Ever since the advent of the iPhone in 2007, the mobile landscape changed drastically, with buttons and keys no longer exciting, and mobiles moving more and more towards minimalist designs with as little physical buttons as possible. The form factor that has suffered from this shift, is the communicator-like style: with a big screen and a full QWERTY keyboard, these devices that were always considered the epitome of mobility, are now looked at as bulky, heavy and more fragile offers.
However, 2 recent devices have set out to change the public’s perception on full-QWERTY devices: the Nokia E7 with its solid design, and the Desire Z with its relatively compact size. How do they compare to each other? Follow us after the break to find out.
The Nokia E7 is a Symbian^3 powered device, with a 4″ AMOLED Clear Black Display, a 680 MHz processor with a separate graphics processor, 256MB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, as well as WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI-Out, USB OTG, quad-band GSM and pentaband HSDPA. The body design is made of anodized aluminum and the screen is covered with Gorilla Glass, making it quite an unbeatable, unscratchable unit. The downside is that the battery is non-removable, and the camera is only an 8 MegaPixel fixed-focus (EDoF) unit that lacks any Autofocus at all. Read our separate Nokia E7 hardware tour here.
The HTC Desire Z on the other hand is an Android Froyo powered device, with a Super-LCD 3.7″ screen, making it a smaller device overall (albeit thicker). It comes with quad-band GSM, dual-band HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth, and boosts an 800MHz processor with separate GPU, 512MB of RAM, and a separate 8GB MicroSDHC card. The screen is covered with resistant glass, and the rest of the body is a mix of rubberized plastic and metal. It comes with a removable 1300 mAh battery and has a 5 MegaPixel camera with Autofocus, and offers, below the screen, an optical trackpad to move through menus and text. Read our separate Desire Z hardware tour here.
On the top, both handsets have a power button and the 3.5mm headset plug, the Nokia E7 adds a microUSB port with a charging status light as well as an HDMI-Out port. On the left side, the Desire Z has the volume buttons and the microUSB port, whereas the E7 has only a lock switch. The right side shows a Camera button on both handsets, with the E7 also featuring its volume rocker and SIM card slot there. The bottom of both handsets is clean.
The main feature of these devices is their hing and how it opens to reveal the full keyboard. Both open from the same side, but the similarities stop there. The Desire Z features the Z-hinge mechanism introduced by HTC, and it does a half arc rotation to fall back right next to the keyboard. The screen part is held only by 3 levers, and although the mechanism is quite sturdy at first, it starts becoming a bit loose with usage. The hinge is also subject to gravity, and you will find that holding the device vertically or upside down will trigger the screen to open.
The Nokia E7, on the other hand, features a super solid hinge design, even if it opens to a tilting angle and stays there. The screen is held by a small lever and a big plastic hinge, making it quite stiff and rigid to the usage. This effect doesn’t wear off, as a matter of fact, it becomes a bit more fluid with repeated usage, but it stays quite robust and won’t be triggered by gravity or anything beside an intentional nudge to open it.
When fully open, the Nokia E7 has a laptop-like form factor, with the screen propped-up to view from a desk, whereas the Desire Z has a flat overall structure. The E7 is more appropriate to watch videos, image slideshows, or basically leave nearby while working to keep an eye on Twitter or Facebook or the Music Player for example.
Due to the larger size, the E7’s keyboard is quite big, with massive separated keys. The special characters are limited to a 4-button directional keys setup on the lower right, Symbol, Shift, Control, and Function. The Desire Z on the other hand, while with smaller space, manages to cram more options out of the keyboard, with a Tab, 2 Functions, 2 Shifts, Symbol, as well as Menu and Search to help operate some Android applications, and two shortcut keys that help launch any application from anywhere on the phone. The travel is smaller between keys, and they are not perfectly aligned like on the E7, but the overall usage of the Desire Z is much more efficient than the E7’s, especially with the lack of the raised borders on both ends that hamper text entry on the E7.
Here are a 2 more pictures showing the screens on these handsets. The first one shows a slightly yellow’ish tint on the Desire Z running the Twitter for Android application, compared to a rather white tint with Gravity on the E7. The second one compares how two images are visible on the Z’s Super-LCD and the E7’s CBD AMOLED displays. I’ll let you judge the differences as we will have a full comparison of both screens later on FoneArena.
How do you find these two handsets? Are you interested by the communicator-like form factor with the big screen and the full keyboard? Or are you now more interested in candybar devices with an on-screen keyboard?