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New Nokia E66, E71 go a little more business casual

Traditionally, E series devices have been very corporate centric and serious in design, but now Nokia is updating the line with a more modern look and a fresh set of features.

Correction at 10 a.m. PDT: The story incorrectly listed which push e-mail solutions the E71 works with. It does not work with BlackBerry Connect or GoodLink.

Nokia E66
Nokia E66 Nokia

It may be that the Nokia E series sometimes suffers from Jan Brady syndrome as it gets overshadowed by a flashier member of its family--the Nokia N series (aka Marcia Brady). But the E series is just as bright and deserves some recognition too.

Traditionally, the E series devices have been very corporate centric and serious in design, but now Nokia is updating the line with the introduction of the Nokia E66 and Nokia E71, bringing with them a modernized look and a fresh set of features. Here's the breakdown:

Nokia E66: The successor to the Nokia E65, the E66 continues to offer a cool slider design, but it's been trimmed down and comes in gray or white with steel accents. The smartphone also has "turn-to-full view," which is similar to the iPhone's accelerometer feature in that when you turn the device on its side, the screen orientation will automatically switch from portrait to landscape mode. You can also alternate between Business and Personal mode. In Business mode, you'll have all your productivity tools readily accessible on your home screen, such as e-mail, calendar, and documents. Meanwhile, when you switch to Personal view, you'll get access to your multimedia files, the Web, and so forth.

The Nokia E66 will continue to run the third edition of the S60 platform on the Symbian operating system and has integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 (with A2DP support). Plus, it now offers assisted GPS and U.S. 3G support (850/1900; HSDPA). Other goodies include a 3.2-megapixel camera, support for Nokia's Ovi Internet service, 110MB internal memory plus microSD slot (supports up to 8GB cards), and a 2.4-inch QVGA nontouch display.

Nokia E71
Nokia E71 Nokia

Nokia E71: The E71 represents the more dramatic design makeover of the two. Taking over for the Nokia E61i, the E71 is still very much a messaging-centric device with its full QWERTY keyboard but it's not as bulky or dull-looking anymore. The smartphone measures 4.4 inches tall by 2.2 inches wide by 0.4 inch deep and weighs 4.4 ounces, compared with the E61i's dimensions of 4.6 inches tall by 2.7 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep and 5.3 ounces. The E71 will also come in gray or white, and have a 2.36-inch, 16 million-color QVGA display.

Feature wise, the Symbian smartphone supports Mail for Exchange, POP/IMAP accounts, and works with a number of push e-mail solutions, including Intellisync Wireless E-mail, Visto, and Seven Always-On Mail. The E71 will also have integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, HSDPA, assisted GPS, and the Business and Personal home screens.

Outlook: Both the Nokia E65 and E61i have a loyal following and have garnered good user reviews, so I'm sure current owners will be interested in the upgrade. However, as with Nokia's other high-end phones, the Nokia E66 and Nokia E71 have not been picked up by a U.S. carrier and will only be sold as unlocked handsets, meaning they'll carry a steep price tag (pricing has not been finalized but we suspect somewhere in the $300 to $500 range) and thus, limit the reach of the smartphones. Still, the E66 and E71 are shaping up to be some strong workhorses for the business community, and we'll, of course, give them a workout when we get them in for review. Both mobiles are slated to be available in the third quarter (around July/August) with the Nokia E71 expected to ship slightly ahead of the Nokia E66.