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Another Treo Killer? Nokia's E61

To my surprise, Nokia today announced the addition of three new business-oriented phones one of which (the model E61 pictured below) is particularly relevant because of its form factor and full QWERTY keyboard.  Evidently this is Nokia’s answer to fight our Treo and other smartphones coming onto the market early next year such as Motorola’s Q.


In hindsight it seems so obvious that Nokia should have developed such a phone before – the company certainly had the design and technical capabilities – but I have the impression that they did not do so because of NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome.  I guess that now that everyone knows that the smartphone is the single most important future device in the mobile industry that Nokia could simply not hold out from releasing its own.

Image above approximate scale only…

The overall hardware specifications of the E61 are quite similar to those of our Treo with the major differences being that it sports a QVGA (320x240) screen with 16 million colours, it has no external antenna, is about 40% slimmer, has Bluetooth 1.2, supports VoIP-like functionality and WLAN connectivity among others.

GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and WCDMA 2100
Speech codecs: AMR, FR and EFR, NB-AMR

Weight: 144 g (with Nokia Battery BP-5L)
Dimensions: 117 mm x 69.7 mm x 14 mm, 108 cc 

Memory Functions
Up to 75 MB of fixed user data memory
Expandable memory: 64 MB miniSD card, MultiMediaCardHot swap slot for easy MMC card insertion and removal

I thought that it was funny how Nokia was taking a stab at other smartphone devices such as our Treo by specifically stating that “The Nokia E61 also features superior voice functionality and quality when compared to other devices that combine PDA-llike features with a mobile phone”.

Additionally and very interestingly, the company’s press release also notes that:

“The [new business] devices support advanced voice services, such as Internet (Voice over IP) phone calls, Push to talk, and other SIP-based rich call services giving businesses a variety of ways to make it easier for employees to collaborate or respond rapidly in or out of the office. Companies deploying an Avaya or Cisco IP PBX can connect the new Nokia devices directly to their corporate phone networks, enabling functions employees have come to expect from a corporate network like four-digit dialing and assisted call answering.”

I have no doubt that because Nokia has leading position in Europe’s mobile market, the fact that the specifications of the E61 are quite impressive and the minor fact that it does not have an external antenna will combine to make the E61 an extremely popular device there.

My main issue with the E61 and other Nokia devices is the fact that they are running the Symbian OS which many consider to be quite weak compared to the Palm OS first and Windows Mobile second.

Overall, as I’ve mentioned before, 2006 promises to be an extremely important and interesting year for Treonauts and the entire smartphone space… and an extremely competitive one for Palm…

New Nokia Family of Devices Targeted at the Business World [Nokia Press Release]
Nokia E61 Product Page

Treonauts love to compete

Posted by Andrew on October 13, 2005 at 12:18 PM

Treo Killers?

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by Sophie | Oct 13, 2005 1:10:53 PM

Saying the Symbian is weak software wise is just not true. The Palm OS is the weakest of the three. The E61 is far better specified that the Treo, and the software is if anything some way superior.

With 80%+ marketshare in smartphones Symbian is dominant. The Treo is a great device, but against the Symbian family of devices I think it will become fairly irrelevant in the broader picture (with perhaps an exception in the US where it will take longer to fall out of the picture).

The E61 is what the Treo may have look liked in a few years time.

by Jason Cheeseman | Oct 13, 2005 1:47:04 PM

Just looked at the specs for the E61 and it ticks all the right boxes for me (blackberry email, high res screen, email, calendar) but they've missed off the camera!!

Back to the drawing board. One day I'll get Blackberry Connect, Camera (hires), Bluetooth that actually works with my BMW - I can only dream

by James | Oct 13, 2005 2:31:31 PM

This is what the Treo 650 should have been, bluetooth 1.2, WLAN, slimmer form factor reasonable amount of RAM.

