The N78 is lighter than it looks, but feels too plastic and hollow. We'd happily pocket a few extra grams of phone for a little more solidity.
The design is smart, sensible and intuitive. There's a distinctive silver dedicated music key on the phone's fascia, and the mulitimedia applications can be accessed by the ying yang symbol.
Personal navigation is very intuitive on the N78, and the photo quality is excellent on the 3.2-megapixel camera thanks to Carl Zeiss optics and a decent flash.
The device features 260 minutes of talktime and 320 hous of standby time.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:53:52 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Great sat nav, camera, music player and web browsing.
The plastic rear casing feels a little flimsy and the keys are fiddly.
Another day, another new Nokia Nseries phone. Not that we’re complaining. There’s always plenty to keep you amused and entertained with these super-smart mini computers and, although the Nokia N78 is seen by many as a warm-up act for the forthcoming Nokia N96, it’s an impressive phone in its own right.
If the N78 looks vaguely familiar it’s because it’s a (slightly belated) follow up to the Nokia N73. Both handsets are ‘monoblock’ shaped, with a large display; however, the N78 is blacker, much faster for web surfing and downloads, and boasts built-in A-GPS with Nokia Maps for personal navigation.
The N78 is lighter than it looks, but also suffers from feeling too plastic and hollow. The front of the phone is solid enough, but the rear battery casing would benefit from some insulation to dull the echo when you tap it. We’d happily pocket a few extra grams of phone for a little more solidity.The other disappointment is the N78’s keypad, which essentially consists of four skinny bars without any key differentiation. It looks great and we like that you can only see the numbers when the phone is unlocked and activated (they light up), but key presses are just too fiddly.We were also thrown by the fact that you can’t answer the phone in the usual fashion – by pressing the central navigation key. We cancelled two incoming calls before realising that you have to press the green bar to receive a call. It’s more an observation than a criticism.Otherwise, the design is smart, sensible and intuitive. There’s a distinctive silver dedicated music key on the phone’s fascia, and the multimedia applications can be accessed by the ying yang symbol on the lower left of the keypad. Meanwhile, the dedicated camera key can be found on the phone’s right-hand side.A minor gripe is that the cancel key, which is universally used for deleting the last digit dialled or letter typed, is to the lower right of the keypad rather than just below the main display as is the norm. As a result, you may find that you’ll be cancelling calls, text messages and emails, rather than deleting the last digit or letter as intended.
After spending billions on acquiring digital mapping businesses recently, Nokia has shouted loud and often that sat nav would feature strongly on more of its top handsets, and the Nokia N78 is the latest Nseries phone to sport the technology.Personal navigation is very intuitive on the N78, whether you’re using it to plan a car journey, or whether you just want to find some local points of interest.To enjoy the phone’s personal navigation experience, open the Nokia Maps application and give the phone a moment to pick up your location. It’ll do this using A-GPS, which is a combination of GPS and the location-finding abilities of your mobile network – it’s faster and more accurate than regular GPS.Nonetheless, when we thought the phone had picked up our location we decided to find a local fast-food restaurant as a test run, and the N78 offered us a choice of Burger Kings in Berlin.Thankfully, this proved to be a blip. A couple of seconds later, the N78 had picked up our true position in Beckenham and we were able to search for points of interest to our heart’s content. Points of interest on the N78 are divided into categories such as Airport, Amusement Park, Architecture and so on. It’s then up to you to choose which categories you want to feature when you choose the ‘Nearby’ option after clicking on ‘Find place’.Knowing the area pretty well, all the local amenities and landmarks seemed to be present and correct. However, there were no restaurants listed under the Italian sub-menu, but two local Italians did crop up when we chose the ‘Search all’ option. We also found that all the fast-food listings were for Bromley rather than Beckenham.
This wasn’t a major problem, as in every other search, the application performed admirably.What’s more, when you find what you’re looking for, you can call directly by clicking the green call key when the restaurant, bar or amenity is highlighted, or by clicking select to find more information. You can also see where it is on the map and how to get there.As for navigation, once you’ve chosen your destination and the phone has located your current position via A-GPS, you’re away.The N78 gives you the option of following written instructions or by looking at a map, which, due to the added detail, requires a little more concentration.
The N78 sports a 3.2-megapixel camera, which is great fun to use. Click into camera mode via the side-mounted key and the display shifts automatically into landscape mode. Photo quality is excellent thanks to Carl Zeiss optics and a decent flash, although you don’t get the sliding lens cover that is featured on the N73.The video camera is also fun to use and shoots at 15fps. Whether, you’re viewing videos or photos, the phone is auto-set to present them in landscape format.As for music, you get a very capable player with a dedicated music key, clear music management and a 3.5mm port that accepts most stereo headphones. You also get album art and direct access to Nokia’s excellent online music downloads store.
The Nokia N78 has plenty going for it, but we were a little surprised to find that it’s not compatible (yet) with Nokia’s impressive N-Gage games platform. We were under the impression that all new Nseries phones would be N-Gage enabled, but, apparently you’re going to have to wait until Nokia releases the N78 version of the N-Gage client.However, to put the boot into the N78 for not letting you play FIFA 08 would be a tad unfair as this phone scores on most levels.