Nokia N79 review: Swiss Army knife

GSMArena team, 20 November 2008.
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Customization options: Xpress yourself

With Nokia N79 users have a choice between four different menu view modes. The first two are the well known 4 x 3 grid and a simple list. There is little to surprise you here but we still find those two the most comfortable to work with.

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Nokia N79 offers grid and list main menu view modes for the traditionalists…

The other two available modes are the 3D V-shape and Horseshoe layouts. They do look a lot better but working with them does take time getting used to. Font size is also configurable throughout the menus.

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…and Horseshoe and V-shape for the ones that look for more eye-candy

Another option for customizing the UI is changing the currently active theme. There are eight preinstalled themes on Nokia N79, but you are by no means limited to them only. Downloading additional ones from the internet and installing them on your N79 is quick and easy and the choices offered are endless.

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Nokia N79 preinstalled themes

The best part about the smart Xpress-on covers is that you can set the phone to automatically change your theme to match the color of the currently installed rear panel.

You can also adjust the standby background to show a slide show of your photos instead of a single static image.

Finally, the screensaver can display the current date, custom text, the currently playing track, an animation or even a slide show depending on the user's preferences.

Telephony: just as expected

We didn't experience any problems with the in-call performance of Nokia N79. Reception levels are good and there were no interferences whatsoever.

The main disadvantage here is that there is no preinstalled smart-dialing feature on the Nokia N79.

This is partially compensated by the built-in voice recognition system, which is doing quite a good job recognizing most of the commands. It is also fully speaker-independent and doesn't require prerecording of the commands.

Bear in mind though, that if you have multiple numbers assigned to a name, you should set one as default or otherwise the first entry will be dialed.

We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on Nokia N79. The handset fell short of impressive, managing only an average score. So consider missing a few calls in noisier environments somewhat likely with this phone.

Here is the table comparing the N79 to some of the its Nseries siblings we've put to the same test. In case you want to find out more about the test itself or a complete list of tested devices, hit the link.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOverall score
Nokia N8270.2 61.265.9Below average
Nokia N7966.665.871.7Average
Nokia N8567.065.571.8Average
Nokia N95 8GB75.7 66.270.2Good
Nokia N9577.3 66.678.0Very Good
Nokia N9673.776.078.1Excellent

Phonebook: Symbian treat

Nokia N79 surely has an impressive phonebook with massive functionality and generous storage space. Theoretically the whole internal memory can be filled with your contacts and their details but we cannot even imagine anyone needing to do that.

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The phonebook of Nokia N79 has quite extensive functionality

Contacts can be freely ordered by first or last name and can naturally be searched by gradual typing of any of the names. You can also set whether the contacts from the SIM card, the phone memory and the service numbers will get displayed.

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The contacts can be ordered by first or last name and can be searched by gradual typing of any of them

Editing a contact offers a great variety of preset fields and you can replicate each of them as many times as you like. You can also create new fields if you happen to be able to think of one. Personal ringtones and videos are also available for assigning. If you prefer, you may group your contacts and give each group a specific ringtone.

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There are limitless choices of fields to add when editing a contact

The Call log keeps track of your recent communications. The application itself comes in two flavors - accessed by pressing the Call key on the stand-by screen or from the main menu. The first one brings 20 call records in each of its tabs for outgoing, received and missed calls.

If you access the Log application from the main menu, you'll see a detailed list of all your network communications for the past 30 days. These include messages, calls and data transfers (even WLAN connections are included).

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