The E61i feels solid even though it sports a slimmer form factor than the E61. Click for more images
It's been over a year since we looked at Nokia's first batch of E series business phones designed for mobile professions. The Editors' Choice Award-winning E61 was also the Finnish phone giant's first BlackBerry contender, a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard and push e-mail in a compact PDA form-factor.
Nokia has made subtle design changes to the E61i, enhancing the back with a sturdier aluminium case and changing the all-silver design by introducing "mocha" (purpley-brown) highlights around the edges. Although it's quite wide -- its dimensions are 117mm by 70mm by 13.9mm -- it's comfortable to hold in your palm and thin enough to slip into a pocket.
Aside from the addition of a 2-megapixel camera, Nokia's upped the battery life to 400 hours of standby and nine hours of talk.
Connectivity options are still extensive, with the E61i supporting quad-band GSM networks and 3G -- great for travellers -- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and for some reason that escapes us, infrared.
Corporate mobile e-mail solutions such as Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email, Good Mobile Messaging, Mail for Exchange, Seven Mobile Mail and BlackBerry Connect to turn the E61i in to a push e-mail device are supported. There's also the video camera, a music player and a video player for a bit of fun.
Quickoffice and Adobe Acrobat Reader are onboard for viewing and editing documents, and Nokia also includes an application called Teams that lets you set up groups of contacts for conference calls and mass messaging.
Unfortunately USB connections still require a proprietary Nokia Pop-Port cable -- no borrowing someone's spare mini-USB cable if it goes missing.
Nokia's changed from miniSD on the E61i to the smaller microSD memory format on the E61i, with a 256MB card bundled with our review model. It's hot-swappable once you remove the battery cover..
The E61i comes with an onboard 2-megapixel camera. Click for more images
Nokia seems to have addressed most of the downsides we found with its predecessor, namely a fiddly joystick, lack of camera and the menu layout.
The 2-megapixel camera has quite a shutter lag, but we were impressed with the clarity of low-light shots, even if they were a little noisy.
Battery life with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switched off was decent at four days during normal use, dropping considerably with wireless use.
One thing we were a little disappointed about -- while it's a 3G phone, Nokia hasn't added support for faster downloads through HSDPA.
If you've got a Nokia E61, there's nothing in the E61i that warrants an upgrade. If you're considering a 3G smartphone, however, the E61i is a formidable work tool for any business user or traveller.