I have been eyeing a new phone to replace my existing Nokia 6230 for a while now. I finally caved in and bought a brand new Nokia E61i from the Nokia priority dealer in the Pune city area today.
My last smart phone was a BlackBerry 7100. The phone was tuned for e-mail like other BlackBerry’s. However, the 7100 fit well in my jeans since RIM managed to squeeze in two alphabets for every key. Setting up GMail on the BlackBerry was a breeze and did not require additional tweaks. Using the proprietary BlackBerry network, my desktop Outlook contact book always stayed in sync with my BlackBerry. I could even charge my BlackBerry over USB – a feature that was extremely handy when I traveled overseas.
The BlackBerry 7100 (and later models) are killer e-mail devices because they do the following extremely well.
- push e-mail
- new e-mail notification
- a huge local e-mail cache with search
- a complete contact book to store names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses
- keep your e-mail, desktop contact book and calendar in sync without cables
- the ability to modify your “sent from”
- auto configure access to GMail and other popular personal e-mail providers
However, without the BlackBerry network, it is next to impossible to provide the functionality listed above. Joining the BlackBerry network in India costs Rs. 2000 a month which is by no means priced for individuals. In comparison, AirTel GPRS costs Rs. 350 a month with no caps on how much data you can transfer. Additionally, we decided to avoid Microsoft Exchange and opt for Google apps for our office e-mail infrastructure. Until and unless you plan to be on the BlackBerry network, a BlackBerry might not be a good fit.
There are several phones that compete fairly in the general smart phone category. I had a serious look at Samsung i600 (~Rs. 18,500), Nokia E62 (~Rs. 12,500). The Nokia E61i was the final winner primarily because it is based on the very stable Symbian OS. Also, it is an improvement over the earlier (tried and tested) Nokia E61 and was launched in May 2007. In terms of features and connectivity options the E61i is comparable to other phones in the category.
The Nokia E61i costs a little north of Rs. 18,850 here in India. Additional charges including VAT apply. In my conversation with the dealer, he claimed that Nokia phones have only a 1% retail margin and therefore credit card charges would be over and above the price of the phone (an additional 2%). Unlike the US, additional discounts are not offered by carriers. You usually end up paying the full cost of the phone and having a zero commitment contract.
The phone comes in a box with a battery charger, a single battery, a memory card (microSD) of 256MB, a pop port headset and a CA-53 data cable. The Nokia CA-53 data cable happens to be the most popular data cable as far as duplication by after-market vendors. I have attached a screen shot of the cable to help identify the real thing. Fake Nokia CA-53 cables never work as intended.
I will be looking to get the best out of the phone in the coming weeks and promise to highlight some of the best applications available out there.
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