Nokia E7 vs BlackBerry Torch 9800
Nokia and BlackBerry have long since been seen as stalwarts of the demanding business community. They have, for many years, been relied upon as must-have devices to manage ones professional life but their appeal has seen something of a drop in recent years. The introduction of Apple’s iPhone saw a shift in demand, and the smartphone market took a decidedly sharp step forward, leaving Nokia and RIM behind.
Nokia’s E7 and BlackBerry's 9800 Torch each represent a re-evaluation from their respective stables and a fervent attempt to bring both manufacturers back in line with the current smartphone market. So, let’s do the decent thing and pit them against each other to see which one sinks and which one swims.
The BlackBerry Torch 9800 is something of a hybrid. It offers users a solid touchscreen experience but marries the much-loved ‘Berry keyboard to the package, allowing for the fast, accurate communication that RIM has been lauded for providing for two decades. While the touchscreen is nice, it’s not quite up there with the industry leaders and we can’t quite work out why RIM opted to mark its new era with something which was ostensibly behind the times.
The device itself is nice though, with a pleasing feel in-hand. It weighs in with almost identical dimensions as it’s cousin, the 9700 Bold, except for a millimetre or two here or there. The guts of the device punch well above the weight of the 9700 though, with both RAM and ROM doubled to 512MB. What is a shame is that RIM decided to keep the 624MHz processor of the Bold which, though sufficient, won’t set the world alight and certainly won’t hold its own against the standard 1GHz Snapdragon found in most of its competitors.
As you’d expect from a BlackBerry media compatibility is second to none, though movie playback is hampered by the less than stellar screen. The camera however, is a marked improvement over all of its predecessors. A 5-megapixel sensor isn’t quite up there with a lot of industry favourites but it’s certainly the best photographic experience we’ve had with a ‘Berry. Similarly video capture has been overhauled and the device records clips at 24fps in 640x480 resolution, though again this isn’t anywhere near the 720P being touted by other devices in the same price point.
The new BlackBerry 6 OS makes the package a pleasure to use adding social networking functionality, and of course the improved Webkit-based browsing experience to users. There’s no Flash or HTML5 at present, but the browser performs well and shouldn’t hamper anyone but the most ravenous consumers of mobile video. Battery life is also excellent and a casual user could easily get by without charging every day, which is almost unheard of with today’s smartphones.
Messaging is and always shall be the bread and butter of a BlackBerry though, and the Torch is no exception. It performs tirelessly and the keyboard is great for typing longer communications. ‘Berry’s messaging chops are all subject to subscription though and it’s worth noting that without subscribing the device is little more than an expensive paper-weight.
Conversely Nokia’s E7 offers all of the above (and some might argue, more) without so much as a sniff of subscription fees.
Nokia’s E7 is a Symbian^3 based messenger, which doesn’t quite cut the compact figure that the BlackBerry does. What it lacks in bijou design it makes up for it specification though, with 256MB RAM, 16GB on-board storage and a 680MHz ARM Cortex processor with 3D graphics acceleration. The chassis, while burly, is well constructed and has the same re-assuring feel as other Nokia devices.
The E7's Qwerty keyboard really is a pleasure to use. The keys are well spaced and we often found ourselves touch typing, which is no mean feat on a mobile device. BlackBerry keyboards are famed for their comfort and responsiveness but the E7 easily walks away with the ‘best keyboard’ honours in this comparison.
Another facet of the E7 which leaves the BlackBerry in its wake is media functionality. Nokia have included an 8 megapixel sensor which produces excellent shots and the device is also capable of shooting 720P video at 25FPS. The 4-inch AMOLED touch-screen is great for playing back all of your captured content too and the Dolby Mobile adds a real kick to the audio playback. There’s also the added bonus of an HDMI-out port, to allow you to enjoy your content on an HD television if the small screen just isn’t enough.
Where the E7 falls flat is on its operating system. Where BlackBerry have opted to re-invent, unfortunately Nokia has chosen to languish and Symbian^3 is a real let-down. The hardware certainly isn’t to blame for stuttering and lag, just as the high-quality display shouldn’t shoulder the blame for unread finger presses. All of these faults lie solely at the feet of an archaic operating system that Nokia should have had the wisdom and foresight to walk away from.
Though the E7 boasts the same messaging functionality as the BlackBerry it can’t adequately compete with the snappy, reliability of RIM’s subscription service. It may offer Exchange support and a great keyboard but the package is ultimately let down by a laggy UI and stability issues and it’s for this reason that we feel the Torch wins this little face-off. It may not have some of the bells and whistles that the Nokia offers but what it does do, it does well.
If you can get past the buggy UI you’ll still find a great device underneath but unfortunately in a market which is home to Android and iOS, as well as the exciting new QNIX based UI being planned by RIM, Symbian^3 remains a relic.