and 256 megs of flash storage with over 100 megs available). The smartphone has an SDHC microSD card slot that's compatible with cards up to 8 gigs in capacity. The E63 is responsive and easy to navigate using the large d-pad. Since it's an E Series smartphone, business applications take precedence over multimedia, though there are plenty of multimedia apps to keep one entertained: Real Player, Flash Lite 3.0 for youtube support, an FM Radio, Internet radio, music player, voice recorder, Podcasting application, Ovi and Nokia's Gallery application.
Business applications include Quickoffice 4.1 with view/edit/create capabilities for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents (upgrade required for MS Office 2007 docs), Mail for Exchange support, a translation dictionary, unit converter, Intranet (VPN) support, a Zip manager, Bluetooth wireless keyboard driver (standard on most Nokia S60 devices), Adobe PDF viewer, Bluetooth printer support and Nokia's standard messaging client for POP3, IMAP and Exchange email.
The E63 has the usual set of S60 PIM applications (identical to the E71 and other recent Nokia S60 phones).
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