Nokia E61i: Unlocked and Loaded

Nokia smarthphone fans in the U.S. can rejoice. The company's update to last year’s E62 adds Wi-Fi support, a 2-megapixel camera, and a revamped D-pad; all incorporated into a slimmer design. Best of all, it’s available unlocked, so it will work with both AT&T and T-Mobile.

The E61i impressed me with its sleek, thin, aluminum and black-plastic enclosure. Its sharp 2.8-inch screen is a looker as well, and its keyboard is the best one I've tested, with dedicated symbol keys and good resistance. Calls sounded good, with clear reception, and the phone paired easily with Bluetooth headsets.

Oddly, although the E61i works over 3G data networks overseas, it won’t work over them in the U.S. It supports only UMTS, not HSDPA, and only on the overseas 2,100-MHz band. That means the otherwise high-flying E61i still kicks down to EDGE speeds when used stateside. Web surfing, however, was speedy even in EDGE mode, with an average download rate of 177 Kbps.

Multimedia options are spare, and the phone doesn’t support stereo Bluetooth. The 2MP camera takes mediocre pictures.

Nonetheless, the Nokia E61i's sleek design, nimble operating system, built-in Wi-Fi, and nice keyboard put it a step ahead of other business-focused handsets.

Nokia E61i: $484.95


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