N96 and N78 exclusive hands-on

11. May 2008 at 17:28

I finally managed to get my hands-on these fabulous devices and ask few questions on this and that. I’ve compared the N96, N78, N82 black, N95 8GB, and the N81 8GB. It took some effort to present the differences, and I managed to get everyone staring at me like I was a maniac.

Below you can notice the dimensions comparison between all those phones mentioned above. From the top: N95 8GB, N78, N82 Black, N96, N81 8GB N81 8GB, N96 (thanks to everyone who pointed out this mistake).

From top N95 8GB, N78, N82 Black, N96, N81 8GB

An obvious observation here is that the N95 8GB is the thickest of them all, while the N96 and N95 8GB seem to be the widest thanks to their 2.8″ display.All the phones have the 3.5mm jack on top, while only the N81 8GB and N96 have the lock switch. The N78 and N82 Black don’t have the USB port or the charging port on the bottom.

N78 notes

Notice anything different between the image with the keypad backlight lit and the one that’s not lit? This innovative and amazing design with all black seems to hide some of the keys and make the device look superslick. A small but fantastic detail.

The keypad seems to have a gap next to the green key (call key), and according to Henri Mattila, it’s so that people don’t press keys by mistake. I kept on pressing it, as my finger recognized it as the Menu key, but the Menu key is on the left side of the numeric keypad. The keypad in general, you just have to get used to it, it isn’t as bad as it looks, the keys are well rised and your fingers can differentiate. Henri even proposed a competition and said he could type on the N78 faster than ANY of us on OUR phones

As you can see the navi-wheel is slightly lifted up, and that gives a good feeling to finger for scrolling. The last gallery item button has been removed, and no to access the gallery, the most recommended way is pressing the multimedia key.

There are two pairs of pins. One is at the left of the SIM card slot, and the other is above the camera flash. These make noise if you remove the back cover and shake the phone.

The software is the best part! The N78 runs on Symbian OS9.3 with S60 v3.2 Feature Pack 2. This Feature Pack 2 brings much more than email functionality as previously announced. It has splendid transitions and animations, which means that you don’t have to wait for Touch UI! The future is here with this Feature Pack! I really don’t have words to describe how unexpected and cool this is. If you go into a new “window”, for example a new folder, there is a Fade Smoothly transition, like those found in Microsoft PowerPoint. It’s even better than Windows Vista animations, as you really feel the futuristic detail. The same to selections, if you are on the Menu or anywhere else, if you move through the icons, the selection icon also has a futuristic feel. If there is a reason to buy the N78, this is one of the best. The camera animation is even better, and it was shown to us be Matilla himself. If you hold on to the camera button, it activates the application, but in order to change to landscape mode, the portrait display goes inside, turns 90 degrees, and comes back to the fullscreen.

The same can’t be said about the N96, the firmware was very early and extremely buggy, while on the N78, everything was smooth. The navi-wheel was another highlight of the phone. It worked even on the Menu, and probably when it is released as a production model, there will be much more to it.

I enquired about the lack of the lock switch, and Henri affirmed that it fits better and is rather appropriate to slider phones, and that’s why it’s not included in this one. I also asked about speaker positioning. There’s one on top right lateral part, and one in bottom left, which is a rather awkward combination. Henri stated that the N78 is made to be hold with a hand, so audio will flow better with that speaker positioning.

Another program I noticed included in the phone was Message Reader, which should read SMSes by voice, which is quite useful for drivers or if you just don’t feel like looking to your phone.

Last but not least, the SPMark for the N78 was 950.

N96 notes

At the right N96 N81 8GB, and at the left the N81 8GB N96. It’s not just the display that’s bigger, but there are few minor changes in cosmetics on the front. The keys are slightly separated, and the multimedia key is smaller. The navi-wheel is made thinner and higher so that it feels good to the finger.

Here it’s noticeable that the N81 8GB and N96 don’t differ much on thickness.

The N96 has a larger camera button, which is better for capturing and autofocus. Another change is the speaker placement. The N96 has a new speaker positioning, which is drives sound better if the phone is kept on the kickstand according to Matilla, and I truly agree with him.

The N96 has definitely a better keypad. Besides having wider keys, there are visual separations between them, and it’s much more “typeable” than the N81’s keypad. The slider itself feels like a mix between the N81’s and N95’s slider, not too rough, not too springy.

These pictures show the difference on the N96 camera when compared to the N818GB. They are both very similar, although the N96’s one is quite larger, as well as the dual flash. There are lines around the camera which supposedly are simple cosmetic details.

The memory card slot on the N96 is quite difficult to open without fingernails.

For some technical reason, the N96’s battery is placed laterally and not in a normal position such as the N81. It uses the BL-5F with 950mAH, same as the Nokia N95.

The above pictures show the N96 sitting on its kickstand.

The flash is quite intense, and stronger than any camera flash I have seen, besides Xenon flash. The LED gets quite hot, so I’m not sure if recording for long will damage any internal circuitry.

The glossy surface leaves a lot of marks, especially fingerprints.

The multimedia keys feel excellent as they are quite large, and there are two gaming buttons, one sitting with the Play button, and the other with the Stop button. There seems to be some light leaking from the sides, although I don’t know if this is on purpose.

The N95 8GBs multimedia keys are considerably smaller than the N96’s. The kickstand feels really useful, and we miss it on the N95. We have never noticed the kickstand feature, but now that we have it, it really seems useful for multimedia playback or other features. The N96 is very loud when it comes to music or video, possibly one of the loudest phones in the market. The video player can play the files from beginning or from where you left the video last time.

The N96’s camera and flash seem to be quite larger than the N95 8GB. The N95 has a round outline to it, while the N96 has an oval outline to it, where the kickstand resides.

The software installed was quiet weak, one of the devices wasn’t working, while all others would crash often. The navi-wheel had no functionality.

A new feature in both these phones was the task switcher option in all applications. Whenever you press the left soft key, you could call the task switcher.

The SPMark wouldn’t install, so I cannot get you a score, and I could take videos either as the video recording application would crash after two seconds of recording.

More inside on these NSeries soon as I publish my interview with Henri Mattila, but for now please appreciate the interview with Alex Lambeek, VP for entry-level devices at Nokia.

Original article