Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nokia N79 Review

I am back (Arnold Shalwar Naikar Style) and this time i am going to do a review of Nokia N-79 cell phone (which Nokia INSISTS to call as computer) but before i start i must thank the people who made it possible in the first place

  • Mr. Adeel Hashmi (Nokia)
  • Mr. Muhammed Ayaz (Syntax Communications)
  • Mr. Muhammad Waqas (Syntax Communications)

The Box, Nothing Fancy Yet Have A Unique Presence

So now that i am done with obligation of thanking people lets go down (sounds pervert but honestly i don't mean it like that) to business shall we?

Technical Specifications

  • 2.4" 16M-color LCD TFT display of QVGA resolution
  • 5 megapixel autofocus camera with dual-LED flash and AF assist light
  • VGA video recording at 30fps
  • Symbian OS 9.3 with S60 3.2 UI
  • ARM 11 369 MHz CPU
  • 3G with HSDPA support
  • Quad-band GSM support
  • Wi-Fi with UPnP technology
  • Built-in GPS with A-GPS functionality and 3 months of free voice-guided navigation
  • microSD card slot with microSDHC support
  • 4GB memory card included in the retail package
  • Built-in accelerometer for UI auto-rotation
  • Swappable Xpress-on smart covers (two of them in the box)
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • TV out
  • Stereo FM Radio with RDS
  • FM transmitter
  • Stereo speakers
  • Navi wheel navigation
  • USB and Bluetooth v2.0
  • One free N-gage game
  • Keylock switch

History Of N-Series

Why reviewers avoid going into history of a product is beyond me, maybe it has something to do with the boring history classes we were forced take in school? Anyways i personally believe unless one take a quick look at the history of the product or brand we would not be in a position to justify the pros and cons of the product properly, Having said that lets explore the rich history behind N-79 shall we?

Like the name suggests "N" means that this particular line of product is targeting the "multimedia" market segment, that in layman's language means that any device having the brand name of "N-Series" will pack a serious punch when it comes to watching videos, photos, taking pictures, blogging, mobile gaming and other areas of multimedia.

Being only introduced in 2005 one can debate that the brand does not have that much history behind it but i'll eat my hat if someone can debate with me on the impact N-Series managed to make in such a short time, hat's off to Nokia's team for that.

The few common features one will find in N-Series phones would be

  • Above average camera
  • High Speed data connectivity
  • Symbian platform (started off with Symbian 8.1 and now Symbian 9.1+ I would like to point that two N-Series phoens did not used the Symbian platform and were using Linux based OS, this is for "OMG YOU ARE SO WRONG OMGOMGOMGOMG" folks out there)
  • Ability to view images, movies and listen to songs on the road bringing the device in parallel to mobile mp3/video players.

So now that we have taken a brief look at the platform this particular device is based of lets see which existing device(s) this particular phone (computer, ARGH) is going to replace.

N-79 Predecessor

Things get slightly complicated here, on the face this device looks and feels just like N-78 so i won't be surprised if it's automatically related to N-78 after all they share the looks (somewhat)

As you can see with N-78 on the left and the N-79 on the right, The N-79 DOES looks like an updated N-78 with more bells and whistles attached but that's where it all stops, I am serious if we go down comparing the specifications for both the phones its funny that they are ALMOST the same phones with different camera modules.

Why would Nokia want to introduce a new phone to replace an existing phone just couple of months down the road (N-78 available May 08, N-79 available 08) makes me assume that in Nokia's opinion N-78 was not a good seller and Nokia felt like bringing something new to the table. I personally believe that N-79 is here to take the crown from N-73 for being the new best seller phone packing features like 5 megapixel camera to make the deal more spicy.

That again is my assumption but N-78 failed to achieve the results and that does put a lot of weight on shoulders of N-79. Things get more complicated when we see the immediate competition the phone has from companies own offerings.