I love my Treo 650 and prefer Palm OS to everything out there but with those simple additions it could have been perfect. Its not as if the Treo is cheap even to make up for it. Right now I'm almost doubting whether Palm wilk ever come out with a PalmOS successor to the 650.

by Matt | Oct 13, 2005 6:09:48 PM

Crap this sucks, my interest in getting a Treo is waning when i hear of all the things its missing and all the things the other companies have...

by jimmie | Oct 13, 2005 8:55:03 PM

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. All smart phones want to grow up to be a Treo. Sprint announced Treos will be getting blackberry connect in the beginning of 2006. Palm OS is also in my opinion a more substantial OS.

by Charles | Oct 13, 2005 9:51:43 PM

I had a Symbian OS PDAPhone (p900) before the Treo650, and there are much less good programs available for the Symbian OS than for the Palm OS.

The Symbian OS by itself is not bad, there are just not enough good programs available otherwise I woudl switch back to Symbian (or Nokia for their much better sound/mic)

Now let's not get our numbers wrong: Symbian OS is the first only because of Nokia's latest phone all being build on Symbian. But that doesn't mean that the platform is successful as an OS for PDA users.
On most Symbian phones (Nokias) you have a very limited range of application you can install and run.

Plus a big advantage of the PalmOS: most application have a sync conduit.

by LakaHata | Oct 13, 2005 10:26:05 PM

Its funny how people tend to hang on to "lagging" technologies. I love the Treo, however outside of its form factor, its falling behind. I was a blackberry fiend for years (and still am - I think their is no email machine superior to the blackberry) however, when I got the Treo there were a lot of things that made me love it. I believe any phone that offers the same features as the Treo AND has a durable form factor is a sure fire winner. Nokia has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to designing phones and their software. (Who remembers the little Nokia 8260?)

I love competition, because that is what drives these manufacturers to make better equipment.

By the way - I love the TREONAUTS site. Thank you very much!

by ritz | Oct 13, 2005 11:36:19 PM

well we all love our treos, that's why we're here.. right?

but just look at the specs on this thing... there's no feature which i can think of that is not present on this device. i personally don't use cam phones so the lack of it makes no difference for me.

i don't think most of u paid attention to the fact that the screen has a colour depth of 16M... i think that's a first on any device... be it a phone, pda, pmp etc..

all said.. give me something like this running palm (with multitasking support), and guess it'll be pretty close to bliss :)

my dream device would at this point of time would be a wcdma treo (thinner, no antenna) with wifi, bluetooth 1.2 supporting all major profles, 128mb atleast... and if possible usb 2.0 connectivity thrown in as well. most importanly... no cheap parts!! minor software tweaks such as call recording etc.. would be gr8 too.

nothing out of line as far as the features go... i'd happily pay upto $1000 for such a device coz there won't be a need to upgrade for a long long time.

sorry for the long post... btw, have been completely hooked to treonauts for almost one year now... must say u're doing a fab job of running this site!!

by Christian | Oct 14, 2005 2:32:01 AM

I am a former Symbian user (p800 and p900).
The only weaknesses compared to the treo i can remember are:

- less perfect outlook sync (to be friendly!)

- less efficient text entry (didn't know how good the treo keyboard works)

- less program available - but those available have good quality

- PIM functions less powerfull (indeed try to enter yearly repeated events! i.e. birthdays...)

- Overall perfomance and functions in PIM Area not as "fine-tuned" as on WM 5 and Palm OS.

by leon | Oct 14, 2005 5:09:59 AM

Palm should see this and the new P990 as a serious threat for one reason; the longer the Treo doesn't have wifi built in the more customers they're going to lose.

I love the look of the Treo 700w and would get one but my mantra is simple; no wifi=no deal!

by Andrew | Oct 14, 2005 3:17:43 PM

Thank you very much for your kind words!

Cheers, A.

by Kerem Arig | Oct 16, 2005 10:37:34 AM

I will comment on the appeal. Whatever the functionality, this Nokia looks like a business machine, not even close to aesthetic design of our Treo.

by Bob O'Shaughnessy | Oct 16, 2005 8:46:12 PM

I think that there are two key things here:

1. The E61 might be a good phone, which the Treo is not. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

2. The E61 comes to the table with a couple of key features that the Treos lack: WiFi and BT 1.2.

Add that to the completely new features for a Symbian phone (corporate VOIP and the thumbboard form-factor) and you've got a killer device.

