Nokia N78: My initial thoughts

28. August 2008 at 13:31

A few days ago I received the Nokia N78. Today I want to share my initial thoughts about the device with you.

Design & Formfactor

The N78 is a very good-looking candybar phone. It has a black, glossy surface and rounded corners. The numeric keypad is made of four small lines that are higher than the rest of the surface. The D-pad and the multimedia-key are also higher than the rest, they’re silver and so they fit very good with the rest. The right and left selection-key, the clear-key, the menu-key as well as the call- and end-key are in one level with the black surface and so you need to press on the surface to press one of those keys. The side of the phone is made out of continuous bronze-coloured plastic. The back is also glossy and it’s available in different colours like brown or white. The camera- and the volume-key are silver as the D-pad and the multimedia-key.


The N78 features a 3.2 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics. To start the camera-application you can go to the menu and choose camera or just press down the camera-key for a while. The autofocus of the N78 is very fast and a photo is captured in less than three seconds (time to focus included). One very great feature of the N78’s camera is that you don’t need to choose close-up mode if you want to make a macro-image, the autofocus cognizes if you’re making a normal photo or a close-up photo. The flash of the N78 is a normal LED-flash known from the N95, but it is very bright and so you can also capture photos in bad light conditions.


Nokia has build two speakers into the N78. They’re placed on the right and the left side of the phone. The speker on the right side is on the top and the speaker on the left side is on the bottom. The speakers aren’t that loud as the ones from the N95, but they’re quite good. One thing I miss in comparison with the N95 is the stereo-sound. The speakers sound some kind of “mono” and not stereo. But all in all I like the speakers in the N78, maybe Nokia can improve the sound in an upcoming firmware, so that they sound like they have more “power”.

Build Quality

The build quality of the device isn’t that good. The backcover is moving up and down and if you press on it, it makes noise. If you press on the sides of the device it’s also creaking. Sometimes the selection keys don’t work and this is very annoying. Since the whole body of the N78 is made out of plastic it gets scratches very fast – especially the backside. If Nokia want to make the device feeling more nobly they should think about creating a front of glass like on the iPhone.


The device runs on S60 3rd Edition and so it’s very user-friendly. It has Feature Pack 2 and so there are some improvements making the device more customizable and making the menu to eye-candy with some nice looking transitions in the menus. The D-pad has an included naviwheel which is a great “toy”. Sometimes the naviwheel does not work properly and it’s not very exact, here’s also the need for improvements in the upcoming firmware-updates. The small numeric keypad is easy to use once you are used to it.


The GPS-antenna is in the backcover, which means that you can’t use the GPS without the backcover. As far as I have tested the GPS it takes a long time to get a satellite-fix. But once there is a connection you won’t lost it that fast.


With the N78 Nokia has introduced a new feature in mobile-phones: The FM-transmitter. The FM-transmitter is a feature that enables the user to stream his music to the radio via radio-waves. You can choose the frequency by yourself and then you just need to search for the choosed frequency on your radio. I have tested this feature in the car of my father and it worked properly without abruptions.

My impression of the N78 so far:

The N78 is another Nseries mid-class device of the N7x-series. It has a nice design with some nice “toys” like the naviwheel or the FM-transmitter. The camera is very great, especially the fact that it cognizes if you want to make a close-up shot or a normal shot, I’d like to see this feature as well in some other phones like the N95 or the N95 8GB – I think Nokia could to this with a new firmware. I also like the small and light form of the phone – compared to other Nseries devices it’s very small but it does have all the things known from other multimedia computers. The bad points are that the phone is made out of cheap-feeling plastic and that the backcover is creaking and shaking. One fact I really hate is that the phone will get scratches very fast – to be honest I don’t like phones that are looking bad because it shows that the owner doesn’t pay much attention to his or her phone.

[original article]