Nokia has taken last year's E61 to the guillotine and, after a few simple strikes, has returned with one of the most attractive smartphones on the market at this time ... hang on, haven't we written this sentence before? Oh yeah, this is how we started the, the E63's sexy twin.
It's back! We loved the design of the E71, with its sleek curves, QWERTY keyboard and landscape display. The E63 shares all of these aspects, plus comes in a range of fun. Our review unit is a cheeky ruby red, but a blue and black are also available.
The stainless steel chassis of the E71 is gone and replaced by soft touch plastics. The keyboard is exactly the same in its layout, though the keys feel more rubbery and kind of tacky, which helps when typing with the tiny buttons. Between the screen and keyboard are an array of shortcut keys — home, calendar, contacts and messages — with a large five-way nav key in the centre. One thing we can't understand is how the E63 features less hardware than its E-series sibling, but manages to be 3mm thicker. The difference isn't too great, though it is noticeable.
On the back of the handset Nokia has included a 2-megapixel camera with a self-portrait mirror and an LED flash. Holding down the space key on the keyboard switches the flash on so you can use it as a torch. Under the battery cover Nokia has wisely included a huge 1500mAh battery pack. The E63 doesn't have a volume rocker on the side of the handset, instead the nav-key changes the speaker volume during calls.
The phone is charged via the standard Nokia charging pin at the base of the phone, and the handset has slots both for USB connections and microSD memory expansion on the side of the unit. Unlike the E71, the E63 sports a 3.5mm headphone socket under a rubber plug on the top of the phone. Strangely, this protective plug isn't attached to the phone so you'll have to stow it in a pocket while you use headphones. Be prepared to lose this plug in the wash as soon as you buy the phone.
The E63 is an interesting mixture of inclusions and exclusions compared with other smartphones available. Its AU$509 price tag should suggest not to expect all the standard smartphone hardware, but you might be surprised at what Nokia has left in. The E63 is firstly a very capable messenger. It sports 3G connectivity and Wi-Fi, but not HSDPA. Most people should find this sufficient for basic mobile browsing and email delivery, though the E63 isn't the phone you'll want to use for mobile broadband sharing with a PC.