Review: Nokia N79

31. December 2008 at 13:35

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The Nokia N79 is a S60 powered candybar device. It’s S60’s smallest device but how about its advantages, disadvantages and day to day use? This review will answer all these questions!

Main advantages:

  • FM-Transmitter
  • 5-megapixel camera with Dual LED and autofocus
  • Strong battery
  • Size
  • 3 Xpress covers in the box

Main disadvantages:

  • Thin keys


Sales package:

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Surprisingly, the N79 comes in a new, small box, other than the huge boxes of the N96, N95 or other older devices. This already shows the size we can expect from the N79. Here we have the content of the box:

  • Nokia N79 (RM-348)
  • Battery with 1600mAh (BL-6F)
  • In total 3 Xpress-on back covers
  • 4GB microSDHC card
  • micro-USB cable (CA-101)
  • Charger (AC-100)
  • Headset (HS-45)
  • Remote-Control (AD-64)
  • N-Gage guide plus an activation code
  • Ovi guide
  • N79 DVD-Software
  • First steps sheet
  • Manual

Besides the big 4GB microSD card and the 3 Xpress covers there is nothing special in the box. Indeed, I missed the TV-Out cable. Seeing that there is no TV-Out cable in the box I thought that the N79 doesn’t support this function. However, when using the TV-Out cable of the N96 with the N79 I found out that the N79 is ”TV-Out ready”. So it’s pretty strange Nokia didn’t include a TV-Out cable although the N79 featues this function. Anyway, the accessories aren’t special but they are better than we can found with other devices. Here the full unboxing video:

Build quality:
Seeing the Nokia N79 in the internet I didn’t like the design that much. However, after holding it in my hands I really liked it and my like has been growing day by day. As you can see, the N79 is a simple candybar device and like most N-Series devices the N79 is also build mainly out of plastic. Despite this fact the device feels nobly which is also caused by the chrome frame. The silver and white combination really evoke a stylish, fresh and nobly feeling. The whole device, included the Xpress backvcocer feels really solid. Pressing on both, the right and the left side of the device, there is no creaking noise. The keys are very stable and they don’t shake.
Size:
The Nokia N79 measures 110 x 49 x 15mm. Due to this size the Nokia N79 is really handy and is one of the smallest S60 devices I’ve ever seen. I love its form factor and the size. It fits perfect in every pocket and feels great in the hand. Although it’s that small and handy it nevertheless has all the features you need. From GPS, WiFi, a 5 megapixel camera and more there is everything you can find in the modern devices. Here you can see a comparison to some other devices:

Keys:

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On the front of the N79 you can find 24 keys. 12 of them belong to the usual numeric keypad. The other 12 keys are:

  1. Left soft key
  2. Right soft key
  3. Red-end key
  4. Green-answer key
  5. Clear key
  6. ”The Anssi Key” – Multimedia key
  7. Menu key
  8. OK, the middle of the d-pad
  9. Up on the d-pad
  10. Down on the d-pad
  11. Left on the d-pad
  12. Right on the d-pad

There are two kinds of keysorts on the front. For one, five thin keys and than the usual big keys. The pressure point of the keys on the front is good. However, you need to get used to the thin keys but this will come soon. The numerickeypad is one level with the whole device but nevertheless the usage of these keys is great. The d-pad has a navi wheel integrated, which allows the user to scroll through the menus with just circling around the key (maybe you know it from the iPod’s – they have the same feature). This feature works pretty good – much better than in the N81 or in the N85.
Besides these 24 keys, the N79 has also other keys on the side and on the top of the device.

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On the top you can find the S60 typical power button as well as the key-switch. This button has three functions:

  • Turning on the device
  • Switching of the device
  • Choosing a profile (eg. ‘’Outdoor’’)

The key-switch doesn’t operate like you are maybe used to it from your iPod. You have to flick it to lock it and flick it once again to unlock it. This key-switch indeed is handy and easy to use.DSCF0318 by you.

On the left hand side we have the volume key to adjust the volume and to zoom in and out and also the capture button for starting the recording or for capture pictures.

Multimedia:
The N79 has 50MB internal memory and comes along with a 4GB microSD card which is enough for music, pictures, videos and other data. Of course you can also use other microSD or even microSDHC cards if you need more memory. In the test my 8GB microSDHC card worked without problems. The slot for the microSD card is placed on the left hand side and is protected really good. N79’s 2.4 ” QVGA ( 240 x 320 pixels) screen displays the 16M colours very well. It’s really bright and you can read it also against sunlight. Thanks to the built in accelerometer API the display rotates smoothly when you turn the N79. This is really useful for viewing pictures or for browsing.

Camera:

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On the back of the N79 you can find a 5 Megapixel camera with autofocus, Dual LED flash and Carl Zeiss optics. The N79 is a multimedia computer and so it’s also a full camera. It offers a bunch of camera preferences. After you opened the camera-application by opening the camera protection you can see a toolbar on the right side. In this toolbar you can find a bunch of icons – switching from camera to video mode and back, scene modes, flash mode, self timer, sequence mode, go to photos.

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However, you can customise your toolbar and remove some shortcuts or add some like for example viewfinder, light sensitivity and more. Opening the Scenes modes you can choose between Auto mode, User defined, Close up, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night and Night Portraits. So, all in all you have a lot of preferences so that you can get the best out of every situation in which you want to take a picture.

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Of course, just like a real camera, the Nokia N79 can record videos as well. It records videos with VGA ( 640×480) resolution which looks really good on the TV, PC and of course on the handset. Thanks to the Dual LED you also can take videos in bad light conditions as these two LED light up your whole environment pretty well.

