Nokia N78 review: Bitter sweet

GSMArena team, 11 June 2008.
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Retail package brings nice surprises

The retail package of Nokia N78 fares pretty well in terms of content. The 2GB microSD card is a nice thingy to start with. There is also a microUSB cable included.

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The generous retail package

The wired handsfree unit is quite stylish (there you go) and comes in two parts. That enables you to separate the remote and use another set of headphones. The box also holds a whole bunch of manuals and a quick start guide introducing you to the phone's main features. A PC sync software CD is the last addition to the generous retail box.

Nokia N78 360-degree spin

The Nokia N78 bar measures 113 x 49 x 15.1mm. Even if it doesn't sound that bulky, in reality the phone is slightly on the hefty side. With the huge number of features aboard however, we aren't really put down by size. Furthermore, the weight of 101.8g won't tear a hole in your pocket either.

Design and construction

Designwise Nokia N78 is obviously inspired (shall we say infected) by Nokia N81. Well, it's no secret that we are not in love with those looks and we hardly miss an opportunity to say it out loud.

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Nokia N78 follows Nokia N81's design

Nokia N78 is finished in glossy black at the front and dark brown at the back. The best part of the casing is the brushed light brown surface at the sides. A few metal accents here and there wouldn't have hurt but the materials are still fine as they are.

A major issue with the glossy plastic is fingerprints. It takes only a short while for the Nokia N78 to get all covered in smudges, so prepare for some major cleaning.

The Nokia N78 excellent display takes further advantage of the ambient light sensor, which is placed in the top right corner of the front, along with the video-call camera. The earpiece is dead center.

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The earpiece, the ambient light sensor and the videocall camera

The central elements on the N78 front panel however are the 2.4" display and the keypad. Those will be dealt with a little later in our review.

The right side of Nokia N78 hosts the dedicated camera key, the volume rocker and a loudspeaker grill. Both the camera key and the volume rocker are large and tactile enough, and provide sufficient press feedback so they are no problem to use.

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Nokia N78 from the right

Quite surprisingly the other loudspeaker is placed all the way down the diagonal on the opposite side of Nokia N78. It's found just above the lower edge of the left side. The remaining elements on the left are the charger plug, the microSD card slot and the microUSB port. Of those, only the microSD card slot is hidden under a plastic lid, which makes the USB port prone to filling up with grime and dirt - not to mention that the hole doesn't look all that attractive. The same goes for the charging port.

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Nokia N78's left side hosts a loudspeker, the microUSB slor and the charger plug

The microSD slot is neatly tucked under its protective cap but things are not as sweet in terms of usability. The problem is that releasing the card is a fiddly job. You would normally need to keep the cap out of the way while trying to eject the card from its narrow slot deep within the surrounding surface.

Looking at Nokia N78 from above we notice the power key, which is also used for changing the ringing profiles and the 3.5mm standard audio jack. Its location is not that convenient - it's uncomfortable to operate the handset with a pair of headphones plugged in right on top.

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The 3.5mm standard audio jack and the power key are on top

At the bottom of the phone there's the microphone pinhole and the lanyard eyelet.

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The bottom is pretty plain

The back side of Nokia N78 hosts the 3.2 megapixel camera with LED flash. The lens is unprotected and thus vulnerable to scratches and fingerprints.

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Nokia N78 comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera with LED flash

We are really displeased with the battery cover. It does wobble big time and annoying creaks are heard all the time when handling the phone. We are guessing it's the lock mechanism, which is far from perfectly designed. Other than the wobble, the all-plastic lock and side hinges do feel quite fragile and are likely to play up with use.

In order to open the battery cover, you need to press the release button at the bottom and simultaneously lift the whole piece. Once again the latch is rather hard to operate, while the battery cover doesn't feel solid enough and we couldn't help fearing it might break.

"...The Nokia N78 bar measures 113 x 49 x 15.1mm. Even if it doesn't sound that bulky, in reality the phone is slightly on the hefty side. With the huge number of features aboard however, we aren't really put down by size..."

Nokia N78 is equipped with a BL-6F battery of 1200 mAh capacity. It is quoted at up to 320 hours of stand-by and 4 hours and 20 minutes of talk time, which sounds quite a promise to us. In reality it kept the phone going for about 3 days of moderate usage. yes, we know, that got us totally unexpected too. It may get beter once the battery reaches its full potential after several charges.

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Nokia N78's interior • the BL-6F battery

We can't really nag about the construction quality of Nokia N78. But we just won't let the wobbly back cover get away with it. Honestly, it doesn't feel right. The fingerprint disaster of a surface is the other thing. The rest of the handset is well done. After all, we wouldn't have complained about the wonky rear if the whole thing was one mess of a handset. But it's not, so those little details tend to get on your nerves.

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The phone held in hand

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