Nokia’s E63 joins the successful E71 to form a compelling QWERTY messaging device range. Unlike the more expensive E71 (around £269), the E63 (around £199 SIM-free) is a budget business phone. Although very similar to the E71 in terms of form factor, its body is made of plastic instead of steel. Most of the specifications are the same as the E71, except for the lack of GPS, a second camera for video conferencing, and HSDPA.

On the plus side, its keypad has been modified and improved. The E63 operates in exactly the same way as the E71 as it runs Symbian 9.2 S60 version 3.2 software, however the new touch sensitive Navi-Wheel which encircles the traditional D-pad makes it even easier to flip between menus and programs. Battery life has been upped to a whopping 432 hours standby and 11 hours talktime, improving slightly on the E71. The phone is also available in a choice of consumer-friendly colours: ruby red or ultramarine blue.

Pitched at the same business users as the flagship E71, the E63 is designed for those who need to manage their business and personal lives equally well. People use Nokia’s E series handsets primarily to access their corporate e-mail, review their calendar and work in their business network, so the E63 still includes 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, easy access to Mail for Exchange and dedicated key access to contacts, calendar and e-mail. All the main protocols including IMAP4, POP3 and Exchange are supported, but sadly Blackberry Connect isn’t.

A really handy feature is the ability to switch modes from a view of corporate e-mail, appointments and intranet data, to a personal mode with a picture of friends, personal e-mail and shortcuts to favourite hobby blogs or Web sites. With the E63 you can enjoy the Web, update your status and work meaningfully with multiple e-mail accounts easily. It also includes a free 12-month subscription ‘Files on Ovi’, a service where you can remotely access your PC files even when your computer is offline. Anyone buying the handset will have access to 1GB of online file storage.

When you’re done with work the E63 lets you record and view images and videos with the 2-Megapixel digital camera (3.2-Megapixel on the E71) and 2.4-inch QVGA landscape display, listen to music downloaded from the Nokia Music Store, or a number of other sources thanks to FM radio, (standard 3.5mm audio jack), or customise the device through the thousands of applications available for download. There’s a micro-USB port for syncing data with your computer, but you still can’t charge the handset over USB, which is annoying. A microSD card slot lets you add extra storage, should you get carried away with your photography.

Powered by a 369MHz ARM processor and 128MB of SDRAM, the E63 is a great addition to Nokia’s range and is perfect for anyone not wanting HSDPA or gadgets such as GPS, but preferring a focused e-mail device which can handle some entertainment if need be. Given the success of the E71, we see no reason why the E63 should be any different, potentially swaying users who don’t fancy learning a BlackBerry operating system or the E71’s higher price. While it doesn’t have the all-round feature set and finesse of the E71 (it looks less serious), the E63 delivers an almost identical experience so is therefore excellent value for money.