Tuesday, 13 November 2007

N76 Review

The Nokia N76 is a clamshell phone from Nokia that runs on the Symbian operating system (version 9.2.). It’s a small phone, but, it is pretty powerful. Featuring a standard 3.5mm audio jack and dedicated music keys on the front of the phone it’s obvious that it was made with music playback in mind. Will it fare well at this and the other tasks associated with the Nokia N series?

Design:

The Nokia N76 is available in black or red, both look great. The phone, resembles the Motorola RAZR in quite a few ways but is just slightly thinner than it at 13.7mm. However, if the battery is taken out, there are places where this phone is about 2mm thick (below the keypad) and one must wonder how SO many features are packed into this thing.

The front of the N76 features a large mirror that conceals the 1.36” exterior screen and 3 dedicated music buttons (previous track, play/pause & next track).

The top holds the 3.5mm audio jack, Mini USB port and power button.

Turn to the left side and you will find the Micro SD port and the 2mm Nokia charger connection.

Switch over to the right side and you can see the volume control buttons, gallery button and camera button.

and on the back is the 2 MegaPixel camera and LED flash.

On the back, sides and front of the phone there are pieces of ‘Chrome’ which, unfortunately, simply peel off with ease. This is one of the major faults with the N76 design due to the material used.

Another gripe that I have with the design is the fact that if you have anything plugged into the Mini USB or 3.5mm jack, it is impossible to fully open the device which makes it slightly more difficult to view the lovely 2.4” screen.

Software:

The N76 runs on Symbian version 9.2 and feels very smooth through the menus and whilst running applications.

Something to note about the N76 is that it comes with the great ‘search’ app built into the standby screen which is very convenient. This little app from Nokia allows you to search through your ENTIRE phone just by typing part of the a few letters and everything matching that criteria will be displayed very quickly. Wonderful!

Music:

Just by glancing at the front of the phone, you will know that it was meant to play music. As mentioned it has an industry standard 3.5mm jack for earphones/headphones, 3 media control buttons and of course a loudspeaker.

The Music player is always running in the background so that it can be opened swiftly and this shouldn’t cause any worries as you’ll still have 45mb of RAM to play with on boot-up. The quality of the music is pretty good for a phone and is certainly better than that of the N73, however I can’t compare it to the N91 which is thought of by many as superior to the iPod in terms of music quality.

BUT, there’s still something that is bugging me about music playback that has been present with all N-Series phones that I’ve ever tried….The VOLUME! I really don’t understand why this is always happening in N-Series phones! Even with the loudness option it’s still pretty darned quiet (no, I don’t have a hearing impairment!) maybe there are some regulations to maximum volume output or something but it saddens me that I can barely hear my sweet music whilst on the bus (using earphones of course, I’m not one of those chavs!)

Camera:

The camera is 2 Megapixels (fixed focus) which is capable of capturing videos at 15fps (more info about that below) with the assistance of a LED flash.

Picture quality is decent for the occasional photo that you have no intention to print out, however it really is poor compared to some 2 megapixel cameraphones from Sony Ericsson e.g. the W810i.

N73 image (above)

N76 image (above)

The stills quality is redeemed by the video capture though! I was very impressed with it and I feel it is safe to say that it’s better than the N73’s video recording: here’s a sample:

video

Internet Browsing:

The internet browser in the N76 is the same as the other S60V3 phones which means a very good browser! Web pages are rendered quickly via a 3G connection and you shouldn’t have a problem visiting most sites.

Steve Litchfield at All About Symbian loaded the website http://www.aftonbladet.se/ on the N95 8GB to demonstrate the capabalities of the improved RAM in the 8GB version. Well, I’m not surprised he used this site as it ate up around 20MB of RAM, but you still have around 25MB left to play with!

RAM after bootup with screenshot app and rotateme open (above)

Aftonbladet in browser: NO PROBLEMS! (above)

RAM with Aftonbladet open in browser (above)

Battery Life:

The battery used in the N76 is branded as the BL-4B, coming in at a measly 700mAh! That’s one of the compromises that have been made in delivering such a thin phone! You shouldn’t have a problem making it through the day though but you will have to become used to charging pretty often.

THE VERDICT:

The N76 is a stylish yet powerful multimedia computer. Many people will say that it resembles the Motorola RAZR, which it does but the fact is that it packs in WAY more fun into a SLIMMER package, which is a great achievement on Nokia’s part. In a way it is let down by the poor “chrome” which peels off eventually, but even with this flaw, I will certainly miss the Ooohs and Aaahs I get when I pull out this beast!

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