With more multimedia-toting smart phones entering the market, Nokia's N-series is certainly less lonely than it was when it launched. Two years ago, handsets such as the Nokia N73 were topping the charts. Can Nokia repeat the same success with the Nokia N78 in today's feverish smart phone market?
The Nokia N78 is available SIM-free for around £300 and will be available shortly for free on a monthly contract.
The Nokia N78's design harks back to the candy-bar roots of the first N-series phones. But while this design reminds us of the two-year-old N73, the N78 is much thinner than its predecessor and its glossy front and silver, curved border stands in line with Nokia's new design direction. We like the different approach, but some people have said they prefer the older, more boxy look of the N95. Preferences aside, one sure thing is that the glossy surfaces make it a fingerprint magnet and there's plenty of flat space to leave smudges.
The cancel, menu, send and end keys are flat but click when you push them, making them easy to use. Instead of a standard four-way navigation key, the N78's navigation key can be used like an iPod's scroll wheel. It works well for speeding through long lists, such as contacts or music tracks, but it's not very accurate when you move slowly. The navigation key is also fiddly to press up, down, left or right and detracts from the overall user experience.
One of the most interesting design features on the N78 is its keypad, which is made up of four horizontal lines. It looks like it shouldn't work well, but it's surprisingly easy to type on and much better than the N73's. Our only issue with the keypad area is that the cancel key is on the bottom right of the N78, which feels unusual compared to its normal location up at the top; fortunately, you do get use to it after a while.
The N78 is like the N82's thinner cousin, boasting almost all of the same features. You'll notice when you start using the N78 that although it runs on S60 3rd edition, Nokia has tweaked the interface slightly so that it looks more flashy. When you go from one app to another, for example, there are transitional effects with an Apple OS X feel to them.
But it's not just about a fancy interface. HSDPA (3.5G) and Wi-Fi help you stay connected to the Internet almost everywhere you go and you can download third-party apps such as the Opera Mini browser for a desktop-like browsing experience.