Described by some as a Nokia N96 lite, can the N78 prove its worth on its own merits? We get playing and dialling to find out.
The Nokia N78 is a candy bar handset that packs in plenty of features. The design itself is simple, glossy and very black. The real estate on the front of the handset is split almost 50/50 between the screen and the keyboard, although the keyboard doesn't feature regular keys.
Below a central d-pad, the keys, which are aligned in four thin strips, are hidden beneath the design and then appear out of the void like shining beacons when any key is pressed. The result is a minimalist design that is highlighted by accents of silver, as the designers would no doubt say.
Elsewhere on the handset, buttons are kept simple. There is the now almost default shutter button on the side to control the digital camera, volume controls, a 3.5mm jack for connecting your headphones and a fiddly microSD card slot that reveals an included 2GB card.
Controlling the phone and moving around the menus and interface is mainly done by the d-pad that is a combination of a traditional d-pad and scroll wheel (like the iPod) that allows you to skip through the menu or playlist quickly.
While on paper it might have sounded like a great idea, it's not pretty or that easy to use. We were frustrated by this because our selection moved just as we pressed the d-pad to confirm that selection. This resulted in going into the wrong application and at times having to wait while the phone had worked out what it was doing.
It might be handy for scrolling through playlists (it's the same circular movement as the iPod click wheel) we just aren't so sure elsewhere, especially as it's so small and therefore not as easy to use as the click wheel.
Then there is the random silver button (there is normally one on a Nokia handset) that fires you into the scroll interface so you can access your music, games and other Nokia Ovi centric services in a menu interface that is slightly different from the other main menu interface. We aren't sure why Nokia persists with two menu interfaces, but as always it's confusing.
Get past the somewhat clumsy phone controls and you've got your standard S60 interface that lets you access all the usual Nokia goodies and this being Nokia there are plenty of goodies.
There is HSDPA and Wi-Fi connectivity for surfing the Internet quickly; GPS and AGPS to find your way; a 3.2-megapixel camera on the back complete with flash and another on the front for 3G video calling; Nokia standard, but good music player; geotagging capabilities via the GPS; an FM transmitter so you can get you music onto a nearby radio; and the usual array of Nokia/Symbian applications to boot.
All work well, all easy to use, from a software perspective and all make this a feature packed offering on the spec sheet.
The Nokia N78 is yet another phone from Nokia that Nokia fans will be happy with.
While there is nothing earth-shatteringly bad about the N78, for us a clumsy interface detracts from the abundance, and we mean abundnace, of features this handset offers.