Reviewer: Nathan Taylor
Eschewing the more traditional Nokia look, the N76 is a very cool new design from Nokia. It’s a flip phone featuring two screens – an outer screen that, much like the LG Shine, is mirror-like when not in use; and a large inner screen that’s visible when the phone is flipped open. It also has multimedia controls on the outside of the phone, so you can skip and pause tracks without having to open the phone up. Very cool.
The N76 is not a phone that’s loaded down with a million features and applications. Its default setup is quite simple – you have messaging (including email, but not push email), you have web browsing and you have multimedia, including an FM radio tuner. It does all these things very well, and in an interface that’s easy to navigate and easy to get a grip on. If you want more from your phone, the N76 comes with a suite of third-party applications that you can add in.
It comes with 26MB of internal memory, which can be expanded up to 2GB using microSD cards. A 512MB microSD card comes with the phone. It supports Bluetooth 2.0 and can connect to your PC via USB, acting as a 3G modem for a notebook.
The N76 is exactly what we want in a multimedia 3G phone – it has decent audio quality (although the FM radio audio tended to sound a little tinny); a very simple web browser; quick access controls and buttons for music playback and photography; music sorting by album, artist and the like; a high-quality camera; fast email access and a straightforward interface to manage it all.
We weren’t huge fans of the keypad, however. The buttons are textured, but flush with the phone. Using the four-way toggle was particularly frustrating, and we found we constantly pressed the central select button accidentally. It all looks very space age, with shiny backlit keys and all, but a nod to the practicalities of typing and using the system wouldn’t go astray.
The phone can work in both portrait or landscape mode for web browsing, although the positioning of the navigation controls wasn’t very conducive to use in landscape mode. Still, the option is nice, and certain web pages will only really work on the wider screen offered by landscape mode.
Like most mirror surfaces, the cover surface has a tendency to pick up fingerprints, and you may find yourself losing way too much of your life wiping it clear.
The screens aren’t anything to get excited about, and the quality of the image in photo viewfinder mode was particularly disappointing. The quality of the photos from the two megapixel camera were quite good, and it even has a flash, but the preview is so grainy that it’s near impossible to know beforehand if a picture will turn out well.
Those issues aside, if you love your music, it’s hard to go past the N76. It does everything just about right. It doesn’t have much internal memory of note, but microSD is very cheap now, with 2GB cards readily available for less than $100.
It’s not a small phone, by any means, but if you want something stylish and shiny and capable of excellent multimedia playback, the N76 is a winner.