The Nokia N78 arrived last night and I charged it up and started to play after getting the kids to bed. I’ve found that the N-Series line is similar to BMW though instead of 3/5/7 we have 7/8/9. The 9 series tend to be all around experts, while the 8s are more like category stars and the 7 series generally provide much of what you get across the board, but perhaps a slightly lower spec. I don’t mean this to take anything away from the N78. The N73, which the N78 seems to be designed to replace has been one of my favorite devices in the N-Series lineup.
After less than 24 hours use, the N78 impresses. It’s the first N-Series with USB 2.0 and the first Nokia with an FM Transmitter. You’ll also find 3.2MP Autofocus Zeiss optics, WiFi, GPS, geo-tagging of photos etc etc. There’s ample system processing speed and the updated operating system (S60 Feature Pack 2) offers some improvements that are sure to make S60 more approachable to a first timer, though may actually take a bit to adjust to as an experienced user. The keyboard is highly compressed and honestly it feels a bit small to me. The N82 has very small keys, but they are well spaced and easy to use while the N82 has a unique key formation that while easy to use is just a tight fit. Overall the device is feels nice in your hand. It’s lighter and thinner than the N82, though they are both about the same length.
Feature Pack 2 adds easier access to what’s running, shows the clock deeper in the system and adds a few other tricks like Audio Themes, timed Profiles and vertical standby layout. You also get an alphabetical list when adding applications in the shortcut list which sounds obvious but seems to be random in OS releases until now. I’ve also noticed that when the N78 syncs with PC Suite, sync occurs in the background and you only see a small icon near the battery meter. A very nice addition is the use of access point priorities / groups which let you define an order of connection types to get the best you have (WiFi or cellular) through a single point. This was previously only seen on E-Series devices though it’s simpler here. It’s been a while since I’ve used the S60 mail client for any period of time, but I configured my Gmail as IMAP and have to say it’s far more responsive than I recall. I’m not sure this is FP2 specific, but I think messaging has definitely been boosted.
The unit I have is the N78-1 which is the EMEA release meaning I don’t have 3G for the US. This is a bummer, but I don’t have 3G at my house anyway, so I’m hardly missing it at the moment. The camera is uncovered which is a bummer, but something I’ve become quite used to as well on the N95-3.
The back cover is seriously challenging to removed compared to other devices and I actually already broke, yes broke, the pull tab. I’m hoping it’s still relatively easy to get access underneath as my SIM is in there … Otherwise the device is solid.
In my usage, I’ve found GPS acquisition to be super quick – less than 10 seconds. The UI is snappy, though the Navi-Wheel can be tricky. I tested the FM Transmitter last night with the BH-903 headphones and was very pleased to see that the connection worked meaning I won’t have to deal with A2DP drop-outs, though it was not as loud as the bluetooth audio …
I’ve done a walk-through video as well which should give a good sense of what the device is like to use as well as a comparison to other recent Nokia N-Series Handsets like the N82, N81 and N95 and even the N73 for good measure.