Picture quality was actually disappointing, as colors looked washed out, and there was a hazy effect to the images. It definitely wasn't what we expected from a 3.2 megapixel camera, let alone an N series device. Recorded video looked decent. Again, colors weren't very bright but the picture was pretty clear and there wasn't as much pixilation as we've experienced with some other camera phones.
Rounding out the rest of the Nokia N78's multimedia capabilities is a built-in music player that supports MP3, WMA, W4A, AAC, AAC+, and eAAC+ files, as well as OMA DRM 2.0- and WM DRM-protected songs. The music library categorizes tracks by artists, albums, genres, and composers; you can also create playlists right on the phone and adjust the sound with the built-in equalizer. You can listen to your favorite podcasts or listen to Internet radio. If you'd like to watch other videos, you can use RealPlayer to check out 3GPP and MPEG-4 files. And while there is a direct link to the Nokia Music Store and N-gage game service, they are not yet fully functional in the United States. There's about 70MB of user-accessible memory, but you always have the microSD expansion slot, which accepts up to 8GB cards.
Oh, and how about this? The Nokia N78 is a phone. Yes, behind all the flash of the entertainment features, the N78 is a competent phone, offering quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, voice-command support, a vibrate mode, and text and multimedia messaging. The phone's address book is only limited by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and each entry can hold multiple phone numbers, work and home addresses, e-mail addresses, birthday, and more vitals. For caller ID purposes, you can assign each contact a photo, one of 35 ringtones, or a group ID.
The N78 is also supports U.S. 3G bands. As we mentioned earlier, be sure you are getting the N78-3 version, and also be aware that the smartphone works on the 850/1900 HSDPA bands, which means it will only work for AT&T and not T-Mobile's 3G network, which operates on the 1700/2100 bands. Other wireless options include Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi. The smartphone supports a number of Bluetooth profiles, including mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, dial-up networking, and file transfer. Our review unit had no problem finding and connecting to our test access point. As with other N series phones, the N78 supports Universal Plug and Play, which lets you use a Wi-Fi connection to hook up with a compatible PC, printer, or home entertainment system, but the number of UPnP devices is limited at the moment.
Finally, the N78 runs the third edition of the S60 platform on the Symbian operating system for your productivity needs. An application called QuickOffice lets you view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, but if you want any editing capabilities, you'll have to upgrade the preloaded copy of QuickOffice. For messaging, the smartphone supports IMAP4, POP3, and SMTP e-mail accounts and comes with a full attachment viewer. The N78 works with a number of push e-mail solutions, as well as Microsoft Exchange Server synchronization, but this is dependent upon your service provider and company's e-mail solution, so check with your IT department if you have any questions. Other productivity applications and PIM tools include Adobe Reader, a Zip manager, a calculator, a notepad, a measurement converter, a clock, and a voice recorder. For more software applications for your Nokia N78, please check out CNET Download.com.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Nokia N78 in San Francisco using AT&T service and call quality was mixed. On our end, audio sounded soft and muffled at times, and there were periods of patchy call quality. We could still carry on a conversation and use an airline's voice-automated response system, but the sound just wasn't pristine. Meanwhile, our callers were impressed by the clarity, though one friend said our voice sounded slightly digitized. The speakerphone also yielded mixed results. No major complaints from our friends, but we heard a bit of an echo and tinny quality to voices. We had no problems pairing the N78 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active headphones.
The N78 was generally responsive. We experienced smooth transitions when navigating the phone and didn't suffer any system crashes. Some features, such as opening documents and multimedia apps, could take a little longer than others, but it wasn't anything crippling. We surfed the Web using both AT&T's 3G network and Wi-Fi, and enjoyed swift download times. Music playback through the phone's speakers was pretty weak. We listened to some MP3 and AAC files and Internet radio, and the sound quality always sounded tinny. In addition, at higher volumes, the sound was blown out. Watching video was OK in short spurts, and pictures and audio were always synchronized.
With the assisted GPS, which uses the aid of cellular towers and Wi-Fi hot spots to get a fix, the N78 was able to get a read on our location in less than a minute, and did a decent job of tracking our location. The geotagging feature was also very cool. The widespread adoption of the technology might be up for debate, but we think it's a pretty neat and easy way to document memories of a trip or spontaneous moment. Plus, it doesn't require any work on your part, other than taking a picture, so why not?
The Nokia N78's 1,200mAh battery has a rated talk time of 4.3 hours and up to 13 days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests, but we will update this section as soon as we have final results. According to FCC radiation charts, the N78 has a digital SAR rating of 1.26 watts per kilogram.