FARNBOROUGH, England – Last week’s launch of the Nokia E6 saw a lot of you saying, “Finally, my device has come.” Single-handed QWERTY has lots of fans, with the addition of a touchscreen being the icing on the cake. But it also left you with questions. We caught up once again with Nokia’s man-with-an-E6-plan, product manager Chris Probert, to get you some answers.
NC: Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. We’ve had a lot of questions about the screen on E6. In particular, people are concerned about the brightness and readability, given it’s not an AMOLED. What can you tell us?
CP: No trouble. Well, measured in candelas, this is the brightest LCD panel we’ve ever put into smartphone. It’s more than double the brightness of the E72. You shouldn’t have any problems with the Nokia E6 outdoors, and the excellent pixel density makes text more readable than on other devices. It also has a better contrast-ratio than any other LCD panel we’ve used to date.
NC: The Nokia E72 had an optical sensor on the thumbpad. This doesn’t. Why?
CP: This is really a usability consideration. To put in an optical sensor when you’ve got the whole screen to touch seemed like overkill. The touch screen allows faster and finer control than the E72 navi-key with optical sensor and we want people not to get confused between two different input methods.
NC: Some people have suggested that the Nokia E6 has a small screen. I guess many of us have become used to big 3.5-inch+ screens over the last year or so.
CP: Well, the screen is 1.92mm wider than the Nokia E72, but the device remains 59mm wide. Being less than 60mm wide is crucial for fans of this form factor, a real sweet-spot. It fits easily in the pocket; it’s compact and even those with fairly small hands can use it single-handed. The smaller screen is part of what allows us to hit the amazing one-month standby time, too. Of course, bigger screens have advantages – and there’s devices like the Nokia E7 that hit all the business requirements and has a massive four-inch screen. But then, that’s not nearly so compact.
NC: One reader asked if the screen switches to portrait mode if you turn the device sideways?
CP: No, it doesn’t – we couldn’t imagine a use-case where that would be important. You can use the camera like that if you want portrait shots and the orientation sensor will detect this and show them in the gallery the right way up.
NC: We’ve had a lot of comments and questions about the full-focus camera. Some readers are concerned the quality is low. What do you say to that?
CP: It’s a good camera. I’d refer readers to Damian Dinning’s article about how our full focus cameras work. Ultimately, we’re responding to the research we’ve conducted with users. People said they wanted a fast camera: something they could just pull out and shoot. They said they wanted slimmer devices. Full focus answers those desires. Plus they get the advantage of Extended Depth of Field – so even casual shots will generally look good. As a general-purpose pocket camera, it’s great. Sure, it has limitations but not in the areas most people are looking for.
[NB: Chris has shared a number of great images from a Nokia-internal photography competition taken with the Nokia E6. We’ll publish these later this week. Ian.]
NC: Do existing Symbian apps work with the Nokia E6, given the different screen ratio compared to the other phones in the family?
CP: A lot of apps work fine right now. We anticipate that all of the apps that were successful on the E71 and E72 will be ported across. Nokia is working actively with a number of developers to ensure that new and existing apps work correctly when the Nokia E6 goes on sale.
If there are developers reading, do check out the documentation on Forum Nokia – all the specs are there and there are people ready to help. You can also test your apps using Remote Device Access.
NC: A reader on the Chinese site noted that there were five dots on the bottom of the screen. Does this mean five homescreens?
CP: Absolutely. We wanted users to have just as much opportunity for customisation as they do with other devices in the family. The E6’s screen is only three widgets deep, so we provided two extra homescreens to give users the same advantages.
NC: And finally, should I choose the Nokia E6 or the Nokia E7?
CP: Well, I’d say the E6, but maybe I’m biased! It’s really a question of individual priorities. The Nokia E7 has its advantages. It comes with a much larger screen, and a larger keyboard. You get HDMI-out and there’s more (16GB vs. 8GB) internal memory.
But then with the Nokia E6, you get to use memory cards, it has a better battery life and it’s more compact. It’s a really hard choice, I know: but it’s a good thing that people have got those choices.
One point to note is that once the Nokia E7 is updated with the new Symbian Anna software, it will have exactly the same corporate business functionality as the E6: all those things that are important to CTOs like hardware-assisted encryption, remote policy enforcement and VPN compatibility.
NC: Thank you, Chris, for your time.
Folks, Chris has agreed to monitor comments on this post and provide answers to questions where he can. Please be patient, though, he’s rather busy making sure the Nokia E6 gets out on time right now!