Nokia N78 review: Bitter sweet

GSMArena team, 11 June 2008.
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Music player

The music player is another noteworthy Nokia N78 application. It has a huge number of supported audio formats, including MP3, AAC, eAAC+ and WMA. The M3U playlists are also managed flawlessly and files are added to the music library by simply choosing the refresh music library option.

Sorting your songs by artist, album, genre and composer is automatic and searching tracks by gradual typing of the desired name is also available. Tracks are transferred to Nokia N78 via Bluetooth, USB or by simply downloading them from the internet. You can also use a card reader for that purpose and transfer them directly to your memory card.

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The music player user interface

Upon completing a USB transfer, the phone automatically prompts scanning for new music tracks and, if allowed to do so, adds the new ones to the music library.

The player comes with five equalizer presets, which is a good count in our point of view. If it still seems insufficient, you can edit them or create new ones in a matter of seconds.

Nokia N78
There are five equalizer presets on Nokia N78

Quite naturally, the player can also be minimized to play in background. In this case a tab appears on the stand-by screen indicating the currently running track.

Nokia N78 also comes complete with the A2DP profile support. This means that you will be able to listen to your music on a Bluetooth stereo headset. We had no problem connecting the N78 to a set of third-party headphones we had laying around in our office.

We certainly hoped that the audio quality of Nokia N78, unlike that of Nokia N82 would be at a good level but, unfortunately, this was not the case.

Our audio quality test showed that N78 has problems in several areas including extremely high intermodulation distortion and total harmonic distortion levels. The rest of the reading are also far from being impressive, save for the decent frequency response. So, even though the 3.5mm standard audio jack provides compatibility with a huge variety of headphones, you shouldn't set your hopes too high in terms of audio quality.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Nokia N78+0.30, -1.59-76.176.10.0140.548-72.7
Nokia N82+1.10, -1.53-81.680.80.0046 0.137-69.3
Nokia N81+0.39, -1.13-86.685.80.0410.040-69.9
Samsung i550+0.74, -0.76-90.886.90.0024 0.033-89.1
Sony Ericsson W980+0.31, -1.25-86.089.40.037 0.828-86.3

Nokia N78
Nokia N78 frequency response graph

If you would like to learn more about the audio quality testing process click here.

Video player

Nokia N78 features Real player for playing your video clips. The video player can be displayed in both portrait and landscape mode and can be switched to fullscreen. As you might have guessed, watching a video clip on a screen with this kind of picture quality is really enjoyable. The generous size is also a welcome benefit.

"...The music player is another noteworthy Nokia N78 application. It has a huge number of supported audio formats, including MP3, AAC, eAAC+ and WMA. The M3U playlists are also managed flawlessly and files are added to the music library by simply choosing the refresh music library option..."

When in full screen, the softkey functions are hidden so that they don't spoil the viewing experience and only pop up when a key is pressed.

FM radio

The FM radio on Nokia N78 has a nice simple interface and can automatically scan and save the available stations in your area. It has RDS support.

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FM radio user interface

If internet connection is available, the Visual radio application can download all the local stations and save them to the handset with their names.

FM transmitter

It's time for one of the most interesting features of Nokia N78 - the built-in FM transmitter. It allows you to broadcast your favorite tracks over a predefined radio frequency. Those can then be picked up by any device with an FM radio receiver in the vicinity. The signal strength of the N78 is not that good and in city environment it loses when compared to the Sony Ericsson W980, which we reviewed a couple of weeks ago.

Nokia N78
The FM transmitter has a really simple interface

The FM transmitter application has a really nice and simple user interface and might do the job of a CD changer in your car for example. However it fails to transmit the artist and track info over RDS like the Sony Ericsson W980 did and all you get displayed on your receiver is "Nokia".

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