Music:
Nokia Nseries – That’s the name of products advertised as “multimedia computers”. The N79 is also such a multimedia computer. As such a device designed for multimedia it needs the ability of music-playback. Of course the N79 does have this. It has two speakers, both on the left hand side of the device. The volume is adjustable with the volume-key on the right side. The N79’s volume is good, but not as good as the N95’s or the N96’s.
On the top you have a 3.5mm which allows you to plug in almost every headphones you like. Being your white iPod headphones or your in-ear Sennheiser headphones. The provided headset is good but using Sennheiser, iPod, Sony or other headphones you can improve the soundquality tremendously. The Nokia N79 has the normal music-player which comes on every S60 3rd Edition device. If you go to “music player” in the menu you first will get seven menu’s, like “all songs”, ”Podcasts” or “artists” to choose from. This kind of sorting is clearly arranged.
To improve the music quality, you have an equaliser with 6 modes – Default, Bass booster, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Rock. The music player supports following audiofiles: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, MP4, M4A, WMA, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, Mobile XMF, SP-MIDI, MIDI Tones (poly 64), RealAudio 7,8,10, True tones and WAV.

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One of my favorite features of the N79 is the built in FM-Transmitter. Using this FM-Transmitter you can stream your music to any FM-receiver around you. Being your car-radio, radio in the bath or anywhere else. Here a video explaining this function in more detail:

More over, the N79 has an Radio application built in. Opening this application you can decide whether you’d like to use Internet Radio which allows you to browse online and to listen to hundreds of online radio stations available worldwide or to use the classic FM-Radio. However, first you need to plug in your Headset to listen to FM-Radio, as the FM-Receiver is built in the headset.

Connectivity:
Like we are already used to it from previous Nseries devices the Nokia N79 also offers a lot in terms of connectivity ways. For going online you have Wireless Lan, HSDPA, 3G, EDGE and GPRS. For the connection to your computer you find the now standard Nokia microUSB port on the left hand site as well as Bluetooth. WiFi, Bluetooth, GPRS, microSD and 3G worked well in our test and we didn’t had any issues. You don’t need to install Nokia PC Suite in order to connect but it would be really useful to install it as it brings a couple of great features such as saving all your data on the pc, synchronization, software update and some more functions.

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The pre-installed web browser handles every website, being mobile or html. Even flash videos like YouTube aren’t a problem for the N79. Flash videos van even been play back in full screen. Due to little helps like the minimap you always knows where you are and browsing becomes really easy. To be up to date you can also subscribe to tons of RSS feeds and read them on the N79.
Nowadays almost every Nseries phone has an integrated GPS (Global Positioning System). The N79 also features GPS. The application to use it is called “Nokia Maps” and it’s pre-installed on the device. You can get the maps by downloading it on the N79 itself or using Nokia Maps Loader. You can navigate for free without voice-instructions. If you want to have voice-guided navigation you will need to purchase a license. Of course you can also use other navigationsystems such as Route66 without problem. The device supports A-GPS and bluetooth-GPS as well as the integrated GPS. Assisted GPS (A-GPS) enables the user to get his location faster via an internet-connection. With the bluetooth-GPS feature you can use an external GPS-Antenna via bluetooth with your device.

Business:

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A multimedia computer, that is what Nokia calls their products like the N79. In a special Office folder you can find several office application. These applications are:

  • Adope PDF
  • Converter
  • Zip
  • Quickoffice
  • Notes

Adope PDF is a simple PDF viewer without any special functions. Zip lets you open and create zip files. The pre-installed Quick Office application is rather simple. So it just allows viewing Word, Exel and Power Point files. Unfortunately editing these files or creating new files isn’t possible without upgrading your version what isn’t for free . The calender is simple but nevertheless really powerful so you can create new appointments, events, memo, to-do or anniversary with a lot information. Due to the power of S60 you can download and install further business application very easily.

Usage:

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The N79 runs on S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 which offers a lot improvements and addition in terms of usability and personalisation. Thus this is the perfect platform for a device like the N79. As a result of various polls S60 totally improved the Task-manager. Either you open it via the traditional way (long press on the menu-key) or you go to the menu, click opinions and choose ”Show open apps”. More over, it’s more obvious that now you can open applications by clicking on the central soft key. I have to confess, that I can’t judge this category that good because I’m a S60 user for some years. However, for a new user it’s pretty tricky to find into the menu. I’ve seen a lot user pressing the navigation key to get access to the menu which is the wrong way. After pressing the home key you can find plenty of icons and some folders. The icons already say what they stand for and furthermore you can read the application’s name. If you don’t like the menu structure you can create new folders, delete some, move the application as you like or change the menu view from Grid to a List or other modes. Furthermore, you can choose between several standard themes and hundreds more which are in the World Wide Web. For those with bad eyes you can also change the front size. The N79 has a ARM 11 369 MHz CPU. Nice transitions, which are switched off by default, make the menu even nicer. More over, you can totally customize your home screen. Having a horizontal, vertical or no toolbar with the most important applications are up to you, just like the colour of your theme, or your shortcuts.
Special features:

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One special feature is that the N79 comes with three Xpress covers out of the box. These covers have a kind of a chip so that the N79 recognize which cover is used. If you’re using the green cover the theme will become green. If you now take the blue cover it will change to the blue theme. This feature is pretty cool but there is no real use, but it’s still cool and a good gimmick. Of course you can turn this function of. Here a video showing this function:

Verdict:

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To sum up, the really handy Nokia N79 offers a bunch of features. A 5 megapixel camera with Dual LED flash, GPS, full webbrowser and much more. It is the perfect device for a user which wants many multimedia-features under a sexy housing. With the different Xpress-on covers the device is very customizable and get’s a much more individual appearance. Running on Symbian S60 the device is open to new applications, themes and much more things that can be found all over the internet.
We’ve tested the device with software version 10.0.046.

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