Target Audience

Before actually coming up with potential threats lets see the target audience this particular phone is catering. In my opinion the phone is for tech savvy style oriented people who (1) Wants the newest gadgets in their hand (2) Wants the top of the line technology with them. Maybe Nokia design team have something different in their mind but as far as i am concerned these are the target audience for the phone.

Internal Competition

My gripe with manufacturers is that they give you so many choices that making up your mind to choose a product becomes IMPOSSIBLE, an d by the time you end up deciding your mind there is a new product in market ARGH!

With the above discussed target audience in mind, N-79 have some serious competition ironically from it's own "brothers and sisters" like N-95, N-96, 6220 Classic, N-85 and N-82. You might say hey N-82 i understand but N-95 and N-96 noway! so lets see in which aspects the device is competing against the other three sets


At one time the flagship product for Nokia packed some serious punch, from 5 megapixel camera with xenon flash to integrated GPS, accelerometer and list of other goodies was a phone which many drooled on (myself being exception because i was never into BRICKS)

5 mega pixel camera was perhaps the main selling reason behind N-95 atleast in my opinion and N-79 packs a similar on surface 5 megapixel camera in a candy bar design and much lighter and slim.


The new flagship product from Nokia which replaces N-95 currently offers its user heaps of different features from a 5 megapixel camera to integrated GPS to what not, I shall be covering N-96 in more details in an upcoming review.


Before even writing anything about N-82 let me admit, i drooled a LOT on the set because of its features, yeah people might not agree with the style and specially the keypad (which resembles the one with N-78) but it had all the features one would want in a candybar form. You get a 5 megapixel camera with Xenon flash, accelerometer, GPS among other features.

For the record, i prefer the phone in black color.

6222 Classic

Personally i owned 6120 Classic and i loved it to death, unfortunately my wife lost it (WHAT? NO! ARGGGGGGHHH!!!!) and i still miss it, it was a powerful Symbian based phone which was very fast with adequate camera and was hassle free to use. I can go and on talking about 6120 Classic but we are talking about its elder brother 6220 Classic with among other major upgrades to the platform packaged a 5 megapixel camera with Xenon flash.

Nokia 6222 Classic, Following the Footsteps Of Highly Successful 6120 Classic


Both these phones are not really competition i mean they do feature similar set of features but in different form factor, i am personally not a fan of sliders or flip so candy bar has always been my style but there are people who prefer having sliders and N-85 is good option for them. With a 5 mega pixel camera and a good screen size (2.6 inch) the phone does offers a lot.

Nokia N-79 And N-85 Side By Side

So here we have three different models from the same manufacturer offering nearly the same set of features yet different slabs i.e. N-96 higher end, N-95 the previous higher end now catering the upper middle end and the N-82 catering the upper middle end.

The Box Content

Keep in mind that piece i received from Nokia was in retail packaging however it was not sealed so the content you may get in your retail back might be slightly different. There are products with box which gives you the "cheap" feel but N-79 feels every bit worth of the money you end up paying for it. The moment you lift up the lid your eyes would be dazzled with N-79 along with two covering

The Green Color Looks "More" Eeeky Due To Flash, The Brown Was Very Elegant I Must Say
  • N-79 Handset (Seriously it was there! DOH!)
  • Two bonus smart covers, our box had one in brownish color and one in green. The colors may vary.
  • Two piece (two earbuds) handsfree with integerated remote.
  • MicroUSB cable.
  • DC Charger
  • 4GB Memory Card.
  • Leflets, Manuals, DVD's etc.


From the pictures i saw i thought the phone would be BIGGGGGGGGGGGG!!! but once i got the device and i took it in hand i was pleasantly surprised, make no mistakes i still don't think it felt as nicer as E-51 or 5300 Express Music (You can judge from my approach that i like thin phones) but certainly its much better than N-95/96 or N-73. But let me just get away with one statement, this has to be the prettiest looking N series phone upto date and that Sir indeed is a compliment.

