Nokia – E63 review

keyboard smartphone with two home screens
Photo of Nokia – E63
£119 (SIM-free)

Nokia’s E series handsets are designed primarily with business users in mind, but that does not stop them having broader appeal, and in the case of the E63 the point is underlined by a relatively attractive SIM-free price as well as the presence of two home screens.

This latter feature is potentially attractive to anyone wanting to use their mobile for both work and leisure. A shortcut on one home screen lets you switch to its alternative. You can populate the two with different wallpapers and shortcuts, effectively allowing you to turn from one mode of being to another quickly and easily.

The E63 has a small QWERTY keyboard which has to be one of the best we’ve ever used. The keys are well shaped, and as tiny keyboards go it is both quick and easy to work with. One quirk we like is the shift/spacebar combination which turns the camera backlight on and off, allowing you to get into ‘torch’ mode quickly. We also like the fact that the ‘@’ symbol is not on a function key combination, but on a key in its own right.

The screen is quite small at just 2.36 inches across diagonal corners. Its 320 x 240 pixels are bright and sharp, though. Between it and the keyboard is a bank of four shortcut buttons to home, calendar, contacts and messaging. Double presses and long presses on these keys have additional functions. For example on the calendar key a long press puts you into the screen for making a new appointment. The emphasis is on getting around quickly.

The E63 runs Symbian OS 9.2 over S60 3rd edition. There is 110MB of internal memory and a microSD card slot for adding more. One disappointment is that while the E63 is 3G it lacks HSDPA. Web browsing was still a satisfactory experience, and the Nokia browser has a good trick of giving a thumbnail preview of long Web pages so you can work out where precisely you want to zoom into on the page.

Another notable absence is GPS. Without it the built-in copy of Nokia Maps needs to use cell triangulation to determine your location. This won’t give you pinpoint accuracy, so take care when using it.

The main camera is limited to a rather measly 2 megapixels, and there is no front camera for two-way video calling. Wi-Fi is here, though, and it is welcome. There is a 3.5mm headset connector on the top edge of the phone, and an FM radio bulks out the substantial array of built-in equipment.

The E63 can be seen as a foil to the more expensive E71, the latter being a handset with a similar physical design but a whole lot more features including GPS, HSDPA and a better camera.

Company: Nokia

Contact: 0800 331 6021

With a range of features that excludes HSDPA and GPS, the E63 is not going to be every user's ideal smartphone. But its keyboard is superb and the dual home screen is a lure, too.