Really Mobile review: Nokia's N79

by Vikki Chowney on 16th June 2009

As you all heard a little while back, while my trusty E71 is off being fixed, I’ve been playing with the N79. I’ve never used an Nseries phone as my primary handset before, so it’s been interesting test, especially considering that the candybar design doesn’t immediately appeal.

An unsung hero?

The N79: An unsung hero?

Style-wise, it does comes with two smart covers for the rear of the phone, which once fitted automatically changes the active theme (if you can take the original one off without breaking your fingers in the first place).

However, I was assured by at least some of the team that this handset was an ‘unsung hero’ and that I just needed to give it chance. It was released late last year, but neither the stores nor Nokia itself have been pushing it hard (in the UK at least), so it’s missed out on a lot of the promotion that comes as part of being a network’s handset of choice.

Phrases like ‘nice little camera’ and ‘that’s actually a great phone’ were thrown about, so considering that it’s half the price of the (not that great) N96, but has almost all of the same features – I thought I’d give it a fair try.

One of the first things to note is that it’s an evolution of the N78 in a really good way. It has a better camera for starters, but also has a bigger and more structured keypad.

The camera zoom is a little slow, but quality is pretty good (discounting the ‘front shot’ camera, but I can forgive that because they all are). The keys, yes, are a big improvement from the N78, but they were tough straight out of the box and didn’t get much better as time went on.

I was also intrigued by the iPod-esque ‘click wheel’ function, but it was very up and down. Scrolling through my images was hectic, with said wheel only responding in short bursts as and when it felt like it.

The weight is a both a huge plus and a negative point, as at just 97g, it weighs less than any other Nseries currently on the market. However, the weight of my E71 means that it feels likes a solid, meaningful piece of kit, whereas the N79 does feel a little like it fell out of a cracker.

I also found the accelerometer far too sensitive, it doesn’t charge via USB and the GPS performance is not the best amongst the Nseries phones. However, for all of my obvious disappointment above, as I was promised, the Nokia N79 is certainly one of the best-equipped bars on the market.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there is very little (and certainly nothing that’s important) that the phone lacks.

It provides good call quality, robust web browsing and is especially impressive at multimedia playback. In this respect, it’s much better than I expected, with acceptable Flash support in the browser and a wide range of music features. In other ways (like the inferior messaging options), I was let down.

So, my opinion overall is that it’s just a so-so handset, it outperforms some of the larger, more expensive Nseries phones, but there’s nothing that makes me go ‘wow’.

And certainly nothing that would make me give up my E71.

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