Much of the dimensions of the phone are covered by large and bright 2.4" display and the keypad. On the front you have the secondary VGA camera which serves for video conferencing a feature our mobile operators currently don't offer but can be used to take self portrait (This feature gotta get attention from self obsessed people)

On the left side of the phone you will find the slot for memory card and the micro USB along with the socket for the charger, i always prefer NOT having the charger slot on the bottom of the phone as it hinders placing it in holders etc.

On the right side of the phone you will find the volume rocker which also serves as zoom function in the camera mode and a dedicated camera key. You will also found two stereo speakers on the right side.

On top of the phone you will find a power button which can be used to change profiles quickly and a small "slider" button which locks and unlocks your phone, i found this feature to be really nifty (instead of using the good old keystroke combination) however i did found it to be slightly buggy (at times it didn't locked and took several attempts same goes for unlocking)

On the back we have the 5 megapixel camera which is covered by a active cover and dual LED flash. Once you slide the slider to expose the lens camera application automatically starts in landscape mode. While we are talking about the back it would be unfair to forget the battery which powers this baby, not a small measly one but a powerful 1200 mAh BL-6F Li-Ion battery and through out the vigrous check for a week it never let me down.

While we are talking about back lets talk about the interchangeable covers, the model i received came with green and brown in the box and the phone itself had blue colored cover, now one neat feature which Nokia has added is that when you change a cover thanks to a "contact" (you can say a chip) the phone automatically changes the theme according to the color of cover you are putting on. You however do have option of turning it on/off.

Overall the phone is very pocket friendly and light (i still remember how i used to hate the weight of my N-73). I honestly could not find any reason to whine as far as the build quality of handset i received is concerned, now i was just not happy with that so what i did was to visit few local mobile dealers in Khadda Market (DHA Karachi) and managed to see 3 sets and even they had awesome build quality (When will Shop Keepers start keeping actual working demo sets than those dummies?) so it's not that Nokia specifically choose their best assembled set to send for reviews.


Sharp and bright, i would had not complaints with the 2.4" display IF i had not seen the OLED display of N-85, honestly why Nokia choose not to give OLED goodness to N-79 is beyond me, unfortunately i did not had a N-85 on hand to show you side by side comparison of the displays so until i get my hands on them together you will have to take my word for it.

If we ignore the OLED factor than like i said above the display is sharp and very much readable in sunlight. No complaints here with the 16M color TFT on that front.


The keypad of N-79 is joy to use, i have small hands and it took me no time to type sms in giffy, In fact if you have EVER used any Nokia phone it would take you not time to be at home with N-79's keypad. I HATE (should i repeat myself? oh well my blog, my review so my rules, I HATE) keypad of N-82 and N-78, i didn't got much time to spend with both these devices but it was frustrating experience and fortunately enough with N-79 we are back with "proper" keypad.

The Navigation "Wheel" or the D-Pad is touch sensitive (i admit that it took me some exploration of the phone to figure it out, *blush*) but after a little while i switched it off because it was not "smooth" enough for me, maybe its just me or maybe its something which would be resolved in future firmware updates.


I had the phone for over a week and during this time i only charged it twice. I used the phone extensively to shoot pictures and videos, doing browsing via wifi and playing around with different options on the phone. Since mostly i had my secondary sim in the set the actual voice and sms conversation was not that much. Still i am very impressed by the battery life of this set considering all the features it packs in the little candybar body.

Voice Quality

The phone was loud enough for me even in busy environments. I managed to easily talk while bowling at Royal Rodale on top of all the music and noise there (If you have been to Royal Rodale's bowling alley or to Area-51 you can understand the amount of noise there)

Speaker phone was pretty good too, managed to use it a lot when driving and had no problems what so ever with it. No complains from my side as far as the sound is concerned.


*sigh* If i had to express myself in one word than it would be DISAPPOINTED. What's the use of having a 5 megapixel camera when most of the time you end up having a grainy picture? If you are looking for a Camera Phone than honestly go for either N-95 or N-82 they simply RULE when it comes to imaging.

