The E61i has robust e-mail capabilities with support for Microsoft Exchange Server, POP3, IMAP, and SMTP accounts, and a full attachment viewer. You can get real-time message delivery through a number of push e-mail solutions, including Intellisync Wireless E-mail, BlackBerry Connect, GoodLink, Visto, and Seven Always-On Mail. Nokia offers additional help to business users by including a mobile VPN client so that you can securely tap into your corporate server. The E61i also works with popular instant-messaging clients, such as Yahoo and AOL, and it's text- and multimedia-message capable. And like the Nokia N75, the smart phone includes the Message Reader feature, which uses text-to-speech technology to read you your text messages. The utility worked fine in our tests, and it might come in handy when you need to hear a message while driving; otherwise, it might just be easier and less intrusive if you read your text the old-fashion way.
Wireless connectivity comes in many flavors, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, and infrared. We like that Bluetooth isn't limited to just hands-free headsets; you can use it for file transfers and dial-up networking, so you can use the phone as a modem to get your Bluetooth-enabled PDA or laptop connected to the Internet. Yet there's no support for the A2DP stereo profile. When surfing the Web with the device, you can configure the E61i to connect via GPRS or Wi-Fi via the Settings menu. The Web browser is worth a mention. Like the one found on the Nokia N80, the E61i's browser will present you with a thumbnail of the full Web page so that you can easily navigate to a certain point on the site, rather than having to scroll all over the place. You can also download RSS feeds and blogs, bookmark sites, block pop-up ads, and more. Unfortunately, the E61i does not support the U.S. 3G band. It works on Europe's HSDPA/WCDMA 2100 band, but not for the U.S. UMTS/HSDPA bands, so you're left with just EDGE speeds.
As a phone, the Nokia E61i offers world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, speed dial, and voice commands, plus it supports VoIP calls. The E61i's address book is limited only by the available memory, while the SIM card can hold an additional 250 contacts. Each entry has room for multiple numbers, an e-mail address, home and work addresses, a Web URL, and so forth. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo or a ring tone.
Though the E61i is a business device, it can have fun, too. The smart phone is equipped with a decent music player. It plays back MP3 and AAC files and can sort songs by artist, album, genre, or composer. You can also create playlists right on the device, set songs on random or repeat mode, and tweak the sound settings via the built-in equalizer. Unlike other Nokia models, the E61i does not have an FM radio. For videos, RealPlayer is onboard and is compatible with MPEG-4, MP4, 3GP, RV, RA, AAC, AMR, and MIDI formats.
To some people's delight but perhaps disappointing to business users whose workplaces ban the use of camera phones, the Nokia E61i now comes equipped with a 2-megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom and video recording capabilities. For still images, you get your choice of three quality settings, two resolutions, a night mode, a sequence mode, and a self-timer. In addition, you can adjust the white balance and color tone. In camcorder mode, there are three resolution options, and the night mode, white balance, and color tone adjusters are also at your disposal.
Picture quality was mediocre. Images were clear enough that we could see the details of an object, but the coloring was off with a grayish overtone. Video quality wasn't particularly impressive either, as clips looked extra pixilated.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS/EDGE) Nokia E61i in San Francisco using AT&T service, and call quality was generally good. We could hear a slight background hiss during lulls in our conversations, but overall we enjoyed clear sound and plenty of volume. Our callers also reported decent results. Unfortunately, speakerphone quality wasn't the greatest, as voices sounded tinny and weak, even with the volume jacked up. On the upside, we had no problems pairing the device with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset.
General performance was snappy. On several occasions, there was a few-second delay when launching some of the productivity and multimedia applications, but not enough to prevent us from working. We also didn't run into issues with running out of memory. Web browsing wasn't too painful, even with EDGE speeds. The E61i was also able to find and connect to our test Wi-Fi access point without any problems. Multimedia performance wasn't the greatest. Music playback through the phone's speakers was weak and one-dimensional, while once again, video clips looked pixilated and blurry.
The Nokia E61i is rated for five hours of talk time and up to nine days of standby time. We are currently still conducting our battery tests, but we will update the review as soon as we have final results. According to FCC radiation tests, the E61i has a digital SAR rating of 0.83 watt per kilogram.