Nokia N79 Review (part two and conclusion)

799The Nokia N79 has continued to impress in many areas and is without doubt a highly competent phone that is capable of doing the basics well. I am going to break it down by functionality and comment on how well each area performs, and for all reviews from here on in I will include scores out of 10-

Build Quality (9/10)

A rock solid design which incredibly comes in at under 100g. This will withstand almost anything you through at it, within reason.

Camera (6/10)

The 5MP camera is very standard Nokia and will suit the needs of almost everyone. Video recording is not good and the flash is hampered, but for picture taking in daylight you could do a lot worse. The Carl Zeiss lens is unfortunately not quite matched with the dual LED flash and as such performance is a little off par.

Entertainment (7/10)

Video and music playback are more than acceptable and there is provision for TV-out, but sadly no TV-out cable included. I can understand why this has been omitted, but to have the functionality working out of the box would be preferable. Ditch the Nokia headphones, buy a decent sized memory card (only 4GB in the box) and away you go.

One clever addition is the FM transmitter which allows you to send music to your car stereo. It takes second to set up and the resultant sound quality is excellent.

Screen (7/10)

The screen is well sized at 2.4 inch and it performs well indoors and outdoors. It does not match the quality of many other smartphones in 2009, but it is passable and will serve you well for almost all tasks. In bright sunlight, it does become washed out, but for viewing text it is still fine.

Battery (8/10)

No issues here. I pushed the N79 very hard and was still unable to reduce the battery life below 2 days. It copes particularly well with music, but prolonged W-Fi usage will obviously have an effect.

Keys (3/10)

AAAAARGH! There is no need for any phone to include buttons which put design over function, but the N79 takes it to a whole new level. From the flush keys which are difficult to press to the navigation button which has dual functions (both of which do not work well at all), it all makes for a painful data entry experience which should have been avoided by the fancy Nokia test devision we hear so much about. This one area drags the N79 down more than any other.

Performance (8/10)

In general, the performance is very good. I noticed no slowdowns or freezes, and the 50MB of internal memory will be enough for most users. It could be more capacious in this area, but I suspect that under 0.5% of users will ever have a problem.

Value for money (6/10)

If you want a well specified smartphone that costs around £300, the N79 could be considered good value for money. The problem lies in the fact that there are similar Nokia models on the market which offer more at a similar price point.
The Nokia N85 costs just £20 more and comes with more memory, a bigger OLED screen, better keys and a TV-out cable (I think). It is a slide design, so not as resistant to daily life, but it has many advantages over the N79.

The older Nokia N82 has a design that most people hate with a passion, but it is a highly capable smartphone which rivals the N95 for functionality. The camera has a much better flash and competes with the N79 on almost every other feature.

Conclusion

It would be churlish of me to conclude that the N79 is a poor smartphone because it is far from that. It does almost everything it needs to very well, but the competition is fierce in this area and Nokia is the one providing that competition. If the price were lower I would recommend it highly, but at the current price point it feels rather average.

Available from Clove for £304.75 who kindly provided the review unit.