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Nokia N96 and N78: Hands-on with Nokia's new Ns

Read all about it! Read all about it! Nokia's launched two new phones and there's no doubt about it. Yes, that's right, those industrious Finns have done it again

Instead of the highly anticipated iPhone-a-like that we truly believed Nokia would unleash at the Mobile World Congress, the Finnish giant unveiled the N96 and N78. But all is not lost, because these handsets are much more than mere upgrades.

The Nokia N96 is a step up from the Nokia N95 8GB and offers some truly mouth-watering features. There's 16GB of on-board memory and the option to expand via a microSDHC slot, which puts the new iPhone to shame.

Picking it up we immediately took to the large colour screen, which pushes all of your digital content right in your face and almost takes up the entire front of the N96. Everything feels well laid out and its keys are relatively easy to press.

Unlike the N95, there's a 3.5mm jack on the top of the phone instead of the side, which is much more practical and means it's less likely to get in the way when you put it in your pocket.

All the connectivity options that you got on the Nokia N95 are also available on the N96, including GPS, HSDPA (3.5G) and Wi-Fi.

One of our favourite features, and probably the N96's most modest one, is the kick stand on the back of the handset that allows you to rest your phone upright on a table -- useful if you're trying to watch a full-length film and don't fancy holding it for an hour.

We're huge fans of the N95 8GB, and this is definitely a cool bit of kit -- but we can't help feeling a little underwhelmed that there isn't more on offer. Call us greedy but we expected something a touch more exciting from the Finns.

Click through for more pictures of the N96 and our first impressions of the Nokia N78. -Andrew Lim

Update: a Nokia N78 hands-on video is now on the site

Further update: Read our full Nokia N78 review.

16GB is very generous and equivalent to the iPhone's maximum storage space. But Nokia's gone one better and added an expandable microSDHC card that you can access from the outside and will be able to hold up to 16GB of memory in the not-too-distant future. Ooh, 32GB -- suits you, sir.

Is that the same 5-megapixel camera that's on the Nokia N95? Yes, it is, but there are now two, apparently more powerful, LED photo lights that will illuminate your subjects much better in the dark -- ahhh, the light, it blinds us!

Nokia generously included a copy of Spider-Man 3 with the Nokia N95 8GB, but holding it up throughout the entire film is rather tiring, unless you're Mariusz Pudzianowski, the world's strongest man. So the clever chaps at Nokia came up with this little kick stand, which tucks away when it's not needed. That's better, the blood's coming back now.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but many phone designers have an aversion to putting headphone jacks at the top or bottom of phones, creating a rather pocket-unfriendly situation. As you can see here, there'll be absolutely no pocket shenanigans between the N96 and a headphone pin.

You either love 'em or hate 'em, but it seems Nokia isn't ready to get rid of its dual-sliding dedicated media keys. We're not massive fans, but they are useful when you need to control your media quickly and it does mean not having to use on-screen alternatives -- which as we all know is the devil's work.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, seems to be Nokia's mantra du jour and this phone -- the N78 -- does bear a strong resemblance to the N82. It's part of the N7 family, though, which is why it looks like a cross between the two.

It shares many features with the N82, including Wi-Fi, HSDPA (3.5G) and GPS. But that's where the similarities end and the interesting differences pop their heads out.

Unlike the N82, this handset is set up to geotag your pictures -- when you take a picture it uses the GPS receiver to figure out where you are and attaches that information to the photo.

The N78 also boasts an FM transmitter, which allows you to transmit music to the nearest FM radio. Essentially you're setting up a mini radio station, so there might be some regulatory trouble in the UK, but we're glad Nokia has done it and think it's going to be great for car journeys.

Update: a Nokia N78 hands-on video is now on the site

Stereo speakers (pictured right) add a little extra volume to this handset and there's a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the N78, so you can stick your usual headphones straight into it.

On the back of the Nokia N78 there's a 3.2-megapixel camera, which is apparently the resolution of choice these days. Remember: it's not how many megapixels you have, it's what you do with them that counts.

Interestingly, the four-way navigation key also acts as a touch-sensitive scroll wheel, similar to an iPod's Click Wheel, which lets you search through music tracks or contacts quickly. It's a helpful touch and does make a difference when you've got gallons of data to trawl through.