Despite the gadget-freaks (like me) that buy these things, Palm and Nokia (and the phone companies that buy these things) would much rather sell these by the hundreds (or thousands) as company-issued devices. In that environment, all it takes is some sales manager trying to make a voice call on a Treo, or trying to get it's awful keytones to work with a corporate voicemail system to sell a couple hundred E61's.

The three main functions that these devices have to do are:
Voice calls, where the E61 would most likely win hands down, even before you figured in the whole VOIP and Nokia/Avaya PBX forwarding.
Email, which is a toss-up based on the company's email system. Looks like this thing has Blackberry support (which I gather is pretty good, but my company is limping along with Exchange 2000, so I wouldn't know)
A teeny bit of web browsing. I've been told in no uncertain terms that Opera for Symbian eats any Palm browser alive.

If I were Palm, I'd be looking long and hard at this device, and if I were Cingular or T-Mobile I'd be fighting to get exclusivity on it.

This is the Treo killer.

by Rajat | Oct 16, 2005 11:24:14 PM

Well, no camera stills holds me back...

But mind you, i had used symbian for past few YEARS, before swithching to treo 650, and found symbian MUCH MORE stable than palm os. Also, it has very inovative softwares in entertainment department.

You can never say something is weak compared to other without trying, can you?

by Dennis Ng | Oct 23, 2005 11:57:48 PM

I think the "Killer" nokia symbian phone has to be the Nokia E70. It has the same basic featureset as the E60, but with a 2.0MP camera, flip out keyboard, and a BEAUTIFUL 352x416 screen ( longer and wider than the treo screen ).

by Alex P | Feb 2, 2006 7:48:26 PM

Some ppl wrote here that symbian is weak compared to wm5 and palm...that is a joke.
symbian is far better than both wm5 and palm.
palm i don't know but the fact that it isn't multitasking tells it all...no offence but it's 2006. and wm5 it's the worst by far...even microsoft said that they have very much work to do on the windows mobile to make it a "competitive" OS and that the competition is ahead. well the competition is palm and symbian and as far as i know(by reading) symbian is by far more stable then palm. the only thing going for palm is the wider software but that is gonna change as symbian controls the market.oh yeah and after view-ing some screenshots..palm has a nicer user interface but that doesn't count so much after the release of s60 3rd edition on the nokia's which looks pretty good.

by ty | Aug 25, 2006 11:50:25 AM

You all have said it without saying it direct.. I'll say it for you..

I'm scared!

Scared that the treo I love and hold dear,, isn't the best thing for me out there.. and although, technology will keep growing.. who doesn't want to say .. yup.. I paid for the best. When chances are.. you didn't. Any given company that makes a breakthrough, .. and makes megamillions by selling their product, should be readily prepared for competition.. how do you lead pda's one minute, and suddenly, become hopefully a top "ten" contender.. you got a headstart for god sakes'.. Treo needs to step up.. Point blank.. screen resolution, wi-fi, voice of ip software,(in beta testing for treo), better bluetooth, improved memory, bigger memory card acceptance, softer keyboard, improved camera, more stable programming, and ready-to-use out of the box software.. because I haven't found it yet.. but I'm looking for the made in china logo on this box with keys.. I'm certain almost absolutely positive, that it didn't cost them nearly 400 dollars to make this thing, when they can sale them for 20 dollars and a two year contract agreement.. regardless of how many sprint or verizon bought.. it doesn't add up to a 380 dollar discount.

and that's my 2 sided coin, rare, but accepted in all 50 states.

by Jamie | Jan 8, 2007 7:36:38 AM

We all use Nokia E61's in the office. They really arn't as great as everyone keeps going on about. One thing I think palm and the treo have really got right is that its about usability not features and stats.

The treo keyboard just feels great to type on and the screen looks great. Now that the treo750v has lost that horrible antenna it can almost compete with other phones on looks.

Also the Nokia E61 doesn't have a touch screen which totally rules it out for me. The nokia E61 is a pretty good phone though, E70 is better as a phone but we couldn't get Goodlink to work on it easily so I expect some apps that work on the E61 don't work on the E70 (which is stupid...)

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