Now i know you must be thinking that i have totally dissed the camera module on this phone, not entirely true, the image quality which one can achieve using the camera depends HEAVILY on light conditions, in good light conditions the phone managed to take some awesome images but unfortunately like i said those "awesome" shots were in minority. I personally think if this phone had a Xenon flash than phone would had given N-82 a run for it's money because in my opinion the ONLY aspect this phone does not wins/draws over N-82 is the camera, in all the other aspects N-79 is equal and excels when in comes to keypad. Cost factor was an issue at one time when N-79 was cheaper than N-82 but with recent price drops the N-82 is couple of thousand cheaper than N-79 (If you want a fast phone with excellent camera capabilities and do not mind measly keypad issue than go for N-82 no questions asked)

Few are just few of the pictures i took using the N-79, Click on the images to see them in full resolution.

I was satisfied with the videos i was able to make with the phone, VGA resolution at 30 fps with okay image quality was adequate for those "candid moments"


The phone offers you almost all the available mediums to connect your phone, Bluetooth, EDGE, 3G, USB, Wifi someone i know whined about IR not being there i punched him in the face for being an idiot, on serious note i think with all the options available for connectivity not having IR is not your average user will even notice considering that even the lower end phones have started coming out with bluetooth.

The front camera supports 3G video conferencing which is a feature which we lack here in our nation so unless some provider decides to introduce 3G here in Pakistan our only means of "broadband" on cellular phones is EDGE.


Nokia has the BEST browser out there, there i got it out of my system, Safari users are going to hunt me down now, the virtual mouse cursor makes navigation very easy and the results are crisp with seeming less shift from horizontal to vertical views.


Calendar, Quick Office, Alarm, ZIP Manager, Unit Converter, Calculator, Notes, Voice Recorder and other typical applications makes a return in N-79 and like in many other cases of higher end phones i don't understand why Nokia gives the half baked cake (Office) to us? Why only give us the ability to view documents and ask us to "purchase" the full version, it would had been nice if they had provided the full version at least for their higher end of phones. Overall the productivity suite is complete.

N-Gage Yeah Baby!

The phone came with a N-Gage client and 10+ trial games which i had to install (under 1 minute time per game) and included was a coupon by which i could purchase a game (nice touch there Nokia). Now the first thing which i noticed was the resemblance with XBOX Live was just uncanny, from having your "gamer tag" to "gamer score" to "reputation" and i felt right at home, of course i did not ended up making my own tag and stuff which i doubt i could have done in the first place since Pakistan would not be in the supported list but i liked the N-Gage system.

There is also a "market place" where you can browse games, download trials and purchase games, again all this sounds all to familiar to me :) Overall the gaming experience was nice and i wasted good amount of time playing games which was partly due to KESC and partly due to the fact trial games could only be played for limited levels/time.

Other Features

Yes there are things i could not test and they are

GPS here in Karachi WITHOUT going third party hacks / software's which honestly i would not want to do with the phone Nokia had sent me, if it was my own phone than definitely i would had jumped the band wagon and tried "stuff" out! :)

FM Transmitter is a new "gimmick" added which will transmit the song you are playing to a fixed frequency so that your friends can "tune in" to that frequency and listen to the same song as you are.


Currently the phone is available for 31,000 Rs and in that price range you can get phones like E-71, N-82, N-95 to name a few, in my opinion if the price range of this device was around 20,000 Rs. than it would had taken the market by storm much like N-73 did.


Time to wrap up this long review, Overall i loved the device, i wish they had provided a good quality camera with Xenon flash. I have said before in my review that this perhaps is the best looking N-Series device out there. Problem is that the phone offers almost all the features every other new phone is offering and does not bring anything innovative to the table and that makes the buying decision very hard for the end user, this device is no E-71 or 5800 Express Music for instance, both the devices i mentioned have unique propositions on the table which make them attractive to the consumer.

On a scale of 1 - 10 i would give this phone a nice 8


Murtaxa MM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sumair said...

Nice review right on the dot.


divya chirsty said...

Thanks for this post, Thanks for posting this informative blog.
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