Review: Impressions of the Nokia N79 NAM

The Nokia N79 that I was sent to review is not one of those new ECO models without the charger since that program was launched after I received this evaluation unit. The Nokia N79 is available in both an international and North American variant at this time. The NAM model has dual-band UMTS/HSDPA so you won’t be able to use the higher speed data network while traveling overseas, but it is also quad-band GSM so at least EDGE will work just fine. It is priced with a MSRP of US$429 and is SIM-unlocked. The N79 reminds me of one of my favorite Nseries devices, the N73, with some of the same design features in the candy bar form factor. The N79 has very good specifications and packs a lot of power and functionality in a compact package. Nokia also incorporated a cool back plate image changing capability so you can quickly change the look of your device for different occasions.

n79_retailbox

In the box

The contents of the retail package include the Nokia N79, three back covers (2 extras), BL-6F battery, Nokia travel charger, USB cable, 4GB microSD card, wired stereo headset, Quick Start Guide, and User Guide. From what I understand there are three different back cover packages. One has canvas white front, sea blue, olive green and espresso brown covers. Another has petrol black front and dark grey, steel grey, and deep plum covers. The eval unit I was sent has seal grey front with espresso brown, coral red (appears orange), and white back covers. I would like to see the sea blue and olive green colors in person. I think you will be able to buy different color backs as accessories and I’ll talk a bit below about how these covers work.

n79contents

n79covers

Out of the box first impressions

The N73 remains one of my favorite NSeries devices of all time because of its cool looks, beautiful display, and camera cover design. When I first opened the box for the N79, I was immediately impressed by the front design and thickness of the device. Like the N73, the one I am checking out has a white front with a couple areas that extend out from the straight lines. It feels extremely solid in your hand with no creaking or movement of any kind. It is very thin and easily and comfortably fits in your shirt pocket.

Specifications

The specifications for the Nokia N79 include:

  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE:1900/1800/900/850 MHz
  • UMTS/HSDPA: 850/1900 MHz
  • S60 3th Edition Feature Pack 2 operating system
  • ARM 11 369 MHz processor
  • 50MB internal dynamic memory
  • microSD card slot with SDHC support (4GB card included)
  • Accelerometer
  • Integrated GPS/A-GPS receiver
  • 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support
  • 2.4 inch 320×240 display with support for up to 16 million colors
  • 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual-LED flash lights
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS support
  • FM transmitter
  • 1200 mAh battery (BL-6F)
    Dimensions:

  • Weight: 3.41 ounces
  • Length: 4.33 inches
  • Width: 1.93 inches
  • Thickness: 0.59 inches

A walk around the hardware

I can’t stress enough how great the N79 feels in your hand and if you are a candybar form factor fan this is a device to consider. It is attractive, fashionable, and is loaded for bear with specs. You have to admit it is pretty amazing how much is packed into these devices.

On the front you will find the 2.4 inch 320×240 display with a small bump on the right side with the Nokia name to give it a bit of a stylish look. Above the display is the front facing camera (useless in the US) and indicator light. Centered above the display is the handset speaker. Below the display is the seven hardware buttons and directional pad. The send, end, left and right soft keys are all very small long oval buttons. The menu and clear buttons really are not buttons, but areas between the left and right buttons located on the flat area to the left and right of the directional pad. On another bump on the left side you will find the multimedia button. This is the largest button. They all have good backlighting with the send and end lighting up in green and red, respectively.

n79keypad

I could probably get over the small hardware buttons, but the navi wheel/directional pad bugs me too much for me to buy he device myself. When I pressed along the outer edges I kept pushing the menu and clear keys. It does have a matte finish though so it feels pretty good under your thumb.

n79hwbuttons

The phone keypad is pretty flush and slick. It takes a bit of practice to get used to the location, but the keys are decently sized for your fingers.

Looking at the left side we find the standard Nokia charging port towards the bottom. Towards the top you will see a cover with both the microUSB port and microSD card slot in the same location. This is actually a good idea since you reduce the number of port doors on the device.

n79micro

The stereo speakers are found at the top and bottom of the right side. A volume switch and camera capture button are found towards the middle of the device. The stereo speakers sound outstanding and are easily one of the best set of speakers I have ever heard on a mobile phone.

The lock switch, 3.5mm headset jack, and power button are found along the top of the N79. The only thing on the bottom is the lanyard opening and mic opening.

The 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics is found on the back upper area of the Nokia N79. Thankfully, Nokia included a slider cover to protect the camera lens. The dual LED is adjacent to the camera slider.

n79camera

Experiences and some more first thoughts

I am not a huge candybar form factor fan and prefer QWERTY devices over everything else. That said, the N79 is a very good candybar phone and I actually enjoyed using it over the last week.

The Xpress-on back covers are pretty cool because they let you swap out the back and then have the theme change to match the back cover. There are four connectors on the back that send a signal to the phone and have it change the theme based on the cover installed.

n79hwbuttons1

The N79 seemed to perform flawlessly with fast response, cool animations, and quick rotation with the accelerometer. I like having the FM transmitter in the device because I was able to stream my podcasts over the FM radio in my car without having to connect a cable or anything.

n79n73

Pricing and availability

The Nokia N79 is available from Nokia USA for US$429. You may be able to find it for less too.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Form Factor: 3.5
  • Build Quality: 5
  • Features and Battery Life: 5
  • Wireless features: 5

Overall: 4.5/5

starStarStarStarStar

Pros

  • Thin
  • All the wireless radios and functions
  • Outstanding speakers
  • Good camera
  • Fun back cover designs

Cons

  • Small buttons and flat directional pad
  • Display seems a bit washed out (I am spoiled by the OLED N85 now)
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7 Comments to Review: Impressions of the Nokia N79 NAM

Vishesh
January 31, 2009

Hey Mathew…You wrote 5800 XM instead of N79 in the Specifications part…..

Matthew Miller
January 31, 2009

Thanks, I was using my last template and missed this update. I fixed it now and appreciate the comment.

atmozphere
February 1, 2009

I had the same worries about the d-pad the first time I saw the phone. Yesterday I actualy went to the store to see how it really works and was very surprised it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The keypad works ok too and to my surprise I didn’t have problems hitting #2 key given the proximity to the d-pad. I love the looksk but still prefer my N78 (can live with the 3.2 mpixel camera but would love to have the TV out and the auto screen rotation).

Will
February 2, 2009

Is the N85’s screen that much better? How about in direct sunlight?

The OLED screens I’ve seen look great indoors but are next to useless in direct sunlight.

[…] launch contest, we already have some reviews up, including ones for Spb Wallet 2 for S60, Nokia N79 first impressions, and a full review of the new 5800 XpressMusic touch screen S60 […]

cmz
August 13, 2009

I have 9 month before purchase N79 there is no games
store, I want in set games can you help

srinivas
March 21, 2010

How can i control dual display of N 79???????? i mean to ask display (horizontal and vetical) is switching.. can we keep control of it????????


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