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, 07-22-2008 at 07:22 PM (14985 Views)
Nokia N78 Review

well kiddos, i've spent some time with a pre-release version of the Nokia N78, (thanks again to and I can honestly say that I'm impressed, mainly because I'm a cheap bastard and wouldn't shell out $500 for a phone. I also decided since it's not mine to hand the phone to random strangers and gauge reactions. I also tried this with dogs, a circus peanut, and a statue of the terminator...they seemed less impressed.

First off let's start with some quick specs:

-Quad band GSM, HSPDA (u.s. and euro variants, I demo'ed the euro)
-3.2MP camera with autofocus, carl zeiss optics
-GPS, voice guidance with subscription
-Nav wheel, ala Ipod
-3.5mm headset jack
-FM stereo transmitter
-love that only a mother can give

at first glance, what sticks out with most people is the unusual keypad. The keypad design is actually pretty elegant for a phone that still uses an actual keypad, if you can even call it that. I may invent a new word for weird Nokia keyboards ala Nokia 3600. I can't think of anything witty at the moment so moving on... When the lights kick off it looks pretty flush and streamlined. The keypad is a double edged sword though, the design making it hard to type out by feel, although it gets easier as time goes by. The send/end/soft keys are flush with the phone though and make it impossible to accurately push the right one 100% of the time. The D-pad is great though, rocking nicely and feeling made for my thumb, but yet again Nokia added the much ballyhooed "Nav-Wheel", almost like an Ipod. You can't adjust the sensitivity though, so when you are trying to use the D-pad, you end up all over the screen. This can be turned off, which is the way it ended up after the 2nd day of use. There is also dedicated music key next to the end button, an up/down key for volume and dedicated camera button on the side; and a power button on the top.

The first thing you notice when you start using the phone is the snappy menus. Almost everyone who played with the phone loved the speed of the UI, transitioning from different screens to programs fairly quickly. The animated icons and themes also received many kudos.
I would go as far and say that I've not used a smartphone with a faster UI, and I've used just about every OS available. (except the very snobbish UIQ)

The phone also feels good in your hand, many people liked the size and the smoothness of the phone (although it might be too slippery for my taste). Although I liked the size and the feel of the phone in my hand, the build quality felt a little to plastic, especially the back cover which felt like it would pop off or break...and it did pop off a couple of times.

I'll try to keep a bit on the positive side from here out, the best thing about the phone is of course what it was originally built for, talking. The sound quality is actually really good, callers on the other end also claimed the sound to be good. The speakerphone was so-so, sounding a bit tinny out of the speakers, and I found that I was having to speak into the top of the phone for people to hear me clearly, but not unusable. I dropped signal only twice, so I would say signal is good for what I'm used to, I've only gotten better from a RAZR2 and a Nokia E62. Too bad those phones sucked

The camera takes pretty good pics in good lighting, I took a few at a lake trip I recently went on this weekend. Check em out: The pictures in darker lighting were not as good unless you switch to night mode which helped quite a bit. The flash was very bright and can be used to light up a room, or blind your wife so she doesn't get the last taquito. I also posted a video, which wasn't too bad, but isn't as good as the Nokia N95, only recording at 15fps. The usual fare in options are there, contrast, color, white balance, and the standard scene modes. (potrait, night mode etc...)
Although I was impressed with the camera, it didn't seem to be much better than my N73 photo wise although opening the camera app and shutter speed were much faster. I did like the fact that you can tag your position, and upload strait to Ovi or Flickr directly from the handset.

The music player is suprisingly good, the sound is pretty clean over the headphones. Nokia is starting to understand that media-centric phones not only need to sound good, but also be able to use good headphones thanks the build in 3.5mm adapter. (please nokia make this a standard feature) The stereo speakers also produced a pretty good sound, although it sounds a little distorted at the highest volumes. Womworld included a pair of Nokia Mini MD-4 speakers, which are actually pretty cool, the problem is they don't get much louder than the speakers on the phone so I'm not sure why you would carry them with an N78. I really like the music player, although still not and Ipod replacement, it's really good for an all in one device.

Another cool addition that ties in with the music player is the FM transmitter. I'm not sure why other media phones haven't thought of this in the past, but oh well. If you've ever used an FM transmitter you have a good idea of what to expect, getting decent but not great sound quality. Overall it wasn't a bad experience, it probably would of been much better if I could find a station that didn't fight for signal with the actual radio. Maybe an AM transmitter next time? LOL Also I would add, scary voice recording + FM tuner + friends car = prank opportunity.

On my drive to the lake this weekend I also tested out the GPS, which worked swimmingly! (I was at the lake, get it, okay stick to my day job...which is not reviewing phones) The GPS picked up in about 5 seconds after I started Nokia Maps, and the voice guided navigation was pretty accurate. I didn't spend much time with this, because my friend Bud Light convince me to stay in the same place for much of the weekend.

While I was there I tested out the WiFi, which connected fairly quickly and allowed surfing on the built in Nokia browser at high speed. No hand offs between EDGE and WiFi though, you get a popup asking you how you want to connect when you lose signal. I like the updates to the new nokia browser...did I mention you can see flash videos built into the browser? No more watching youporn youtube just from your PC! I still don't think the built in browser is as fast as Opera Mini, but some of yous guys swear by it...of course Opera Mini doesn't do youporn youtube either so color me converted. EDGE speeds are slightly faster than my N73, although the difference is probably in the processor. There are rumors that there will be a North American 3G version, let's hope so!

Speaking of WiFi, I'm diggin the Home Media sharing setup. I was able to setup and stream music, compatible vids, and pics to and from my home network.

Overall I digg the phone, I like the features, the UI, and definitely dig the look. The major drawback is going to be the keypad, you have to sort of retrain your way of typing, and you'll never get used to hitting the send/end/soft keys. The features outweigh the keypad IMO, definitely worth a look at least if you're searching for a replacement phone for the that has a slew of added features and a much faster UI. Would I buy one? Definitely..if I wasn't waiting for the damn E71 to come out.

Updated 07-24-2008 at 08:31 AM by xj911

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  1. Ellen's Avatar
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    Great review XJ. The keypad looks a little small, otherwise I like looks of it.

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